Best Calisthenics Leg Workout Routine (No Gym Needed)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

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.
  • Recent studies by the National Library of Medicine show that training routines that demand little time and no specialized equipment can significantly enhance cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • In my opinion, you should 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. According to ResearchGate, 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 your toes pointed outward.
  • 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

As a trainer, I find that lunges require a bit more body awareness compared to bodyweight squats. They are a perfect addition to squats since they effectively target the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves.

Moreover, lunges add a balance element, offering a great chance to improve stability and coordination for my clients.

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 hips 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

I find the Bulgarian split squat to be an excellent exercise for engaging all major lower body muscles, such as the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

Its requirement for a higher level of balance makes it a more challenging and effective movement for my clients.

​​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.

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 from the National Library of Medicine indicates that incorporating training routines requiring minimal time commitment and not requiring specialized equipment can effectively improve cardiorespiratory fitness [2].
  • Enhanced physical performance - According to a study in ResearchGate, when coupled with a balanced diet, calisthenics workouts can increase muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility [3].
  • Improves your physical and mental health - 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.
  • Enhanced Flexibility and Mobility - Regular calisthenics leg workouts can increase flexibility and mobility in the lower body, reducing the risk of injuries and improving performance in other physical activities.
  • Increased Balance and Coordination - Calisthenics leg exercises often involve balancing on one leg or coordinating complex movements, which can significantly improve balance and coordination.
  • Functional Fitness Improvement - Calisthenics focuses on movements that mimic everyday activities, thereby enhancing functional fitness. This can lead to better performance in daily tasks and other sports.

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.
  • 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.

Related posts:

FAQs

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."

Can You Build Legs With Calisthenics?

Yes, calisthenics can effectively build leg muscles. It utilizes bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and jumps, targeting various leg muscles, enhancing strength, and improving muscle tone without needing gym equipment.

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,

What Is the Most Effective Split for Calisthenics?

The most effective split for calisthenics typically involves a full-body routine or an upper/lower body split, allowing for balanced muscle development and adequate recovery, while ensuring consistent progression in strength, flexibility, and skill across all muscle groups.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341379044_The_Effect_of_8_Weeks_Squat_Exercises_Program_on_Body-Composition_in_Young_Males
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8136567/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283538191
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

A person working out with resistance band legs
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 4 months ago
Resistance Band Leg Workout (Tone Your Lower Body)
A group of women doing bodyweight leg workout
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 15 days ago
Bodyweight Leg Workout (Get Strong & Sculpted Legs)
A person working out with a pull up bar using bodyweight at a home gym
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 5 months ago
Best Bodyweight Exercise Equipment 2024: Zero Weights Needed
Dana Linn Bailey doing leg workouts at the gym for lower body muscles
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 2 days ago
Dana Linn Bailey's Leg Workout for Sculpted Lower Body
Jay Cutler revealing his leg workout routines
By Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC 5 days ago
Jay Cutler Leg Workout (Build Strong Legs like a Pro)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.