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6 Bodyweight Leg Exercises To Do at Home

Published May 04, 2019 (Revised: August 13, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>Bodyweight leg workouts make your legs stronger, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="increase core strength">increase core strength</a>, and increase cardiovascular fitness. The right leg workouts burn a ton of calories and give you results in just thirty minutes per day.</p> <p>There is one key to a good bodyweight workout that a lot of people don’t know. That key is <em>proper exercise progressions</em>.</p> <p>Without the right exercise progression, you risk ineffective workouts, feeling discouraged about what you can’t do, or even injuries to your knees, hips, or ankles.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll break down the six best bodyweight leg workout progressions you can do at home. We’ll also explain why exercise progressions are <em>essential</em> for getting results, and how it’s totally possible to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="add lean muscle">add lean muscle</a> to your legs doing just bodyweight exercises.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Does a Good Bodyweight Leg Workout Look Like?</header> <p>Your legs contain some of the biggest muscles in your body. The <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="glutes">glutes</a>, hips, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="calves">calves</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="hamstrings">hamstrings</a> are the primary muscles you’ll work in a leg workout. </p> <p>A good bodyweight leg workout trains these major muscle groups, your core, and your cardiovascular fitness at the same time.</p> <p>When you work out your legs, you almost always work out your core, too. You can’t do squats or lunges correctly without working your abs and lower back muscles.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How Do I Build My Legs Without Weights?</header> <p>Over time, build up the number of reps and sets you’re doing during workouts. This is the key to building strong, lean, and toned legs. You don’t need weights or fancy equipment to constantly progress the exercises you’re using in at-home workouts—just incremental progress.</p> <p>For example, if you do a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="high-intensity interval">high-intensity interval</a> (HIIT) workout of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="squats and push-ups">squats and push-ups</a>, count the total number of push-ups and squats you did in that workout. Write it down. Next time you do that workout, aim to do 2 to 3 more total push-ups or squats. <em>Yes</em>, 2 to 3 reps is enough. </p> <p>Remember, little jumps are the way to go.</p> <p>And when the exercise gets easier, <em>progress</em> to the next one in the sequence. It’ll be hard at first, but those tiny jumps will compound over time into noticeable results.</p> <p>(There are eighteen total exercises and six bodyweight leg workout progressions below).</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Can I Get Bigger Legs with Bodyweight Exercises?</header> <p>Yes, you can. If adding lean muscle to your legs is the goal, you should focus on high-intensity <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="full-body exercises">full-body</a> exercises during your workouts. </p> <p>The key to getting bigger, more muscular legs (or making them toned and fit) is to incrementally add to your exercise progressions―rep by rep, set by set. If you constantly force your body to get stronger by doing a little more each time you exercise, you will get results.</p> <p>But don’t make <em>huge</em> jumps with your exercise progressions. That will just lead to poor form and injuries. Instead, focus on adding a few reps or seconds or build up slowly when you start using a harder leg exercise in your exercise progression.</p> <p>Results take time, but exercise progressions are a proven way for getting them. Slow and steady wins the race—that’s why it’s called a healthy <em>lifestyle</em>!</p> <p>Oh, and for what it’s worth, a good diet helps you build muscle, too. </p> <p>One reason we love the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="keto diet">keto diet</a> is it not only helps people lose weight, but you’ll eat a ton of muscle-building protein like fish, eggs, and other lean meats.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Is an Exercise Progression?</header> <p>If you peruse <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="Warrior Made’s fitness blog">Warrior Made’s fitness blog</a>, you’ll notice we talk about fitness progressions a lot.</p> <p><em>So, what’s a progression, and why is it a term you should know?</em></p> <p>Depending on your fitness level, an exercise progression takes a fundamental movement—like a squat—and moves the squat from beginner to advanced. The core of each exercise in the progression is still a squat, but each squat variation gets a little more challenging.</p> <p>For example, a bodyweight squat might be number two or three in a squat progression. You might use <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="sit to stands">sit to stands</a> to develop the muscles in your legs, like the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="glutes">glutes</a>, quads, and hips, first. </p> <p>Then once you’ve mastered the squat, you might progress to a more challenging squat exercise, like a jump squat.</p> <p>Exercise progressions don’t have a ‘set’ number of movements. They might have two, three, or even five different exercises.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Why Are Exercise Progressions Important?</header> <p>Because exercise progressions are <em>the</em> fastest <em>way to get results</em>. If you’re serious about getting fit and healthy, focus on constant tiny improvements.</p> <p><em>Because it takes time for your muscles to get stronger and burn off stored fat</em>. That’s why it’s better to do a lot of quality reps and build up slowly over time. If you’re doing advanced exercises with poor form because you aren’t strong enough yet to do them correctly, you’ll burn fewer calories, get discouraged, or possibly get injured.</p> <p>And if you never progress your exercises—for example, you <em>never</em> try bodyweight squats and only ever do sit to stands—your workouts won’t be challenging and you won’t get results.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The 6 Best Bodyweight Leg Workout Progressions</header> <p>You can do these bodyweight leg workout progressions right at home.</p> <p>Check out the “Use This Legs Progression For” ideas at the top of each leg workout for the specific benefits of each workout progression.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">1. Lunge Progression: Alternating Reverse Lunges, Drop Lunges, Jump Lunges</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="strong glutes">strong glutes</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="hamstrings">hamstrings</a>, and stabilization and balance (one-legged exercises are also great for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="core strength">core strength</a>).</p> <p>Because most people are ‘quad-dominant,’ glute training should be a priority for your workouts. Weak glutes are a muscle imbalance that can lead to back pain, knee pain, and make you weak at certain exercises. And lunges are fantastic for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="strengthening the glutes">strengthening the glutes</a>. </p> <p>Alternating lunges require no jump. Over time you can add plyometrics in with this progression, doing sets of drop and then jump lunges in smaller sets until you feel comfortable stringing them together.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">2. Squat Progression: Sumo Squat, High Side Lunge, Low Side Lunge Progression</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: strong legs, increased hip flexibility, or if you can’t do full bodyweight squats yet.</p> <p>This squat and lunge progression is great for mobilizing your hips and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="glutes">glutes</a>. And because you don’t have to do a full squat, they may be good if you have <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="bad knees">bad knees</a>, too.</p> <p>Side stepping during these exercises works your legs differently than regular squats. Stepping laterally with your feet can actually <em>prevent</em> injuries and make you stronger for normal variations of squats and lunges.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">3. Split Squat Progression: Split Squats, Couch Split Squat, Jumping Couch Split Squat</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: a lower body workout challenge. Good split squats are challenging because they isolate one leg at a time.</p> <p>Similar to the lunge progression, you’ll move from non-plyometric to jumping in this progression. The only difference is the first <em>two</em> require no jumping, not just the first. Regular split squats progress to couch split squats, which only increase the range of motion.</p> <p>With split squats, do all the reps on one leg before switching. This makes them different from alternating lunges.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">4. Squat Progression #2: Feet Together Squats, Alternating One Down Two Up, Alternating One Leg Sit to Stands</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: a lower body workout challenge, to strengthen your knees, or mobilize your knees and ankles.</p> <p>Feet together squats make your ankles and knees more flexible. If you have <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="bad knees">bad knees</a>, they are a great first squat exercise to help build up the muscles around <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="your knees">your knees</a>.</p> <p>This progression works up to alternating one-legged sit to stands. You can modify these when you first start by adding a pillow to the couch which will decrease range of motion. Over time remove the pillow and try to touch the couch.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">5. Leg Workout Progression: Bear Squats, Alternating Curtsy Lunge, Dragon Twists</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: a lower body workout that will also get your heart rate up.</p> <p>Your arms and legs are working in this leg workout progression, which turns this into a full-body cardio workout.</p> <p><em>All leg exercises</em> need good form but be careful working curtsy lunges into your workouts. Make sure the lateral step or ‘curtsy’ isn’t putting a ton of pressure on the knee in front. You can do this by keeping the weight of your body in your heel, not on the front of the foot. And increase your range of motion over time.</p> <p>Dragon twists add an extra layer to the curtsy lunge. You’ll turn around and face the wall behind you for each rep. This is good for strengthening your legs and increasing ankle/hip flexibility.</p> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <div class="sub-head">6. Plyometric Squat Progression: Sit to Stands, Sit to Hops, Jump Squats</div> <p><b>Use This Legs Progression For</b>: to practice squats (the ‘king’ of all bodyweight exercises), strengthen the legs, and for cardio workouts like <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="circuit training">circuit training</a> or <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="high-intensity interval training">high-intensity interval training</a> (HIIT).</p> <p>The final leg workout progression is perhaps the most simple—but don’t mistake it for not being challenging. </p> <p>When you start working out, sit to stands might be feel like good cardio. But anyone that’s worked out for a long time will tell you jump squats <em>never stop</em> being a good cardio workout.</p> <p>Focus on all the keys for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="perfect squat form">perfect squat form</a> during these three leg exercises. Your legs and feet leave the ground during the second and third movements, but you can work up to jumping higher as you practice.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Bodyweight Workouts for Your Legs—Wrapping Up</header> <p>Bodyweight leg workouts get results. You can add muscle, burn fat, tone your legs, and improve cardiovascular fitness. But the key to getting results is proper progressions. Small, constant improvements over time will compound and lead to the results you want for your health and body.</p> <p>Try one or all of these six leg exercise progressions. If you can’t do some of them yet or can’t jump, don’t sweat it. Start where you can and work up slowly. That’s the fastest way to reach your goals!</p> <p>Good exercise progressions like these will help you achieve your health fitness goals. So will a supportive community of like-minded people, a little motivation, and great coaches. </p> <p>And you know what? Warrior Made offers it all. With these tools, we’ve helped thousands reach their weight loss goals.</p> <p>Learn more about how the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer" title="Warrior Made Community">Warrior Made Community</a> can help with your total body transformation.</p> </section> </article>

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