Best Calisthenics Leg Workout Routine (No Gym Needed)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Last updated: November 23, 2023
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Lower body calisthenics exercises provide the freedom to engage in workouts anytime, anywhere, as they demand little to no equipment, like pull-up bars or resistance bands.

All you require is a small space for hopping and lying down.

Drawing upon my extensive expertise as a fitness professional, I decided to share the best calisthenics leg workout that will allow you to elevate your strength, muscle growth, and flexibility to new heights.

Quick Summary

  • The best calisthenics leg workout includes bodyweight squats, walking lunges, calf raises, pistol squats, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, wall sits, and glute kickbacks.
  • Calisthenics leg workouts enable you to enhance your strength and performance through functional movement patterns.
  • Incorporate isometric exercises into your routine, implement maximal contractions, and include rest days to optimize your calisthenics leg workout.

Top Calisthenics Leg Workout Routine

picture of people doing a leg workout

1. Bodyweight Squats

The bodyweight squat is one of the most essential bodyweight leg exercises. It aids in weight loss and targets key leg muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glute muscles [1].

How to do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and toes pointed outwards.
  • Drive your glutes as close to the heels as possible. Put your arms forward to help keep balance, keep your chest as upright as possible throughout the movement, and keep your feet as flat as possible.
  • Push your hips forward to return to the standing position.
  • Repeat until you finish three sets of fifteen reps.

Read More: Pause Squats: Proper Form, How To & Benefits

2. Walking Lunges

Lunges demand a slightly higher body awareness level than the previous exercise (bodyweight squats). However, they are an ideal complement to bodyweight squats as they target your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves [2].

Additionally, lunges incorporate a balance component and provide an excellent opportunity to enhance stability and coordination.

How to do this exercise:

  1. Maintain an upright posture, with your arms resting comfortably at your sides.
  2. Step forward with your right leg, keeping a straight back.
  3. Lower your hip until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Push through your right foot while bringing your left foot to the front.
  5. Continue alternating between legs until you complete the desired number of sets.

3. Calf Raises

a photo of sporty legs calf

This isolation exercise targets the calf muscles and can help you build sturdy legs and enhance overall lower body strength.

How to do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift up onto the balls of your feet while keeping your shoulders back, engaging your core, and standing straight.
  • Hold for two seconds while squeezing the calves, and slowly lower yourself to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat until you complete two to three sets of fifteen reps.

“Control the tempo of the exercise to see the full benefits of standing calf raises. Performing the movement too quickly isn’t as effective–at least in the beginning.”

- Chelsea Evers, Personal Trainer 

Read more: 10 Best Calf Exercises for Mass and Strength

4. Pistol Squats

The pistol squat is an advanced unilateral exercise that engages multiple leg muscles, including the hip abductors, hamstrings, quads, glutes, abs, and calves. It challenges your lower body stability more than the previous exercises.

How to do the Pistol Squat:

  • Stand straight with your feet together, facing forward.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can, keeping it straight. The other foot should be rooted firmly on the floor, and your arms should be placed forward for counterbalance.
  • Lower down, tracking your knee on top of your foot while keeping a neutral or slightly flexed spine and engaging your core.
  • Pause at the bottom position for two seconds, then push through your heel to return to the standing position.

5. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

a picture of a man doing a Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Single-leg Romanian deadlift is a challenging vertical hip-hinge exercise that primarily works the hamstrings and glutes.

How to do this exercise:

  1. Place your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Kick back with your left leg and lean forward until your torso is parallel to the ground, keeping your right leg stationary and slightly bent.
  3. Bring your left leg up before returning to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side and keep alternating between legs until you complete the desired number of repetitions.

6. Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat effectively engages all major lower body muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. This exercise demands a higher level of balance, making it a more challenging movement.

​​How to do this exercise:

  • Find a chair or couch that is approximately knee height or lower.
  • Stand in front of it, ensuring you are standing at a distance that allows you to extend your back leg and lower yourself straight down easily.
  • Place one foot on the edge of the chair or couch.
  • Lower yourself into a deep lunge while keeping your torso lifted. Shift the majority of your body weight towards your front leg.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing through the heel of your front foot while maintaining your balance with your rear foot.

“If you ever find yourself rising onto the ball or toes of your front foot, stop the exercise and reset. Check the placement of your front foot—you may need to shift it forward—and ensure you're keeping your torso upright and tall as you perform the exercise.”

- Laura Williams, Fitness Expert 

7. Wall Sits

a picture of a person doing a wall sits

This low-impact exercise works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It helps improve strength and endurance for other calisthenics leg exercises.

How to do this exercise:

  1. Find a wall and come into a squat position, ensuring that your knees are aligned with your ankles, and your legs should be at 90 degrees.
  2. Push through your weight back into the wall.
  3. Hold this position for thirty seconds while engaging your core.

8. Glute Kickback

Also known as the quadruped hip extension, this is a great isolation exercise to activate your gluteus maximus and the hamstring while increasing your core stability and lower back muscles [3].

How to do it:

  1. Come into a box position by placing your hands directly under your shoulders, ensuring you keep a straight back.
  2. Drive your right leg towards the ceiling until you sense the contraction in your glutes.
  3. Pause for three seconds while squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  4. Return to the starting position and proceed with the exercise until you reach a total of fifteen reps and repeat on the opposite side.

Also read: How To Do Cable Kickbacks

What Are the Benefits of Calisthenics Leg Workout?

a photo of a person doing a leg workout

The benefits of a calisthenics leg workout are improved cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, body composition, posture, physical appearance, and mental health, all while being more convenient.

  • Improved cardiorespiratory fitness - Recent research indicates that incorporating training routines requiring minimal time commitment and not requiring specialized equipment can effectively improve cardiorespiratory fitness [4].
  • Enhanced physical performance - When coupled with a balanced diet, calisthenics workouts can increase muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility [5].
  • Improves your physical and mental health - Numerous studies have consistently demonstrated that higher levels of physical activity are associated with reduced risks of severe health risks like diabetes, obesity, and various types of cancer. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise positively impacts your mood and sleep. Body-weight exercises are no exception to these advantages.

What Are the Drawbacks of Calisthenics For Lower Body Training?

a picture of a woman doing a lower back workout

The drawbacks of calisthenics for lower body training are non-linear progress, limited ability to effectively target the posterior chain and thighs, and relatively modest muscle gains.

  • Calisthenics workouts are harder to load - Compared to exercises using barbells and dumbbells, the ability to increase weight and adjust intensity is limited with bodyweight exercises, resulting in non-linear progress. However, you can incorporate killer leg exercises to avoid plateaus.
  • Limited ability to properly target the posterior chain and thighs - Calisthenics may not effectively stimulate the posterior chain and thigh muscles as comprehensively as weighted exercises. It is advisable to combine exercises that include both bodyweight and weighted movements to address these limitations.
  • Modest muscle gains - While bodyweight exercises are effective for toning up your body, attaining the physique of a competitive bodybuilder is exceptionally challenging or even unattainable through such exercises alone. With weight lifting, you can achieve more muscle gains.

Tips for Improving Your Calisthenics Leg Exercises

a photo of a woman doing a leg exercise

To improve your calisthenics leg exercises:

  • Incorporate Isometric Exercises - Isometric exercises like isometric lunges and hollow holds can help you increase your strength and avoid plateaus [6].
  • Use maximal contractions - Utilizing your mind-muscle connection to contract your muscles as forcefully as possible. This technique enhances muscle activation and generates a heightened stimulus, all without the need for weights.
  • Incorporate a rest day - Provide your body with at least twenty four hours of rest between workout sessions for adequate time for your muscles to repair and rebuild.

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What is a Calisthenics Workout?

Calisthenics is a type of resistance training that relies on your body weight as the resistance. The term calisthenics originates from the Greek words kállos, meaning "beauty," and sthenos, meaning "strength."

How Often Should You Do Calisthenics Leg Workouts?

You should do calisthenics leg workouts at least twice a week as you should train the legs more frequently, even more than your upper body. Allow a minimum of forty eight hours of rest between each leg calisthenics workout session to ensure adequate muscle recovery,


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