We all know the importance of training lower body, or as some call it, leg day. But for some reason, this seems to be the one part of a workout routine that gets overlooked. Of course, we can’t always make it to the gym (and sometimes, nor do we want to). This is where an at-home leg workout comes to the rescue—no weights required.
You might be wondering if you can build muscle without weights. Not only is it possible, but it can even be preferred. This is because bodyweight leg workouts are less likely to lead to injury. And with enough repetitions, it can be just as effective as weight training in achieving muscle hypertrophy—the process through which you build your muscles.
For optimal muscle-building, make sure you’re working out a given muscle one or two times per week. Aside from that, it’s important to challenge yourself so that your muscles have to work a little bit harder every time. And lastly, let’s not forget about the importance of good nutrition in helping your muscles develop.
Since we’re all at unique points in our fitness journey, we need a leg workout that fits our goals. Here are five of the best leg workouts without weights so you can look and feel your personal best:
1. Beginner’s Leg Workout
If you’re new to resistance training, it’s important to start slow and build your workout routine as you go along. It might also help you stick to easier movements since you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with an overly-complicated leg workout. Here’s a leg workout routine that’s ideal for those just starting out:
- 10 Regular Squats
- 10 Reverse Lunges
- 10 Basic Glute Bridges
- 10 Calf Raises
Repeat this sequence two or three times. Make sure to take a short pause in between each rep. If you feel like you can do more, then you should totally go for it! But make sure to stop when you’re feeling fatigued.
How To Do It
You don't have to be a personal trainer or fitness expert to do bodyweight exercises. If you feel like challenging yourself or exceeding your fitness goals, try adding weight to the below exercises.
- Regular Squat: This is a classic exercise that should be in everyone’s workout routine. To do it, keep your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out. Make sure your right foot and left foot are the same distance apart. Next, keep your heels firmly planted on the ground, bend your knees and send your hips down as if you were sitting back in a chair. Make sure that you can still see your toes when you’re at the bottom of your squat.
- Reverse Lunge: This is a great exercise for building your glutes. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, step backward with one foot, making sure to keep the heel off the ground. Bend both knees as you sink into a lunge, making sure to keep them at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
- Basic Glute Bridge: To do this exercise, lie down on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Next, lift your hips all the way up while digging your heels into the ground while making sure to squeeze your glutes as much as you can. Keep in mind that your hips may try to sink down, but try to keep them as high as you can throughout the whole workout!
- Calf Raise: Our calves often get neglected, but they’re incredibly important to work out. To do this, begin by standing on the ground and keeping your hands on your hips for balance. Then rise onto the balls of your feet, making sure to squeeze your calf muscles. Release back to the ground and repeat.
2. The Killer Leg Workout
If you consider yourself an athlete, you might want something that challenges you and really gets to building those leg muscles. Here’s a killer leg workout for you to try out at home.
- 1 Minute of Squat Jumps
- 30 Seconds Pistol Squats (each side)
- 30 Seconds Single-Leg Glute Bridge (each side)
- 30 Seconds Bulgarian Split Squats (each side)
- 30 Seconds Single-Leg Calf Raises (each side)
Try to repeat this sequence at least four times. But if you reach the end and feel like you can still walk, then we’d repeat the sequence until that’s no longer the case!
How To Do It
- Jump Squat: This is a variation of the classic squat that will have your legs burning. To do it, assume a regular squat position, then jump up explosively. When you land, get back down into the squat position. Try to do this with as much control as possible, which will challenge you even more.
- Pistol Squat: Otherwise known as the one-legged squat, this is an incredible way to challenge your leg strength. To do it, stand with your feet next to each other. Next, one leg and extend it forward. Use the standing leg to complete a squat (although it might be hard to bend your knee completely). You can extend your arms out to help with balance.
- Single-Leg Calf Raise: This is a challenging variation of the regular calf raise. To do it, raise one leg to your hip while using the standing leg to rise onto the ball of your foot. For an extra challenge, you can hold the pose for several seconds.
- Bulgarian Split Squat: To do this exercise, begin by facing away from a chair. Put one foot behind you on top of said chair and bend the other leg until you’re at a 90-degree angle. Push yourself up using the front leg to return to starting position.
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge: A regular glute bridge is simple, but the one-leg variation can be seriously challenging. Lie on the floor with both feet on the ground, and your hips raised and raise one leg in front of you. Next, push your hips forward as high as possible—slowly lower back down to the ground keeping your leg raised.
3. The Glute Builder
Sometimes, we want to do that one extra workout to make sure our glutes are really developing. Here’s an at-home workout that targets the glutes solely so that you see those gains extra quickly.
- 25 Deadlifts
- 25 Hip Thrusts
- 25 Fire Hydrants
- 25 Donkey Kicks (each side)
- 25 Side Lunges (each side)
Try to repeat this routine at least three times. For the best results, it’s a good idea to do this two to three times per week.
How To Do It
Deadlift: A deadlift is one of the best ways to build your hamstrings and glutes. Although it’s preferable to do it with weights, you can skip out on them instead of higher repetitions.
Begin this exercise by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then slowly bend at the hips, keeping your back in a straight position. Go as far as you can without bending your knees or your back until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
Hip Thrust: This is the best exercise for building your glutes. To do it, elevate your back on a couch (or something of a similar height) and keep your hips lifted.
Next, dip your hips down as far as they can go and thrust them back up with as much force as you can muster. For extra resistance, hold something heavy—such as a bag of rice—over your hips.
- Fire Hydrant: This is a fun exercise perfect for building your glute and hip muscles. Start by getting into a tabletop position on the floor. Next, lift one leg away from the body, keeping your knee bent. Lower it back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Donkey Kick: This is another exercise that’s perfect for directly targeting the glutes. Get into a tabletop position on the floor. Next, simply lift one leg up towards the back, keeping it as straight as possible. Make sure to squeeze at the top. If done right, you should feel a contraction in your glute muscle.
- Side Lunge: To do this exercise, keep your feet facing forward while standing with your hands on the hips. Next, take a step to one side, keeping the stepping leg bent at a 90-degree angle. The other leg can stay extended. Push back up to the starting position using the force of your legs.
4. The 5-Minute Travel Workout
If you’re traveling, the last thing you want to do is spend significant time working out. That said, it’s still important to get a workout in! Here’s a 5-minute one that you can do from the comfort of your hotel room while leaving you with enough time (and energy) to get to your travel itinerary.
- 1 Minute Wall Sits
- 1 Minute Alternating Jump Lunges
- 1 Minute Inner Thigh Raises (each side)
- 1 Minute Calf Raises
How To Do It
- Wall Sit: This is one of the easiest home leg workouts you can do. Simply lean with your back against a wall, keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle. Now, hold! This will seriously challenge your stamina while helping you build your quads, glutes, and calves.
Alternating Jump Lunge: This is an exercise that will not only build your legs but challenge your cardiovascular system, too. To do it, get into the starting position with one leg forward and one leg back.
Quickly jump up and land in a deep lunge position. To alternate, jump up and quickly reverse the position of your legs, making sure to land in a lunge again.
- Inner Thigh Lift: This is a great way to recover from your alternating jump lunges while building the muscles of your inner thighs. To do it, lie on one side, propping your head up with your arm and keeping your legs extended straight.
Place one leg over the other so that your knee is bent and facing the ceiling. Next, lift the leg that’s still straight until you feel a contraction in your inner thigh.
5. The Yoga Leg Workout
If you think that yoga is a gentle workout that’s mainly good for stretching, then this routine will make you seriously rethink that. Here are some of the best muscle-building leg workouts from the world of yoga:
- 1 Minute Chair Pose
- 1 Minute Warrior 3 (each side)
- 1 Minute Crescent Pose (each side)
- 1 Minute Goddess Squats
To keep in line with the main tenets of yoga, you should repeat this routine as many times as feels right to you. While challenging yourself is important, you always want to feel comfortable to avoid the risk of injury.
How To Do It
- Chair Pose: This is a classic yoga pose that’s perfect for strengthening your quads, glutes, and calves. To do it, stand with your feet together. Next, while keeping your back straight and your arms raised in front of you, drop your hips as if you were sitting in a chair. Let the burn begin!
Warrior 3: This pose will not only challenge your leg strength but your balance, too. To do it, start by standing with your feet together. Next, begin raising one leg back while simultaneously bending forward at the hips.
Your torso should be bent at a 90-degree angle, and your leg should be extended completely back. To help with balance, keep your hands firmly clasped in front of your chest.
- Crescent Lunge: This is a pose that—like most yoga poses—will challenge your balance. Get into a lunging position with your hands on the ground. Next, raise your torso and your arms so they’re next to your ears. Make sure to squeeze your inner thighs towards each other to help balance and strength.
- Goddess Squat: Begin this exercise with your feet further than shoulder-width apart and your toes facing out at a 45-degree angle. Next, drop your hips straight down until your knees are bent 90 degrees. Keep your hands clasped in front of you to help with your balance.
For Your Best Legs
There’s no reason to use weights to build your legs. With our at-home leg workouts, you’ll develop well-defined and muscular legs that you’ll be proud to show off.
But for those times you want to enhance your routine with some exercise equipment, EnergyFit's rowing machine options are amazing for building leg muscles while challenging your cardiovascular system.