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Proving the Ability to Enhance Strength without the Use of Weights: Leg Exercises with Bodyweight

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

While strength training for the lower body might be associated with lifting weights, you don’t always require dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or any equipment at all to have an effective workout. In fact, you can build strength by performing exercises that use only your body weight.

The greatest advantage? By skipping the equipment, you can do bodyweight leg exercises anywhere and at any time. “Many of us view time, money, and space as obstacles to working out,” says Tara Nicolas, a NASM-CPT instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. “But bodyweight training is inexpensive, and you don’t need much space.”

Furthermore, without having to handle a weight, you have better control over your lower-body movements. Eliminating a weighted counterbalance during stability exercises allows you to concentrate on how your body moves and what you must do to maintain stability. “Bodyweight exercises help you become aware of how your body is moving and any imbalances you may have on one side,” explains Nicolas. With these specific bodyweight leg exercises, you can also prevent injuries by strengthening muscle groups that are typically weaker, such as the hamstrings and glutes.


Are you ready to enjoy all the benefits that bodyweight exercises bring? Combine these essential exercises from Nicolas into a bodyweight leg workout that will undoubtedly leave your lower body shaking after just one set.


Equipment-Free Bodyweight Leg Workout

How it works: To warm up, use a foam roller on your quads, glutes, calves, and back, then perform 20-second intervals of air squats, lateral lunges, and inchworms. After that, do each exercise listed in the bodyweight leg workout for the recommended duration. Repeat the circuit as many times as desired.

What you’ll need: No equipment is required.

3 x 6 x 1 Squat


Take a stance with your feet a little wider than the width of your hips, with your toes turned slightly outward and your hands at your sides.



Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, lower yourself into a squat by sitting back into your hips and bending your knees. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. Make sure to maintain an upright chest and avoid rounding your back throughout the movement.



Once you reach the bottom of the squat, hold that position for a count of six. Then, as you exhale, push through your feet to straighten your legs and return to a standing position.

Continue this movement for 45 seconds


Squat with Alternating Calf Raise




A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. On an inhale, plant yourself into hips and bend knees to lower into a squat.

B. While maintaining the squat position and engaging core muscles, raise the left heel to perform a calf raise. Lower the left heel back to the ground, then repeat the action on the right side.


Keep alternating for 45 seconds.

Fourfold Hip Extension



A. Begin in a table-top position on the floor with hands stacked directly beneath shoulders, knees bent and stacked directly beneath hips, and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift the right knee and foot slightly off the ground to begin.


B. Draw the right heel toward the buttocks and propel the heel upward toward the ceiling, ensuring to engage the core and maintain a neutral spine.

C. Bring the right knee back down toward the ground without making contact.


Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Quadrupled Hamstring Curl

C. Straighten the right leg back to the initial position, maintaining the leg at hip height.

Continue for a duration of 45 seconds. Switch sides and repeat the exercise.

Quadrupled Fire Hydrant


Start in a tabletop position on the floor with hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees bent and stacked directly under hips, and feet hip-width apart.

B. Keeping right knee bent, lift right leg up and out to the side, raising it to hip height. Then, lower it back down to the starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Lateral Lunge Balance

A. Stand with feet close together, hands clasped in front of the chest.

B. Step out to the right side with the right foot, knees and toes facing forward. Bend the right knee and push the hips back, maintaining the weight on the right heel and ensuring that the right knee is over the ankle.

C. Push through the right foot to return to the standing position, then bring the right knee towards the chest while balancing on the left leg.

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

Jump Squat

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than the width of the hips, toes turned slightly outward, and hands at the sides.

B. On an inhale, lower into a squat by sitting back into the hips and bending the knees until the thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. Keep the chest lifted and prevent the back from rounding throughout the movement.

C. On an exhale, explosively jump up, straightening the legs. Land softly with bent knees, and lower back into a squat.

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      Continue for 30 seconds.

      Fast Ice Skater



      A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides. Transfer weight into left foot, then push through left foot and leap out to the right, landing gently on right leg with left foot swinging behind. Arms can swing naturally.

      B. Swiftly propel off right foot to jump to the left, landing softly on left leg with right foot swinging behind left leg.

      Keep alternating for 30 seconds.

      Individual-Leg RDL

      Continue for 45 seconds. Swap sides; repeat.

      Lateral Leg Lift While Lying on Side

      A. Recline on the left side of the body on the ground with legs elongated and allow hand supporting head up, elbow resting on the ground. Pull right knee towards the chest and place it on the ground in front of the hip.

      B. With the left foot bent, raise it two to three inches towards the sky. Pause at the peak, then lower the foot back to the initial position.

      Continue for 45 seconds. Then, grasp the left leg at the peak and pulse for 45 seconds. Swap sides; repeat.

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