Amazing Lower Body Home Workouts you Can Do Now

October 31, 2016

Welcome to the Shot of Adrenaline Lower Body Home Workout! What follows is a fun, 100% calisthenics challenge for everyone’s second-favorite half of the body to exercise.

What do we mean by that? Well, if you weren’t aware, there’s a portion of the fitness community that is in need of help. Good people all around the world are working hard to get the chest, abs and arms of their dreams. But there’s a big problem with that: for all their good work, they’re completely neglecting everything from the waist down.

That’s right… they’re skipping leg day.

Maybe you know someone ignoring the development of the lower body. Maybe you occasionally do it yourself. Either way, it’s time to stop the hiding and name-calling. It’s time to come together with a solution. And that’s what we have for you today!

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the very best bodyweight exercises for the lower body. We’ll show you why they’re so great and how exactly to do them. Then, we’re going to offer you a few different ways to implement them in a workout. Hey, we all have different styles and preferences when it comes to exercising, so you can implement them whichever way you want.

leg-exercises

Why Bodyweight Exercises

As readers of this site probably know, we’re big proponents of calisthenics and bodyweight exercises. In fact, our entire company is dedicated to the idea that the best workout isn’t gained with fancy gym equipment or heavy weights. We believe that one’s own body is the key to a solid, ripped physique and true strength.

That said, we understand that not everyone agrees with us. Many people think that bodyweight exercises are impractical for lower body workouts. Now, to be fair, there is some truth to that. As we’ve said before, if you wish to get huge legs like that of a football player or bodybuilder, calisthenics will probably not be able to help you.

But that doesn’t mean bodyweight training for your lower body is useless… far from it! You can still build strength, burn away fat and have toned, chiseled legs that are going to build your confidence and make it clear to everyone that you never skip leg day.

And the truth is, in terms of your overall health and wellbeing, bodyweight training is far safer. Simply put, when you’re doing leg training with weights, you’re putting yourself in very vulnerable positions, and often with a dangerous amount of weight.

We won’t share any here, but there are plenty of examples of gruesome injuries that take place while someone is squatting or leg pressing with an abundance of weight.

Now, that’s not to say that all weight training is dangerous. It also would be unfair to imply that no one ever suffered an injury doing calisthenics. After all, athletes at any level are constantly susceptible to injury, even when doing seemingly everything correctly. Our bodies can be very fragile sometimes.

What we are saying instead is that there is much less inherent risk with a calisthenics-based exercise, as it’s just your own weight. Even doing a weighted squat or using a leg press machine safely and correctly can cause joint pain down the road, due to the excessive weight you’re using. Knees are especially at risk here.

So again, while calisthenics may not get your the barrel-sized thighs you see on your favorite linebacker, it is definitely our preferred method for getting a cut, strong lower body.

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The Exercises

Bodyweight Squat

Primary muscles worked: quadriceps

Secondary muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, abdominals

How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward. Slowly lower your body by bringing your hips back as if you were going to sit in a chair (some people say “drop your butt”). This is very important because this is where most people make their mistake when performing a squat. Don’t just drop your body in a slight crouch; that won’t help you at all.

When you are at your low-point for your squat, your knees should not go past your feet. Now, this isn’t written in stone as it may be difficult for long-legged or exceptionally tall people, but you should still make an effort to keep your knees from lunging forward in the squat. Also, your back will be angled forward slightly, but it should not be bent at all. Your back should be straight and parallel to your shins.

When bringing your body back to the starting point, thrust your hips forward in a kind of “swinging” motion.

For an extra challenge, you can add a 1-second pause when you reach the low-point of the squat before raising back up. Or you can explode through your heels for a jump squat, if you wanted to add some plyometrics to your workout.

Forward lunge

Primary muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps

Secondary muscles worked: calves, abdominals

How to do it: Step forward with one foot and lower your hips until your thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee almost touches the ground. Again, you don’t want your knees going too far forward.

With your weight on your front foot, bring your body back to the starting position. Perform the same action with your legs switched.

For an extra challenge, you can rest your back leg on an elevated surface (usually 1’-2’ off the ground). This will allow for an extended range of motion and a tougher exercise.

Calf raise against wall

Primary muscles worked: calves

Secondary muscles worked: thighs, glutes

How to do it: Place your hands on a wall or sturdy surface. Your hands should be no higher than eye-level. Lean on the wall with your feet straight back behind you. Pick one foot off the floor. With the foot still on the floor, pick your heel up so that your weight is resting on the front of one foot.

Your body should be completely straight. To make sure of this, tighten your glutes and your core. Make sure, however, that your knees have a very slight bend. Now, with your hands still on the wall and one foot on the floor, raise your heel up so that it drives your entire body upward.

Repeat with the other leg when finished with the first one.

For an extra challenge, the more parallel your body is to the floor, the tougher the exercise will get. You should still make sure your hands don’t go higher than eye-level, though.

Side lunges

Primary muscles worked: abductors/adductors, glutes, quadriceps

Secondary muscles worked: hamstrings, calves

How to do it: Begin standing with your feet together. Step laterally with one leg (out to your side) as far as it can go without moving your other foot. Plant your moving foot on the floor, then drop just as you would for a forward lunge.

Again, it’s important to keep your core engaged in order to stabilize your body during the movement. You do not want to lean forward, and your back should stay straight.

When in full lunge position, plant hard off your extended leg to drive your body back to the starting position. Repeat for the same side.

For an extra challenge, when driving your extended leg back to starting position, instead of immediately putting your foot back on the floor, bring your knee up to your chest, then back to the floor.

Wall sit

Primary muscles worked: quadriceps, glutes, calves

Secondary muscles worked: hamstrings

How to do it: Place your back firmly against a wall or another solid, flat surface. Slowly lower your hips until both of your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your legs should be bent close to a 90-degree angle, so your feet should not be out too far.

This is an isometric hold, meaning you are to remain static for the duration of the exercise. Keep your hands away from your legs, as that may tempt you to use your arms to take some of the pressure off your legs. Keep your back flat against the wall.

For an extra challenge, you could get twenty or so buddies and have your coach walk across your laps while you hold 45-pound weights. But since we don’t really advocate any part of that sentence, just keep trying to increase the time you can hold the wall sit position.

3-point elevated calf raise

Primary muscles worked: calves

Secondary muscles worked: quadriceps

How to do it: This exercise takes place in three different phases. You will move from one phase to the other with no rest. In order to do the exercise, you’ll need to stand on an elevated surface (a step, for example) with your heels hanging off. You can hold onto something with your hand(s) for balance.

For the first phase, your toes will be pointed straight forward. Like calf raises against a wall, you should have a very slight bend in your knees. Lower your heels below your toes, then with your weight on your toes, drive your heels up.

For the next phase, you’ll do the same thing, only your toes will be pointed inward, and you will rest your weight on the inside front of your feet (near your big toe). Hold your weight here and drive your heels upward.

For the third phase, point your toes outward and rest your weight on the outside of your feet (near your pinky toe). Drive your heels upward with your weight on the outside front of your feet.

For an extra challenge, try doing all three phases without holding on to anything. This will dramatically improve your balance and give you a tougher exercise.

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Workout Variations

Like we said, there are a lot of different ways you can use these exercises. And a lot of it depends on your preference. So with that in mind, take a look at the workout options we’ve put together for you for your at home workout.

Take a look, see which ones catch your fancy, and don’t be afraid to try them all! No matter which you prefer, all of these are an excellent way to workout your lower body.

Option #1: Straight sets

Perform each of these exercises in three consecutive sets before moving on to the next exercise. Here is our recommended number of reps for each exercise:

  • Bodyweight squats: 3 sets of 10
  • Forward lunge: 3 sets of 6/leg
  • Calf raise against wall: 3 sets of 12/leg
  • Side lunge: 3 sets of 6/leg
  • Wall sit: 3 sets of 30 seconds
  • 3-point elevated calf raise: 3 sets of 10/position

Option #2: Circuit training

Similar to working in “straight sets,” only here you’ll be moving from one exercise to the next after you complete one set of each exercise. That means you’ll be moving in a “circuit” three times.

So for example, you will start with one set of ten bodyweight squats, then move to forward lunges, doing six per leg. Then you will move on to the calf raises against a wall for 12 per leg, and so on.

When you complete one set of all six exercises, that’s one “circuit.” Repeat two more times.

Option #3: Pyramid

A “pyramid” style exercise is sure to push you to your limits. Basically, you’ll be starting at the bottom of a pyramid and moving up. And of course, pyramids are much larger at the bottom, and get progressively smaller at the top. The same principles apply to what we’re doing here: you’ll start with a high number of reps, then move down to a smaller number (of course, by the time you get to the smaller numbers, you should be pretty exhausted by then!)

Perform each exercise to completion before moving on to another exercise, just like with “straight sets.”

  • Bodyweight squats: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Forward lunge: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (per leg)
  • Calf raise against wall: 10, 9, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 (per leg)
  • Side lunge: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, (per leg)
  • Wall sit (in seconds): 45, 30, 20, 10
  • 3-point elevated calf raise: 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 (per position)

Option #4: Tabata

If you’re unfamiliar with Tabata workouts, get ready to sweat!

Tabata is a type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where a person will complete 8 rounds of various exercises in a 20/10 format for one complete circuit.

This means a person will work for 20 seconds, pushing themselves as hard as they can. Then the person will rest for 10 seconds before repeating. You’re not working to reach a certain number of reps; you’re just pushing as hard as you can the entire 20 seconds.

Now, you may have figured out that with this the Tabata format, you can’t do all the exercises at great length like the other options. However, Tabata has been shown to be a more effective form of exercise than traditional workouts. The reason is because you’re pushing your body to the limit and, with only 10 seconds rest between sets, you’re going to be using your muscles when they’re most fatigued, resulting in more growth, tone and strength.

As far as which exercises to choose and how many times you do them, that’s really up to you! You can choose two exercises to do 4 times each (remember, Tabata is 8 total rounds), or you can do 4 exercises twice, or one exercise all 8 rounds… You’re the boss!

Here are a few examples of how you can use Tabata for your lower body home workout:

[Remember: no matter which format you choose, you’ll do each exercise as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then move on to the next exercise.]

Tabata #1

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Calf raises against wall
  • Forward lunge (alternating legs)
  • Wall sit
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Calf raises against wall
  • Forward lunge (alternating legs)
  • Wall sit

Tabata #2

  • Forward lunge
  • 3- Point elevated calf raise (toes forward)
  • Forward lunge
  • 3-point elevated calf raise (toes inward)
  • Forward lunge
  • 3-point elevated calf raise (toes outward)
  • Forward lunge
  • Calf raise against wall

Tabata #3

  • Side lunge
  • Wall sit
  • Calf raise against wall
  • Bodyweight squat
  • Side lunge
  • Wall sit
  • Calf raise against wall
  • Bodyweight squat

Again, you can mix and match to your desire. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to be sore afterward!

Option #5: Quick draw!

Now, this one takes a couple minutes of preparation, but it’s definitely one of the most fun ways to exercise. We recommend doing this with a friend or group because it’s even more fun with others.

Write each exercise 3 times on separate pieces of paper. Fold them up and drop them in a hat. Then, pick out one at a time and perform the exercise written on the paper.

You may find yourself finishing a set of bodyweight squats and hoping to draw the calf raises so you get a break from working the quadriceps so hard, only to pull another set of squats… so choose wisely!

Perform the same number of reps as you would in with the “straight sets” or “circuit” options:

  • Bodyweight squats: 10
  • Forward lunge: 6/leg
  • Calf raise against wall: 12/leg
  • Side lunge: 6/leg
  • Wall sit: 30 seconds
  • 3-point elevated calf raise: 10/position

If that’s too easy or too difficult, feel free to adjust your number of reps. Good luck!

If you’ve got any other ideas for a great lower body home workout, let us know in the comments!

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