Bodyweight leg exercises are movements done to build strong muscular legs and strengthen the lower body. It involves working on your legs by use of your own bodyweight and without any equipment. The legs have the largest muscles in your body, and several great exercises will work on the calves, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip stabilizers and fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.
Bodyweight exercises for legs have significant health benefits to the body, and these include:
Enhances a healthy heart
Bodyweight exercises cause the heart to pump faster and actively, hence reducing blood pressure and improve circulation. This strengthens the heart, making it gain the ability to perform its job well.
Reduces the risk of diabetes
Bodyweight training helps transportation of glucose into your muscles, and it is stored as glycogen, which is used as energy for later use. This reduces the amount of blood sugars and also prevents high levels of glycation end products from accumulating in the blood stream. Hence, no damage to the tissues, organs and blood vessels.
Increases in flexibility
Bodyweight workouts help to tighten the muscles, make the joints flexible and build body strength. This ensures that you can perform exercises in full range motion and the joints move freely, which leads to improved posture and reduces chances of exercise related injuries.
Improves core strength
They work on the core and engage a lot of muscles around it. This, in turn, builds a strong core and its strength, which gives one a better posture and improves performance.
Burns fat faster
When you do a bodyweight leg circuit, you are assured of losing weight faster as they have a significant impact on your metabolism; hence you lose weight.
Best Bodyweight Exercises for Legs
1. Bodyweight squat – The Most Important Move for Your Legs
This is the best exercise to firm the butt, legs and the muscles that are worked on are the glutes, quads, and core.
How to do precisely? Stand with your feet apart at hip width or shoulder width then drive your hips back as if you want to sit down. As you sit down, the knees should bend until you reach your desired depth but keep the shins vertical so that the knees don’t pass the toes. If you are a beginner, you should include it in your calisthenics leg training. Once, you are familiar with it, try other variations such as the prisoner or side to side.
2. Pistol squats – For Maximum Strength & Mass
This type of squat is harder than the regular move as you get to squat on one leg with your hamstring rests on the calf while the other leg is straight out in front of you. It works on the nervous system, core, and lower body muscle groups. It requires you to have extreme mobility on the hips, knee, and ankles. This calisthenics leg exercise is very efficient to build really strong legs and for mass.
How to do accurately?
Stand on one leg, with your hands wide open for balance and the other leg straight in front of you then lower yourself down as if you are sitting down. Focus on going down as far as possible while targeting to get the back of your leg to touch the calf muscle. Stand up and repeat the same for the other leg. You can start with single leg bench squat until you get strong enough.
This exercise works on your strength, stability, and flexibility as the hips are split in half. You get to work on the quads, glutes, hamstrings and the hip stabilizers.
How to perform correctly? While standing, step one leg backward and bend both knees to a 90 degrees angle. The front leg shin should be vertical, and the knee shouldn’t pass the toe. Your torso should be upright and tall and not leaning forward, and the core is tight. When switching legs, drive the front leg heel to the ground and then stand up to your original position. If you have a problem with flexibility, then use a bench or a box to make it a bit easier.
4. Plyometric jump (Box jump) for Explosive Power
Plyometrics are great exercises for increasing speed and leg strength as they teach the muscles to produce maximum force in the minimum time. While you jump, you are working on the glutes and hamstrings. You can perform plyometric jumps by use of a box or no box. It is important to include these moves in your leg workouts. They are excellent for developing your fitness level.
How to perform rightly? Get into a squat position with your feet at shoulder width apart. Squat deeper and then jump high up using the entire body to thrust yourself forwards. Land softly into the starting position. When you are using as a box, place the box about six inches in front of you and when you jump up, make sure that you land of the box softly by the feet balls.Related equipment: Boost your explosive power. Find the best plyometrics boxes here.
5. Glute Bridges
Bridges help you on flexibility and stability as they work on the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings and glutes.
How to perform correctly? Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground at about shoulder width apart. Place your hands flat above your shoulders and beside your ears then push your hands and feet into the ground while raising your hips up. While at the top position, tighten the abdominals and squeeze your glutes to prevent the arching at the lower back.
6. Single-leg hip raise
This increases the strength on the abs, glutes, hips and even your lower back.
How to do precisely?
Lie on your back with your arms at your side with palms facing upward. Bend the right knee and the foot flat on the ground and then raise the left leg so that it is in line with the right thigh. Raise your hips up while squeezing your glutes until your body is straight with your knees and shoulders. Holds this position for about 5 seconds and then lower back to the ground. Switch legs and repeat.
7. Running man
This position works on the latissimus, chest, deltoid muscles, hamstrings, abs, lower back, glutes, and quads. It will help you burn fat on the upper body while strengthening the core and improving the posture.
How to perform correctly? Lie on your stomach and place your hands shoulder wide apart and then raise yourself so that your weight rests on the hands while the elbows are straight. Your knees and hips should be straight too, and the legs close to each other with the toes resting on the ground. Keep the abs tight and the back slightly rounded, and the knees, hips, back and shoulders should be in line. In this position, perform the running action with the legs.
8. Calf Raises
This list would not be complete without mentioning exercises that increases the mass and the power of your calves. The single leg calf raise is the best for strength training, but if you cannot do at least 10 reps correctly, start with both legs.
Bodyweight Leg Workout for Mass & Power
Now you know the most beneficial exercises so let’s put them into a program. Below, you can find 3 calisthenics leg routines for beginners, intermediate and advanced trainees.
As you see there is no need to go to the gym to have a complete leg training. Do not underestimate the efficiency of these exercises they can really help you to get strong and muscular legs. If you are interested in other exercises using your own weight to strengthen other muscles at home, check out our calisthenics category.
- Single leg bodyweight exercises
- How to build strong legs for running
- Leg and butt workouts for women
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