Leg Training Without Weights

Can we get legs of steel without weights

It is a fact that some of you have heard one of the claims that it’s impossible to build powerful and aesthetically pleasing looking legs without throwing half a ton on the leg press machine or squatting 200kg .

Well never mind what that type of continual pounding does to the knees. In fact ask anyone who has power lifted or follow exclusively heavy bodybuilding leg routines for over ten years if you don’t believe me.

I guarantee many of those lifters mention a knee surgery or two. The great news is that legs respond exceptionally well to high rep training Bodyweight methods.

Size, strength, endurance and shapeliness are all within reach doing the following bodyweight exercises alone.

Lets Look at a Few Leg Exercises used in Bodyweight training

 

Bodyweight Squat.

The foundation of your Bodyweight leg training routine.

Lock your fingers behind your head and drop glutes to the floor. Explode up. Repeat. Or simply place the right hand on the left shoulder and the left on the right in the example below. – Be sure to do yours at a pace you can manage. (probably not as slow as the video)

These are also often called prisoner squats for their popularity behind bars these will build true explosive leg power, flexibility and endurance too.

Aim for a few hundred a session. Some Bodyweight members use these as his full cardio workout and twenty to thirty minutes of Bodyweight Squats a day has left him ripped to the bone!  Easier than spending hundreds of dollars in a gym.

 

Bodyweight Lunges.

Lunge forward with one leg going as low as possible. Keeping the knee of your rear leg  close to touching the floor.

Step back to your original standing position and repeat with opposite leg. A good secondary movement to the Bodyweight Squat that can strengthen your glutes and cut up your quads even further. 

 

 

Bodyweight Side Lunges

It needs to be stated that the side lunge is a very effective lower body exercise that tones  and strengthens your quads, glutes and hamstrings.

At the same time  targeting both the inner and outer thighs. By moving in a side-to-side motion rather than the traditional lunge motion of forward and back, you are able to recruit your thigh muscles and at the same time improve both your balance and stability.

The Side Lunge is a great exercise to add to your bodyweight workouts to tone your lower body, improve your balance, and get leaner legs.

How To Do Side Lunges

Start by standing with legs slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and toes pointed forward.

Shift your body weight to one leg bending the knee until it reaches a 90-degree angle and the other leg is straight.

Glutes are pressing back behind you. Return to center and switch sides.

 

 

 

Benefits Of Side Lunges

There are many reasons you should incorporate side lunges into your workouts. Here are just a few:

Work Your Outer Thighs

There are so many leg exercises available including dozens of different types of squats and just as many lunges. Side lunges are unique in the way they tone and shape your outer thighs, or abductors. Many people become frustrated with their outer thighs when it seems nothing works to eliminate those extra pockets of fat, or “saddlebags.” Side lunges will help decrease the appearance of saddlebags because they activate those outer thigh muscles directly.

Work Your Glutes

Although you are lunging sideways, the weight of your body is sitting back into your glutes. Side lunges help tone and shape your booty and give you a nice, strong and shapely backside. No saggy, flat butts here!

Improve Your Overall Balance And Stability

Since you are moving your body in a side-to-side motion rather than the traditional forward and back, you add muscle balance around the hip and knee joints, which helps you prevent possible future injuries. In addition to preventing future injuries, this is a back friendly exercise because this lower body workout requires you to keep your back straight and your chest lifted.

Toe Raises and heel drop

Stand on stairs or box – Note that this can be done using both legs or one leg depending on the strength of your calf muscles, and your awhiles tendons. ( It is often said that we should do more of this exercise on the week leg than the strong ) .

Main point is to keep the toe portion of the foot on the step or box and from the centre back hanging over the edge.

       Single Leg Calf Raise

    single leg raises for bodyweight training

Raise up on tip of your toes engaging your calf muscle. Drop down as far as possible with the heel lower than the box/step, ( This stretches both the calves and the achilles) . Repeat. When finished switch legs and do the same amount of reps. Excellent calf and achilles builder when couple with toe point variations:

Varying the position of the toe tends to engage the internet and external muscles of the calf. So try this by pointing the toe out for a set and then inwards for a set. Gauge the difference and the benefit.

           Double Leg Calf Raise

double leg raises for bodyweight training

 

Jumping Jacks.

I am sure that you will remember these as a kid ? Use jumping jacks as both a leg builder and cardio tool.Rather than completing a specific number of reps, set an alarm clock for a certain time and try to beat it at each session.( 40 in 60 seconds or more)

Don’t be surprised when your body fat quickly melts away as your lower body gets more toned and stronger.

 

Those old gym teachers in physical education class seem to have had much more actionable knowledge than they often are given credit for… they always had you doing Jumping Jacks for PE Right! further proof that in the field of strength and conditioning newer is not always better.

 

Lets Look at the add on bodyweight exercises 

Consider these variations as time goes on to improve both your legs and to assist in specifically improving the weaker leg. ( we all have one)

Single leg Squats – floor and raise platform

Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and placed hip-width apart. Lift your chest, tuck in your chin and place your hands on your hips. Contract your glutes and balance on one leg as you lift the other leg directly beside the balance leg. Squat as if sitting into a chair, keeping your knees in line with your toes and hold the bottom position for a few seconds. Slowly return to the starting position.

 

Now lets look at a raised box Single leg squat

We can use a step, a bench in the local park , a wooden box ( more exercises for the box later including dips etc)