Probably the least favorite part of anyone’s workout routine.
And, you know what, whilst I disagree with it, I do understand it.
It’s tough on the body, your fitness, and your mental resilience.
To most of you, it may seem like you can’t see the growth, or your upper body is the most crucial part of a workout.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you start skipping leg day, you, and others, will notice.
Your legs will be underdeveloped compared to your upper body, your testosterone levels will drop, and people will begin to make sly comments like, “Someone’s been skipping leg day”.
Look, I’ve got you panicking now, and that’s not the aim of this blog.
Instead, I want to guide you on how you can build powerful and shredded legs using just your body weight.
Calisthenic exercises can be an effective tool to train not just your arms, or your abs, but your legs as well.
And in this article, I’m going to give you 5 simple exercises you can do to get strong, shredded legs from the comfort of your home.
Let’s get into it.
Why Is Lower Body Strength Important
Your legs are your roots.
They are the foundation for keeping your body balanced and stable and engaging a host of muscle groups to improve your health and athletic prowess.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, with plenty more reasons you shouldn’t be skipping leg day anytime soon…
Enhance Testosterone Levels
Lower-body routines aren’t just vital for building muscle mass in your legs.
Multiple scientific studies have found the number of growth hormones released in the body increases drastically with this type of exercise.
Boosting Testosterone has been proven to increase the protein muscle synthesis in the body, meaning the more of it you have, the more muscle mass will develop throughout your body.
Boosts Athletic Ability
Explosivity. Balance. Speed. Agility.
The list goes on.
All are important factors in your athletic prowess, and all can be improved with a simple lower body routine.
Your lower body is the source of strength in most sports, and exercises that target these muscles will increase the power you produce, and your overall range of motion, ultimately helping you break through tackles in rugby, or drive to the rim in basketball.
We have already established it.
Legs are hard to train.
They require a ton of intensity and volume to increase size and strength, leaving us to put more energy into moving the resistance.
Guess where this energy comes from?
That’s right, lower body workouts are the perfect type of strength training for putting your body into a calorie deficit, resulting in a loss of fat and a shredded physique.
With an intense workout, we are going to be elevating the need for oxygen in our body, and getting our heart pumping quicker and harder.
This may feel negative during the workout but plays a huge part in improving your heart health and reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Reduces Risk Of Injury
Improving the agility and range of motion in your legs, in combination with enhancing your strength, will help your overall movement and the amount of stress they can withstand.
This is great for reducing the risk of injury, as your muscles will get used to being put through that kind of pressure and vigor.
Can You Build Legs With Calisthenics?
Simply put, yes.
As long as you are putting your legs through a constant resistance, with the correct form and progressively overloading, you will begin to see muscle mass development in your legs.
The only slight difficulty with training your legs with just your body weight is the need to spend more time on them.
As your legs are built to withstand a high amount of resistance, you will begin to notice as your strength improves, the exercises get a lot easier.
Therefore, to progressively overload, we will find it difficult to increase the weight we are lifting.
To overload the muscle, you are going to have to multiply the volume of the workout.
Aim to double the reps and sets of each exercise so you are working as close to failure as possible.
Another thing I notice when people train legs for size is the lack of variety in the exercises.
Now, I don’t just mean different exercises to keep things interesting, what I mean is they lack all the components.
Your legs aren’t just one big muscle.
They are multiple muscles, such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and quads, all parts of a potion that you need to care for to make it work.
To make your legs big.
So, if you want fuller, tree-trunk legs, then follow a routine that has every aspect in them, rather than one that just aims to improve your quads or hammies.
The 5 Simple Calisthenics Exercises I Use To Get A Stronger Lower Body
Let’s kick off this routine with a killer.
I’m not going to lie to you, if you’ve never done this exercise before, are a newbie to the gym, or can admit you just have poor balance, then you will need to build up to this exercise using ordinary squats.
If you know you can do pistol squats, then get them into your routine right now.
They are an incredible exercise that develops all muscles in your legs, but more specifically your glutes and hamstrings.
It’s also an incredibly impressive move to show off!
As we are working one leg at a time, we are helping to discover and develop muscle imbalances.
We can target these appropriately to reduce the strength deficit.
Standing on one leg for a prolonged period of time can strain your abdominals, so expect squatting at the same time will build rock-hard abs, improve our balance, and develop our joints for mobility.
How To Do It
- Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your working leg planted, lift the opposite leg off the ground, so it is hovering just a couple of inches above the surface.
- Engage your core and keep your torso upright, slowly begin to bend your knee and lower your hips toward the ground.
- When your elevated leg becomes horizontal, or you get as low as your body will physically allow, hold for a second.
- Drive through the heel of your planted foot to push your body upwards back to the starting position.
- Repeat for as many reps as possible for that leg, then switch.
There’s no doubt about it, your quads and glutes are the main components to getting the beastly size in your legs, and that defined shape makes your whole body look huge.
The side lunges target both of these muscles perfectly, with the side-to-side movement helping to put a strain on your thigh muscles it doesn’t usually experience, ultimately tearing muscle fibers that wouldn’t usually be affected by your everyday life.
Side lunges are a great calisthenic exercise to help with your overall balance, increasing the strength in the stabilizers of the hip joint, and helping your lower body become more agile and flexible.
You can also add to this compound movement, by being more active and crab-walking side to side.
This will up the intensity of the movement, developing your cardiovascular and aerobic ability.
This means we are getting you fitter as well as stronger!
How to Do It
- Start by standing up tall with your legs together.
- Extend your working leg to the side, just further than shoulder width.
- Engage your core and keep your torso upright, and start bending the knee of the leg you just moved.
- Keep lowering your hips until your leading leg is at a 90-degree angle, and your other leg is outstretched to your side.
- Drive-through with the heel of your working leg, to push your body back upwards. When both of your legs are straight, bring them back together.
- Try to alternate between the legs, and reduce the pauses between each movement. Repeat until failure.
Plyometric exercises are so important for sportsmen, and non-sportsmen alike.
It can improve your explosivity and power for many different activities, from climbing a mountain to walking up the stairs.
It is your key to true lower body strength.
Box jumps are not only great for this type of strength, though.
Performing them with the right form can help you develop your size, agility, and balance.
Not only this, but box jumps are one of the most intense exercises on this list, so if you are looking to strengthen your joints, or lose some weight, this is the perfect exercise for you.
There isn’t a singular muscle in the legs this exercise particularly targets, with your abdominal muscles even getting involved.
However, you can probably expect the most growth from this exercise in your quads and hamstrings.
How To Do It
- First and foremost, find an elevated and sturdy surface (DO NOT USE AN EMPTY CARDBOARD BOX).
- Stand in front of the surface, legs shoulder-width apart and torso upright. You should be about a meter away from the box.
- Bend your knees slightly, engage the core and drive through your heels, pushing your body off the ground. Use your arms to swing if needed.
- Aim to land as softly as possible on the elevated surface. Keep yourself as balanced as possible to avoid falling backward.
- Step back down from the box and repeat until failure.
Avoiding training your glutes because you think they are the least important leg muscle is the wrong approach.
Hey, I would even argue they are the complete opposite.
Your glutes are the largest, most powerful muscle group in your body, and they need to be treated as such.
Targeting these muscles will improve your speed and strength in lower body movements, reduce the risk of injury, and add to your overall leg size.
The glutes are important in keeping your body balanced and upright, providing the strength and stability for your hip flexors, being the support you need to stay balanced, and reducing lower back pain.
All I’m trying to say is – Don’t avoid glute bridges because they may not look like the toughest, biggest exercise when they have so many health benefits.
How To Do It
- Find a flat, comfortable surface and lie flat on your back.
- Walk your feet into your body, bending your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle.
- Plant your feet and engage your core. Keep your arms on your chest to avoid pushing with them.
- Drive through your glutes to lift your upper thighs off the ground. Keep as much of your back on the ground as possible.
- Hold this position for a second while tensing your glutes.
- Control your body back to the original position, as slow as possible to increase time under tension.
- Repeat until failure.
You probably forgot about this small, but important muscle in the back of your lower legs.
These pesky muscles are so difficult to develop , and while calf raises are great for slowly building size, a lot of it comes down to genetics.
Saying that you can definitely tone these muscles to help bring out the most in your physique.
Strengthening them is important, too, with it contributing massively to your flexibility, agility, jumping explosiveness, and even your mobility in those bigger leg movements such as squats and lunges.
How To Do It
- Find an elevated surface, the bottom step on your stairs will do.
- Put your toes and forefoot on the edge of the step, you can use your handrail for balance if needed.
- Keep your torso upright, core engaged and legs straight.
- Drive through the part of the foot in contact with the step, until you’re standing on the tip of your toes.
- You should feel the tension in your calves, hold this position for a second.
- Slowly control your body back down to the original position.
- Repeat until failure.
Check out this youtube video I posted where I do 100 calf raises a day for 30 days. But with a twist…
There we have it, 5 simple lower body calisthenic exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home.
These have been selected for their variety, the muscles they target, and effectiveness, each bringing an aspect to the table that develops your strength, size, and agility in a different way, helping you achieve your fitness goals, without the need for a gym membership.
If you want a more comprehensive guide on full-body routines you can perform anywhere you like, feel free to check out my Ebook, “Train Wherever The F*ck You Want” at the low, low price of absolutely nothing!
To wrap up, I would love to hear from you.
What calisthenic exercises do you use on this list?
Are there any lower body bodyweight movements you would add?
Let me know in the comments below.