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Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises That Get Results

Mar 10, 2018

If you want a workout that will build muscle and burn fat at the same time, then you might be interested in some effective bodyweight leg exercises.

What’s even better than finding exercises that will target every single muscle in your lower body?

Effective leg exercises that will accomplish your goals just by using your bodyweight!

Even when just using bodyweight, it can be good to protect your back with our best-selling Dark Iron Fitness leather belt.

Protection, regardless of using weight or not, will still be very important.

Now, let’s discuss why effective bodyweight leg exercises are what you should strive for.


Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises Can Be Done Anywhere

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt

This means that you don’t even have to hit the gym to get them done since you can do them anywhere, anytime.

So, with these bodyweight leg exercises, you can effectively work your quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and hip stabilizers even from home.

“Your legs are half of your body, and they’re made up of the largest muscle groups in the entire body, which means you’ll burn more calories and get that metabolism burning for hours post-workout,” says Ethan Marine, body architect at Anatomy at 1220.

You can add these to your regular legs routine or use them as part of your conditioning circuit.

If you decide to do the circuit, do three to five sets of 20 reps per exercise.

Related: The 10 best bodyweight exercises for legs


Popular and Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises


Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Bodyweight Squats

Squats are considered to be the best exercise to build strong legs and firm glutes.

They work the quads, glutes, as well as your core.

  1. Stand with your feet either hip- or shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drive the hips back as if you were going to sit down on a seat behind you.
  3. As the hips drive back, bend your knees until you reach your desired depth.
  4. When your knees begin to shift forward, that is your end range.

As squats are one of the most popular leg exercises, you may eventually want to add weights while doing them.

Once you add weights to your squats, you should consider a Dark Iron Fitness leather belt to your arsenal.

Be safe while doing squats unweighted, as well as with weight.

Related: How Long Does It Take to See Results from Squats and Lunges


Jump Squats

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Jump squat

Jump squats take it up another notch and increase the intensity of the exercise.

These exercises are plyometric and will target the “fast-twitch” muscle fibers in the legs.

They will increase the heart rate to burn more calories and fat.

Plyometrics like this are a great way to build more defined, muscular legs.

Focus on speed here and try to squat with your thighs parallel to the floor rather than a full, deep squat.

  1. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart when standing.
  2. Lower down into a squat with your thighs parallel to the floor.
  3. Jump up as hard as you can, land in a squat position, and repeat.


Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises — Lunge Variations


Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Lunges

When you are in a lunge position your hips are divided in half, which requires a lot of stability.

The muscles worked here are the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

The hip stabilizers also get a workout here with this exercise.

  1. Stand straight, core tight, and step one leg back and bend both knees to a 90° angle.
  2. The shin on your front leg is vertical, and your knee should not pass the toe.
  3. When you’re ready to switch legs, drive the heel of the front foot into the ground and stand up.

Related: The Many Benefits of Squats and Lunges


Jump Lunges

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Jump lunges

This is a more advanced exercise so make sure your lunge form is perfect before adding plyometric movements to it.

This targets the same muscle groups but focuses on the fast-twitch muscle fibers—the fat burners—and increases the heart rate.

Jump lunges require good leg strength and conditioning as well as a great balance and coordination.

This is a very efficient unilateral exercise.

  1. Lunge with one leg bent forward at a 90° angle and the other bent behind you.
  2. Jump up explosively with your back leg, switch positions in the air and land with the opposite leg forward.


Side Lunges

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - side lunge with glides

With a side lunge, you are moving in a lateral plane, rather than a linear one.

It’s beneficial to have exercises that cover all planes of movement, especially in the legs.

We move our bodies in all different directions every day, so you shouldn’t train only with vertical or linear movements.

Keep your torso upright and your core tight throughout the movement.

Hold onto a sturdy surface if you need help getting used to the movement.

You can make side lunges more difficult by holding something heavy throughout the movement.

  1. Your legs should be wider than your hips so that you’re in a wide straddle position. The longer your legs, the wider your stance.
  2. Lean toward your left leg, bending down as far as possible. Your eventual goal should be to get the back of your leg to hit your calf, but don’t stress too much if you’re not there yet.
  3. Squeeze your glutes as you stand back up into the starting position, then lean toward the right leg and repeat.


Other Great Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises

Sumo Squats

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - sumo squat

To do a sumo squat properly your adductor muscles groups need to activate the hip and groin more.

  1. Your feet should be wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly (like a sumo wrestler). Keep your upright posture as you drop the hips down toward the heels, and the knees drive out.
  2. Keep the knees behind the toes and the shins vertical at the bottom of your squat.
  3. To stand up, push the heels down and out as if you are trying to rip the floor apart. Push your hips forward to a fully extended position.


Glute Bridges

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Glute bridge

This posterior chain exercise is perfect for anyone who has difficulty squatting or lunging.

This exercise will work your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

  1. Lie down on the floor on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push the heels into the floor as you raise your hips off the ground.
  3. At the top, squeeze the glutes and keep the abdominals tight to prevent your lower back from arching. Keep your shins vertical as you lower your hips back down to their original position.

Related: 10 benefits of glute bridges


Supine Leg Curls

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - leg curl with ball

This exercise works the same muscle groups as glute bridges except that they add more stress to the hamstrings due to the flexion and extension of the knee.

  1. Lie down on a smooth floor and start in the same position as the glute bridge.
  2. Place something slippery under your feet–socks, a towel, or an exercise ball.
  3. Raise and hold hips off the ground and extend the legs slowly, then pull from the heels back under the body.


Fire Hydrants

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Fire hydrant

The abductors and the glutes are targeted here.

This is great as a warm-up exercise before doing any standing multi-joint exercises.

  1. Get down on hands and knees, back straight and core tight.
  2. Raise one leg to the side, keeping your knee at 90°, then lower the leg back down to its original position.



Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Step ups with weights

A very effective low-risk exercise that is a great way to strengthen the legs and burn more calories.

Adding a single leg movement to your program will encourage balance in the body and legs and help you work on your stability.

This is an excellent exercise for glutes and quads.

  1. Place one foot on an elevated platform, like a bench, and push your leading foot down as you stand straight up.
  2. Avoid leaning forward or hinging at the hip.


More Challenging Leg Exercises

These next exercises are a bit more challenging, more time and practice may be needed to perfect these effective bodyweight leg exercises.

Squat into Tuck Jumps

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Squat jumps

This exercise combines two excellent bodyweight exercises that result in a challenging and dynamic plyometric movement.

As you become more comfortable with this exercise you can work on increasing your speed to get your heart rate up and to really feel the burn in your legs.

  1. Place your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Squat down as low as you can, go deep.
  3. Explode up, pulling your knees towards your chest as you rise.


Pistol Squats

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Pistol squat with weight

This exercise is a challenging one, even the more experienced athlete might find pistol squats difficult.

In addition to strong legs, you need to be flexible enough to lower down into a full squat.

You also need to have the balance and control needed to keep yourself from falling over.

Pistol squats might require some practice before getting used to them.

  1. Stand on one leg with the other leg straight out in front of you.
  2. Slowly lower yourself down on one leg as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  3. Focus on going down as far as you can, while the other leg remains straight and elevated. Remember this can take some practice!
  4. Slowly stand up and repeat on the other side.

Related: The 7 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Stronger Legs


Conclusion for Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises

So, do all these effective bodyweight leg exercises make you rethink your “leg day”?

Effective Bodyweight Leg Exercises - Dark Iron Fitness weightlifting belt

Hopefully, now you see why you don’t have to rely on weights and exercise machines to get strong and powerful legs.

Even if you are under time constraints, you can still perform a solid bodyweight leg routine!

This mix of unilateral exercises and plyometrics shows you how effective it can be when you just use your own bodyweight.

If you aren’t convinced that your bodyweight alone can give you great results and want to add some weights to your squats, support your back with our best-selling genuine leather Dark Iron Fitness weightlifting belt.

Related: The Benefits of Weighted Calisthenics