At-Home Leg Workouts For A Stronger Lower Body

At Home Leg Workouts

What do barbell squats, deadlifts, leg extensions, and leg presses have in common? They are all exercises that you can only really do in a well-equipped gym. Does that mean you can’t build your quads, hamstrings, and glutes at home? Absolutely not!

Here are FIVE great at-home workouts that will tone, strengthen, and sculpt your lower body without needing a gym.

  1. Tabata four-way leg workout
  2. Single-leg lower body workout
  3. Three-way squat tri-set
  4. Lethal walking lunges workout
  5. Wheels of steel density blocks

1 – Tabata four-way leg workout

Tabatas involve doing intervals of 20 seconds, interspersed with 10-second recoveries, repeated eight times to total four minutes. Usually associated with cardio training, you can also use Tabatas to challenge and develop your muscles, and they are especially useful for leg training.

This lower body workout uses nothing but bodyweight exercises and is over and done in under 20 minutes.

Do eight sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds recovery, of each of the following exercises:

  1. Squat jumps
  2. Reverse lunges
  3. Natural leg extensions
  4. Hip thrusts

Squats jumps

This explosive exercise works every muscle in your legs. It’s also an excellent fat-burning and cardiovascular conditioning exercise. Wear supportive, cushioned shoes for this exercise to protect your feet, ankles, and knees.

Jump Squats

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, squat down, and then jump up into the air as high as you can.
  3. Use your arms for extra momentum.
  4. Land on slightly bent knees to absorb the shock of landing and then descend into another rep.
  5. Try to minimize ground contact time between jumps by imagining the floor is hot.

Reverse lunges

Reverse lunges work all of your major leg muscles with an emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings. Working one leg at a time, this is a good exercise for identifying and fixing left-to-right strength imbalances.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides.
  2. Take a large step backward, bend your legs, and lower your rearmost knee down to within an inch of the floor. Keep your front shin vertical, so your knee stays behind your toes.
  3. Step forward and back up into the starting position.
  4. Do another rep but, this time, lead with the opposite leg.
  5. Keep alternating legs for the duration of your set.

Natural leg extensions

The leg extension machine is a popular gym staple, but you can do something very similar using nothing more than your body weight and a folded towel or exercise mat.

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on the floor with your body and thighs vertical. Cross your arms over your chest.
  2. Without bending your hips, bend your knees and sway backward, using your quads to control your descent. Lean back as far as you can.
  3. Contract your quads, push your feet and shins into the floor, and return to the upright position.
  4. That’s one rep – keep going!

Hip thrusts

Your final exercise emphasizes your glutes and hamstrings. It’s also the easiest exercise in the workout but, after everything you’ve just done, that’s no bad thing!

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat, heels about 6-12 inches away from your butt.
  2. Drive your hips into the floor and push your hips up until they form a straight line with your shoulders and heels.
  3. Lower your butt back down to the floor and repeat.

2 – Single-leg lower body workout

If bodyweight leg exercises have a disadvantage, it is that they are often quite easy. After all, your leg muscles are big and strong, and overload (your bodyweight) is limited. One way to make bodyweight leg exercises harder is to work one leg at a time. Single-limb exercises are much more challenging than their two-limbed counterparts.

Do four sets of 6-12 reps of the following single-limb bodyweight exercises, doing the same number of reps on each leg.

  1. Single-leg box squats
  2. Single-leg Romanian deadlifts
  3. Bulgarian split squats
  4. Step-through lunges
  5. Single-leg calf raises

Single-leg box squats

Single leg squats, also known as pistols, are an effective but tricky exercise. Using a box makes them less intimidating and also considerably easier as you won’t be able to descend too far or get stuck at the bottom of a rep.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a sturdy chair or knee-high box. Stand on one leg with your other leg extended out in front of you, your heel on the floor.
  2. Push your hips back and squat down until your butt lightly touches the chair/box. Keep your other leg out in front of you for balance.
  3. Stand back up and repeat, and then change legs.

Single-leg Romanian deadlifts

This exercise works your glutes and hamstrings, and, like most single-leg exercises, it’s also good for your balance. Stand near a wall if you find you need some extra support during this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, hands by your sides. Shift your weight over onto one leg. Bend your knees slightly for balance.
  2. Hinge forward from your hips and reach down to touch the floor in front of you. Extend your non-weight bearing leg behind you to act as a counterbalance.
  3. Stand back up and repeat, and then change legs.

Bulgarian split squats

While this isn’t a true single-legged exercise, it definitely emphasizes one leg more than the other. You should feel your front leg working much harder than your back leg during this great quad, hamstring, and glute exercise. Bulgarian split squats are also good for hip mobility. 

Bulgarian Split Squats

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a knee-high step or chair. Bend one leg and place your foot on the platform behind you. Hop forward and into a split-stance.
  2. Bend your legs and descend until your knee is just above the floor.
  3. Stand back up, repeat, and then change legs.

Step-through lunges

This single-leg exercise combines forward and reverse lunges to really challenge your coordination and conditioning.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides.
  2. Take a large step back with one leg, bend your knees, and lower your rear knee to within an inch from the floor.
  3. Next, step forward with the same leg and into a forward lunge. Again, bend your legs and lower your rearmost knee to within an inch of the floor.
  4. That’s one rep – step back, repeat, and then change legs.

Single-leg calf raises

You don’t need a calf raise machine to work your lower legs. All you need is a stable step, and the motivation and discipline to do this challenging exercise at home.

Single Leg Calf Raises By Arnold

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the ball of one foot on the edge of a step, so your heel is free to move. Keep your supporting leg straight and use your arms for balance.
  2. Lower your heel down as far as you can toward the floor and then rise up onto your tiptoes.
  3. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps and then change sides.

3 – Three-way squat tri-set

This short but tough bodyweight leg workout is ideal for when you don’t have time for a more involved training session or want a quick lower body workout after doing something else, such as some cardio. Don’t let the brevity of this workout fool you – it’s still gonna hurt!

Move quickly from one exercise to the next, only resting after completing the last one. Do three tri-sets in total.

  1. Paused box squats x 15 reps
  2. Kickstarter squats x 10 reps per side
  3. Wall squats x as long as possible

Paused box squats

Paused box squats combine several training elements to make one very challenging exercise. The pause between each rep makes jumping much harder and leaping up and onto a box means you can’t shorten your reps and cheat.

How to do it:

  1. Stand about two feet away from a knee-high box with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, swing your arms behind you, and squat down. Pause in this position for two seconds. Then, jump forward and up onto the top of your box, using your arms for extra momentum.
  3. Step back down, reset your feet and repeat.

Kickstarter squats

This squat variation puts a little extra weight on each leg as you work. Alternate sides to work both legs equally.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left heel off the floor and shift your weight over onto your right leg.
  2. Squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Stand back up, lower your left heel, raise your right, and repeat.

Wall squats

Your final squat variation is an isometric exercise. This means it doesn’t involve any movement. However, it isn’t easy, and you should expect your thighs to burn by the end of this exercise.

Wall Squats

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a smooth, strong wall. Lean against it with your heels about two feet away.
  2. Bend your legs and slide down the wall until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Push your back against the wall as hard as you can.
  3. Maintain this position for as long as possible, pushing hard the whole time.
  4. Rest 1-2 minutes and then repeat the three-exercise sequence twice more.

4 – Lethal walking lunges workout

Unlike most home leg workouts, for this one, you need some space. Do it in your yard if it’s big enough, or on the pavement in front of your house. This workout will leave your legs shaking and your muscles quaking!

  1. 50 walking lunges (25 per leg)
  2. 50 prisoner squats
  3. Walk, jog, run, or sprint back to the beginning and then do…
  4. – 40 walking lunges (20 per leg)
  5. – 40 prisoner squats
  6. – Walk, jog, run, or sprint back to the beginning and then do…
  7. – 30 walking lunges (15 per leg)
  8. – 30 prisoner squats
  9. – Walk, jog, run, or sprint back to the beginning and then do…
  10. – 20 walking lunges (10 per leg)
  11. – 20 prisoner squats
  12. – Walk, jog, run, or sprint back to the beginning and then do…
  13. – 10 walking lunges (5 per leg)
  14. – 10 prisoner squats
  15. – Walk, jog, run, or sprint back to the beginning

Walking lunges

This classic muscle-building exercise works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They’re typically done with weights in the hands and arms by your sides or on the shoulders, but they’re also an effective bodyweight-only leg exercise, especially when done for high reps.

Walking Lunges Bodyweight

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, hands by your sides. Take a large step to the front, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee down toward the floor.
  2. Step forward and through into another rep.
  3. Continue lunging forward, alternating legs each rep until you have done the prescribed number.

Prisoner squats

Prisoner squats are so-called because you have to hold your hands behind your head like a criminal about to be put in handcuffs. This helps keep your chest up so you can’t lean forward and makes bodyweight squats much harder, especially if you are out of breath.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your hands clasped behind your head, chest open, and arms pushed back. Step out and into a shoulder-width stance, with your toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Walk, jog, run, or sprint

Get back where you started the walking lunges by walking, jogging, running, or sprinting according to your fitness level and how tired you are. Take care if you run or sprint; your legs will be tired and may feel less stable than usual.

5 – Wheels of steel density blocks

Most workouts use sets and reps to control workout volume and intensity. That works well with exercises where you can fine-tune the weight according to your needs and current strength but is not so good for bodyweight exercises. Three sets of 15 could be too easy for one person, and much too hard for another.

With this workout, you simply do as many reps as you can in the time allowed. This means you can work at your own pace. Rest when you need to but work as hard as you can to clock up the maximum number of reps in the allocated time.

Do each of the following exercises for five minutes. Each period of five minutes is called a density block. Rest 1-2 minutes between blocks.

Your goal is to do more reps in the same time when you repeat this workout. More reps at the same time means you have increased workout density, and that’s where this workout gets its name.

  1. Sumo squats
  2. Prisoner good mornings
  3. Stay-low alternating lunges
  4. Heel slide leg curls

Sumo squats

This squat variation works all of your major leg muscles with an emphasis on your adductors or inner thighs, and your glutes.

Sumo Squats

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet roughly 1 ½ shoulder-widths apart. Turn your feet slightly outward.
  2. Push your hips back, your knees apart, and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.

Prisoner good mornings

How to do it:

  1. Place your hands behind your head and push your elbows back to open your chest. Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Without rounding your lower back, hinge forward (bend your torso down) from your hips as far as you can. Push your butt back to really stretch and work your hamstrings.
  3. Drive your hips forward and stand back up, but do not lean backward at the top. Doing so puts unnecessary strain on your lower back.

Stay-low alternating lunges

With regular lunges, you get a brief rest between reps when you stand up with your feet together. This exercise avoids this problem, providing your legs, and especially your quads, with a much more intense workout.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together, hands by your sides. Squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Without standing up, step forward and out into a lunge. Step back into a squat and repeat on the opposite leg.
  3. Continue alternating legs for the duration of your set.

Heel slide leg curls

You probably don’t have a leg curl machine at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a similar exercise to work your hamstrings. All you need if a folded towel.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back on a smooth floor with your legs straight and a towel under your heels.
  2. Simultaneously lift your hips and bend your knees, sliding your heels in toward your butt.
  3. Extend your legs, lower your butt back to the floor, and repeat.

FAQs

Do you have any home leg training questions? We’ve got answers! If you can’t find the information you are looking for below, drop us a line in the comments section, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Wrapping up

It can be hard to imagine a leg workout without barbell squats or leg presses, but, unless you have a well-equipped garage gym, that’s the reality of training at home. Don’t be discouraged, though – you can still get a good lower body workout even if you don’t have access to any exercise equipment. You’ll probably need to do more reps than usual and may need to include more single-leg exercises in your workouts, but you will still be able to tone, build, and strengthen your legs despite exercising at home.

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