17 killer bodyweight exercises for legs. Try some of these great lower body movements to build explosive strength, gain muscle mass and develop your agility.
17 Killer Bodyweight Exercises For Legs (Build Muscle!)
Can Bodyweight Exercises Build Leg Muscle?
The bodyweight exercises, if being used in a smart way can help you gain muscle, get stronger and with less risks of injuries compared to weight training.
The biggest issue when it comes to building muscle with calisthenics is that many people are not patient enough to move through all the required progressions in order to achieve a certain, more-advanced exercise.
Now let's be more specific for a second.
Like the great Jason Ferruggia states (and not just him) in this article, to gain muscle and strength in your upper body with calisthenics, you have to stick somewhere around 5-12 repetitions. You have to maintain that while constantly increasing the intensity of your bodyweight exercises.
For lower body calisthenics, make sure to do higher rep range - 20+ repetitions.
Also, smart additions here would be to include different pauses, pulses and enhanced negatives (eccentric portions of the exercises) in order to increase the intensity of the bodyweight exercises for legs, and to gain more muscle.
What Are The Best Bodyweight Exercises For Legs?
There are no such thing as BEST bodyweight exercises for legs.
Every exercise can be replaced with another. Plus, the best bodyweight exercises for legs would be considered the ones that you will able to stick with and be consistent with.
Consistency = results. Remember?
In addition, the best bodyweight exercises for legs can be considered as the ones that will fit perfectly to your current GOAL and training program as well.
So it's a tricky question. But with that spoken, I would love to share with you a few legs exercises without equipment, that I believe are worth tryin'.
Lunges - 1.5 lunge, 1.5 jumping lunge, jumpin lunge with 4-5 seconds isometric hold, ground lunge, forward to reverse lunge, 1.5 forward to reverse lunge, walking lunges with a switch,
Squats - 1.5 squat, 1.5 jumping squat, jump squat with 4-5 seconds isometric hold, pistol squat, pistol assisted squat, shrimp squat (and all of it's progressions)
Bulgarian squat - 1.5 bulgarian squat, jumping bulgarian squat, 1.5 jumping bulgarian squat, high knee to chest explosive bulgarian squat, 1.5 high knee to chest explosive bulgarian squat.
Step ups - all variations are applicable. Jumping step ups, jumping step ups with a switch, 2 step ups to box/chair/bench jump, slow step ups (with enhanced eccentrics) etc.
Hamstrings - the biggest issue when it comes to bodyweight exercises for legs is the hamstring work/activation and your posterior chain. If you're constantly focusing on the squats, lunges or step ups, you will mostly work on your quads and glutes.
So what to do for your hamstrings at home or outdoor? Keep reading.
What Is The Big Issue With The Bodyweight Lower Body Exercises?
The biggest issue when it comes to bodyweight exercises for legs is the hamstring work and your posterior chain. If you're constantly focusing on the squats, lunges or step ups, you will mostly work on your quads and glutes.
But without enough hamstring work, you will develop muscle imbalances which is something that you need avoiding. It's not good at all.
To do that, you have 3 great and yet very simple options:
Sprint Runs (Outdoor)
There are many more bodyweight exercises for legs that we can refer to, but I believe these for now will be enough.
You can easily research each of these leg exercises on your own (refer to YouTube) and give some of these a test drive.
In addition, I will give you a practical tip here. Get a lightweight kettlebell and start working out with it.
The Kettlebell is a brutal training tool for your whole posterior chain and will help a lot with your leg strength and bodyweight exercises for legs to improve.
I use a 16kg kettlebell from around 10 years so far, I keep it right next to my bed and will use it anytime when I have to do bodyweight exercises for legs or full body routines at home.
Before each leg workout, begin first with your hamstring work and then proceed to the main bodyweight exercises for legs (squats, lungest, step ups and all variations there). This way, your pushing bodyweight exercises for legs will be stronger and feel more dense.
How Do You Strengthen Your Legs Without Weights?
This question can be answered only if a few things are being met and clear.
1. Your GOAL
2. Your training program
3. Your training level
Based on these 3 above, you will able to determine the right strategy towards improving your legs strength without using weights.
Let's look up into a few scenarios:
1 lower body workout per week - here I would suggest higher volume (more repetitions in total) and higher intensity of your bodyweight exercises for legs. Due to the fact that you will have 6 days to recover your legs, it would be wise to get a solid session here.
A very effective way is to do EMOM (Every Minute on The Minute) workout frame. Reverse ladders are great as well. These two workout frames above will allow you to keep the intensity fairly high while throwing lots of repetitions. Boom, you have high volume, higher intensity lower body workout without weights.
2 lower body workouts per week - this is highly applicable in the Upper/Lower body training split. The best way here is to do 2 strength bodyweight leg workouts per week. However, if that's too much for you in terms of intensity, then you can split these 2 sessions into 1 strength and 1 high-repetition (hypertrophy) legs workout.
This way, you will have balance between strength and hypertrophy work. As result, you will not just gain muscle but you'll get stronger as well which is essential.
3 lower body workouts per week - great scenario if you follow 3 full body workouts per week. Here it would be good to perform 2-4 bodyweight exercises for legs per session. Depending on their intensity and as well, what upper body exercises you will include.
4-5 lower body workouts per week - great option for 4-5 Full Body HIIT workouts per week. This is not the best way to build legs strength, however, due to the high frequent stimulation of your lower body, you will get stronger. You'll build not that much of a brute, absolute legs strength but strength endurance, stamina and agility in your lower body.
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How Can You Build Your Legs at Home?
To build your legs at home, you have a couple of options:
1. Bodyweight exercises for legs applied - 1,2,3, 4 or 5 times per week. To get a few ideas, please refer to the chapter above.
2. Resistance band lower body exercises - the strength circle resistance band is a solid training tool that you can easily buy for 15-20$ and use as additional resistance for your home legs workouts.
3. Kettlebell - I have already shared with you that in my opinion, the KB is a fantastic training tool that will not just help you build more leg muscle at home but will provide you with very unique, explosive strength that no other training tool will offer you.
4. Pair of Dumbbells - another great tool you can use for legs mucle build at home.
5. Weighted vest - the weighted vest will help you alot to continue using only bodyweight exercises for legs, but the additional resistance that the vest will provide will help you accelerate the leg muscle building process.
How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out Legs?
The answer of this question will be determined mainly by your goal and availability (how frequent per week and how long sessions you can follow).
There are people who don't like working their legs too often. If you're one of these guys, I would highly recommend 2 lower body sessions per week. Use the upper-lower training split. 2 upper body + 2 lower body workouts will work great for you.
I'm not a fan of the 1 leg workout per week idea because oftentimes, you will over-train your legs in this day, and barely walk for the next 3-4 days. This is not a cool thing and you can easily avoid that by spreading your big leg session into 2 smaller leg routines. Simple as that.
If you like to train your legs more frequently, then 3 full body workouts per week will work great for you.
Or if you're a fan of the interval training, circuit training or HIIT workouts, then 4-5 full body sessions per week will do wonders for you.
How Long Should You Wait Between Leg Workouts?
It depends on the intensity, volume and frequency of the lower body workouts that you follow.
Again, here are a few templates that you can do:
1 leg workout per week - 6 days rest between leg workouts
2 leg workouts per week - 3-4 days between leg sessions
3 leg workouts per week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday template for example, 1-2 days max between leg sessions.
4-5 leg workouts per week - most often, 1 day rest between lower body workouts.
Now the numbers above are not precisely answering your question. However, these will give you some clarity and ideas that you can think off.
How Many Bodyweight Leg Exercises To Include In Your Lower Body Workouts?
If we look up into the workout options in the chapter above, we can state that the number of lower body exercises will be determined by the number of lower body sessions that you follow per week.
1 leg workout per week - 8-10 bodyweight exercises for legs, 3 max 4 sets per exercise.
2 leg workouts per week - 4-6 bodyweight exercises for legs, depending on their intensity. 4-5 sets for each exercise is optimal.
3 full body workouts per week - due to the fact that you'll have upper body movements as well in your sessions, I recommend 4 bodyweight exercises for legs included in each full body workout.
4-5 HIIT, Interval or Circuit training workouts per week - here a great pick would be 2 max 3 bodyweight exercises for legs. But stick with 2 leg exercises as a start. Increase that number over time.
Before You Go, Check These Bodyweight HIIT Workouts!
In this article, I have introduced yourself to 17 intense bodyweight exercises for legs.
We have also discussed many things in this article. How to build muscle with bodyweight exercises for legs. How to build yoru legs at home. What are the best bodyweight exercises for legs. How many days to wait between your leg workouts and a few more things.
For me, personally, the best way to develop not just leg muscle but explosive and endurance strength as well is to combine a lightweight kettlebell with bodyweight exercises for legs.
3-4 lower body workouts per week and in 1-2 months time, you will not recognize your legs! Gainz are real. The only thing you have to determine is the right leg workout frame to follow, how many exercises to include and the main thing, how to be consistent with this plan in order to build effective legs that will serve you well in life.
So what happens next?
Give some of these 17 intense bodyweight exercises for legs a test drive. Try some of these and let me know what you think!
I would love to connect!
Which bodyweight exercise for legs did you like most? What's your favorite?
Here are two more articles that I believe will serve you well related to the topic: bodyweight exercises for legs.
Thanks For Reading!