Working out your legs is a great way to build strength and endurance, and you can do plenty of exercises right at home.
I sat down with several fitness trainers and colleagues at Total Shape to come up with the best leg exercises that don’t require going to the gym.
After our discussion, I compiled a list of favorites that use minimal equipment yet provide the most benefit.
Let’s jump in.
- You can do effective leg exercises at home without gym equipment like a squat rack using weights, resistance bands, body weight, or a combination of the three.
- One of the best exercises for your leg day workout is a classic squat that works your whole legs.
- At-home leg workouts can help build stability and balance in the lower body.
Best Leg Workouts to Do at Home
Strong lower-body muscles are the foundation for whole-body stability.
Training them stimulates hormones, engages the core, improves posture, and alleviates back and joint pain .
I have separated the best leg workouts into three categories: weights, body weight, and resistance bands, so everyone should be able to find one that works for them and their available equipment.
Leg Workout with Weights
To avoid injury, use weights appropriate for your fitness level.
You can increase weight over time as you build muscle strength. Sets and reps will also depend on your fitness level.
1. Goblet Squat
You can perform goblet squats with a kettlebell or dumbbell. Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, with toes slightly angled outward.
- Hold a weight in both hands at chest level.
- Look straight ahead while engaging your core.
- Press your hips back and inhale as you bend your knees until your hips are below parallel with your knees.
- Keep the weight close to your body for the duration of the movement.
- Keep your weight slightly more toward your heels.
- At the bottom of the squat, your elbows should be on the inside of either knee.
- Press through your heels, exhale as you rise, and return to the starting position.
2. Pendulum Lunges
This variation of the traditional lunge will work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Begin with lighter weights and increase as you get stronger and more comfortable with the exercise.
- Step forward with your right foot into a classic lunge position with your right thigh parallel to the floor and your body upright.
- Push off your right foot and propel back into a reverse lunge.
- Your right foot should not touch the ground during the movement.
- Repeat for 30 seconds before switching to the left foot.
3. Romanian Deadlifts
Traditionally done with a barbell, but some variations include dumbbells and kettlebells.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart with a slight bend to your knees.
- Bend forward at the hips and grip the barbell with both hands aligned with the shoulders.
- With your legs bent, look down and just enough forward so your neck stays aligned with your back, avoiding hyperextension.
- Squeeze your glutes, hamstrings, and core while you drive your feet into the ground, standing up straight.
- Ensure the glutes are engaged and hips locked at the top of the movement.
- Lower the weight back to between your knees and toes, keeping the body parallel to the floor, the back flat, and the core engaged.
You’ll need a small step stool to perform this leg day exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
You could also stand at the bottom of the stairs. If you are new to this exercise, you can eliminate the weight to focus on proper form.
- With your arms at your sides, hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Place your left foot on the stool, ensuring your knee is bent 90 degrees.
- Keep your chest up and shoulders back, ensuring your upper body stays in a straight line.
- Push your body up with your left leg until it is straight, keeping your right leg elevated.
- Pause with your leg straight before returning to the starting position with controlled movement.
- Switch out the standing leg and repeat, ensuring you perform equal reps for both legs.
5. Weighted Glute Bridges
You can do the weighted glute bridge with your upper back supported on a bench to increase the difficulty and extend the range of motion.
- Lie on your back with a barbell or kettlebell over your hips.
- Keep knees bent, with feet planted on the floor and close to the glutes.
- Hold the weight with your arms straight.
- Push on the floor through your heels and brace your core as you lift your hips as high as possible.
- Squeeze glutes and lower to start under control.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Bodyweight leg exercises allow you to get a challenging and effective leg workout without equipment.
Give these exercises a try.
1. Jump Squats
- Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back straight and core engaged.
- Lower your body down until your thighs parallel the floor while pushing your hips back.
- Explode up from the squat position and drive your arms upward, landing back in the starting position.
- Do not let the knees cave inwards during the exercise to ensure proper form.
- Repeat for desired reps.
“The squat is arguably the king of lower body exercises. When it comes to building stronger hips and legs, squat variations are must-have exercises in your workout program.”
- Tyler Read, Certified Personal Trainer
Related: How to Do Box Jumps?
2. Reverse Lunges
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-distance apart.
- Lunge backward as far as you can with your left leg while dropping your hips downward.
- Your left knee should almost touch the floor while your right knee is at a 90-degree angle.
- From the lower lunge position, simultaneously push back to the start with both legs.
- Once you get back to the starting position, repeat the exercise with the right leg.
- Alternate legs and perform as many reps as possible for your fitness level.
Also Read: How to Do Lateral Lunges
3. Single-leg Calf Raises
Stand with your arms at your sides with feet shoulder distance apart.
- Shift onto one foot, raising your other leg off the ground slightly.
- Lean forward while arching your back parallel to the ground.
- While holding this position, rise onto the ball of your foot by pushing through your heel.
- Keep weight evenly distributed on both legs.
- Return to the starting position.
- Do equal reps for both the left and right legs.
Workout with Resistance Bands
Resistance bands offer an affordable and convenient way to work out the legs.
Try some of these resistance band exercises.
Stand with your feet hip-width inside a resistance band loop placed just above the knees.
- Slightly bend your knees into a semi-squatted position.
- Push your knees slightly outward and keep your core engaged.
- Press your left foot into the floor while you push yourself to the right.
- Step wide with your right foot.
- With your stance now more than shoulder-distance apart, bring your left foot toward your right until you return to the starting position.
- Alternate legs and repeat.
2. Air Squats
Place a resistance band around your thighs just above your knees, keeping your feet at shoulder-width.
- Ensure your feet remain flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
- Keep your core engaged.
- Bend at the hips and knees to lower yourself until your thighs parallel the floor.
- Hold for two seconds.
- Push through your heels back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
3. Touchdown Jacks
Attach the resistance band around your ankles and stand tall with your feet positioned under your hips and toes pointed outwards.
- Brace your core and jump your feet beyond your shoulder distance.
- Simultaneously raise your arms above your head.
- Ensure you jump your feet out wide enough, stretching the band wide.
- Jump your feet back to the start while simultaneously lowering your arms down.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
What Exercise Builds Leg Muscles the Fastest?
The exercise that builds leg muscles the fastest is squats because they work almost all the muscles in your lower body, like quads, hip flexors, hip abductors, hamstrings, and glutes.
Should I Work Out My Legs Every Day?
You should not work out your legs every day. Muscles need time to recover between workouts to avoid injury and reap the most benefit from your sessions. You can have a leg day three times per week, with each session targeting different areas.
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