Updated: Jul 12, 2020
Legs are the foundational structure that the body is built on. That is why its essential to help build them to be as strong as they possibly can be. They have such a significant purpose to support everything from posture to keeping ones frame proportionally balanced. That is why so vital that we make time to work out the legs.
There is no equipment is needed for leg workouts if you utilize these body weight exercises correctly. Strength leg workouts are slower in pace and require more rest time between sets and typically consist of doing 4 to 8 reps. The goal is to strengthen the muscle fibers in order to create overall stronger legs.
It’s important to work out legs because they help with posture, improve daily stamina, prevent the risk of injuries plus it develops a balanced, aesthetically pleasing body physique.
When doing a lower body workout at home, there are different styles of exercise that can be applied to the workout depending on the goal. Strength training helps with building strong muscles and laying a solid foundation. Hypertrophy training builds and tones muscle. Power training focuses on explosive movements to build strength, helps in fat loss and has more of a conditioning benefit than the other two.
Choosing the Right Workout Type
Squats are the foundation behind so many leg exercises and having good form with them is essential because you don’t want to create muscle imbalances or get injured. Muscle imbalances lead to sore knees, bad back, etc.
Squats are a great way to strengthen the legs but once you get to a point where you can do eight squats back to back then in order to keep improving strength, you must then create more of a challenge so the body adapts.
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Proceed to lower yourself, leaning forward a bit is okay but try to keep your shoulders pointed forward as best you can instead of angling straight at the floor. Lower yourself until your thigh (quads/hamstring part of the leg) is parallel to the floor. Then raise yourself back up.
Common pitfalls with people are not going low enough and when squatting people tend to angle their upper body more and more forward towards the ground than what’s needed. Both happen because of a few reasons, the biggest typically is not enough leg strength yet. One way to begin squats is to put a chair behind you under where your butt lowers to, tap the chair with your butt and raise yourself back up.
If you can master the basic squat, everything else comes after. There are dozens of variations of squats and multiple ways you can progressively overload them.
Other bodyweight squat variations and progressions are: jump squats, sumo squats, hindu squats, pistol squats and many more.
The Pistol Squat
This is a squat you start on one leg, your other leg is pointed straight out in front of you parallel to the ground. You slowly lower yourself down with just the one leg then raise yourself back up. This is an advanced exercise and requires superior leg strength and balance.
The next level of progression from just squats would be the assisted pistol squat, which is basically doing the pistol squat but holding onto a chair, TRX band or something else to lighten the load.
Hypertrophy training is around 8 to 12 reps and that focuses on growing the muscle size. I know sometimes women don’t want to get that bulky look so they won’t do strength or hypertrophy training. But that’s not the case unless you really try hard to get bulky.
Working out lower body will tone the legs. If you are worried about getting too big, I can promise you that won’t happen overnight — it takes months to years of heavy training. The same principle of progressive overload applies here.
Power training involves fast and explosive movements such as plyometrics like jump squats or box jumps. This type of exercise taps more into the conditioning side as well because it gets your heart rate higher than strength or hypertrophy training.
These exercises are great to do in between strengthening exercises to get increase fat burning.
Conditioning has a focus on keeping the heart rate high and can be included in workouts or act as stand alone workouts. Running, swimming, snow skiing, skating biking, sled pushes are great examples.. The goal is for cardiovascular endurance.
You should also incorporate light conditioning — such as walking, light jog or elliptical — on non-strength days about one to two days a week.
Lunges are great for hitting different leg muscles that the squat may have missed and to work them at varying angles.
Bodyweight Forward Lunge
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift and move one leg forward far enough that your center of gravity is in the middle, not too far one way or the other, and your extended leg’s knee aligns with your foot.
Then lower yourself down until your back leg’s knee comes a few inches from the ground and lift yourself back up, making sure not to round your back. Return back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg. That’s one full repetition of a lunge.
To make this more difficult, you can make it a jumping lunge. Where you have the same split leg stance, when you come up you jump in the air switching the position of your legs and lower yourself back down and repeat.
If it’s too hard on your knees, then opt for a reverse lunge.
Other bodyweight lunge variations are: rear lunge, jumping lunge, walking lunge and more.
3. Side Steps
Performing exercises that move in a different plane of motion than normal activity causes the body to strengthen areas that may be underworked. An example of this is by side stepping or doing side lunges. This is great because it hits muscle groups on the lateral (outer) and medial (inner) sides of your body.
Bodyweight Side Step
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, take one leg and move it out to the side. Keep your weight and center of gravity over your planted leg and lower yourself slightly as the leg moves out. Then move the extended leg back to starting position, all while keeping your center of gravity in place with knees bent. Keeping your center of gravity in one place and also your knees bent, move the opposite leg out to the side.
Again, with your center of gravity over the planted leg. Your planted leg should be slightly bent, keeping constant tension on whichever leg is planted.
The next progression to this is the side lunge.
Other bodyweight side step/lunge variations are: resistance band side step/lunge, skaters, side lunge with hop and more.
When you hold yourself in place and have constant muscle tension without moving the joint that’s what is known as isometric exercises. Planks are great for strength and improve balance as well as building connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons.
Benefits of Strong Legs
Strong legs will help keep good posture and helps keep your back pain-free, reduce muscle imbalances, lower the chance of injury, and lessens tension on joints as well as helping to keep internal organs functioning properly.
2. Improved Stamina Having a better quality of life for day-to-day activities is another great benefit of staying physically fit and having strong legs.
The more you workout your legs, develop cardiovascular endurance in them and strengthen them the easier day to day tasks such as walking, carrying groceries, climbing stairs, playing with kids will become and enjoy your relationships and find more joy in your life.
3. Reduce the Chance Of Injury
Strengthening legs helps reduce the risk of having an injury. Injuries happen generally due to connective tissue, weaker muscles or imbalanced muscles didn’t hold their own resulting in damage to the body.
4. Strong Toned Legs Are Attractive
Strong legs make you feel better about your appearance and build your confidence. In men, strong legs represent masculinity in men and powerful femininity in women. For both genders a proportional body is attractive!
Home Workout for Legs: 30 Minute HIIT
I put in plyometric (jumping) exercises but if they’re too much just regress it to the non-jumping version of that exercise.
1. Warm Up:
1 minute jumping jacks
1 minute knee-ups
30 seconds mountain climbers
2. First AMRAP: 8 minutes
12 split squat hops
12 Hindu squats (squats on tiptoes)
12 reverse lunges
12 sumo hops
3. Rest for 2 minutes
4. Second AMRAP: 8 minutes
12 squat jumps
12 side lunge (6 per side)
12 reverse lunge to single leg jump (6 per side)
5. Rest for 2 minutes
6. Third AMRAP: 8 minutes
12 lunges (6 per side)
12 ice skaters
30 jumping jacks
7. Cool down: Stretch and catch breath