Bodyweight leg exercises are ideal for building practical strength.
A strong lower body will boost your athletic performance, prevent injuries, and help you increase your overall fitness.
Strong legs are made up of a variety of primary lower body muscles:
Lifters and athletes alike tend to skip leg day. Unfortunately, that can have some dire consequences.
Friends don’t let friends skip leg day, so we’ve compiled a HUGE list of bodyweight leg exercises.
Regardless of what your fitness goals may be, these bodyweight leg exercises will help you build powerful, balanced leg muscles.
The Best Bodyweight Leg Exercises
Most bodyweight leg exercises are compound exercises involving a variety of leg and core muscles.
Below, we’ve categorized each of the bodyweight leg exercises according to their Primary Muscle engagement.
We don’t feel there is a need to go into detail on how to specifically target your left leg or possibly your right foot, you get the idea.
For example, the squat is listed with the bodyweight quad exercises, but the squat also works the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and core.
Bodyweight Quad Exercises
- One-Legged Squat
- Jump Squat
- Prisoner Squat
- Sumo Squat
- Drop Squat
- Cossack Squat
- Close Squat
- Hindu Squat
- Bulgarian Split-Squat
- Split-Squat Hop
- Pistol Squat
- Wall Pistol Squat
- Shrimp Squat
- Tuck Squat
- Sissy Squat
- Alien Squat
- Bosu Ball Squat
- Wall Sit
- One-Legged Wall Sit
- Jump Lunge
- Side/Lateral Lunge
- Reverse Lunge
- Explosive Lunge
- Knee Jump
- Frog Jump
- Single-Leg Vertical Jump
- Lateral Jump
- Box Jump
- Depth Jump
- Tuck Jump
- Long Jump
- Tornado Jump Lunge
- 180-Degree Spiderman Jump
Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises
Bodyweight Glute & Hip Exercises
- Glute Bridge
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Elevated Glute Bridge
- Glute Bridge March
- Single-Leg Elevated Glute Bridge
- Frog Bridge
- Bear Squat
- Flutter Kick
- Leg Lift
- Kneeling Leg Lift
- Clam Exercise
- Donkey Kick
- Lateral Shuffle
- Fire Hydrant
- Adductor Leg Lift
- Front Leg Raise
- Lying Side-Leg Raise
- Psoas March
- Wall Psoas Hold
- Reverse Active Straight Leg Release
Bodyweight Calf Exercises
Bodyweight Cardio Leg Exercises
Our Favorite Bodyweight Leg Exercises
There are dozens of exercises on that list, but you don’t need to do all of them. In fact, you don’t even need to do half of them!
With the right amount of reps and sets you’ll be amazed at the progression accomplished without weights.
Find the exercises that you’re comfortable with but still challenge you.
Our personal favorites are as follows:
These exercises alone work all the major muscles in the lower body.
Watch the videos, try some different exercises, and see which ones you like the most! Remember: everyone is different!
The Importance of Strong Legs
Our lower body consists of some of the largest muscles found anywhere in the body and for good reason. Not only do we rely on our legs as a form of locomotion but they also assist in various other aspects that affect quality of life.
Now if you’re thinking to yourself ‘I hate running and walking so I don’t need strong legs’ you couldn’t be more mistaken and you’re at risk of making a terrible mistake.
Now that you’re more familiar with the muscles that comprise our lower body let’s take a look at their importance and how they can impact our Daily lives.
Although we refer to these muscles quite simply as our quads, don’t let that mislead you. The Quadriceps are made up of a crucial grouping of four muscles, hence the very appropriate name.
Now we won’t go into detail about each individual portion but it’s worth understanding the muscles function in our daily lives.
These four muscles work together allowing people to straighten the leg from the knee- think of the hinging motion when doing leg raises.
Having healthy quads can vastly improve your experience and performance when joining a long list of recreational activities or sports.
Not to mention that you likely find actions as simple as standing or walking fairly useful. In that case you may want to rethink skipping leg day next time it rolls around in your workout schedule.
So whether its a squat jump, side lunge, or one leg pistol squat, pick your poison and get to work, you wont regret it! At least not in the long run.
Similar to the quads, the Hamstrings are not a singular muscle as many people might think. Falling just short of the quads, our hamstrings consist of a grouping of three muscles.
Although three is less than four don’t let that fool you into thinking they are any less important. To over simplify these muscles act similarly to the quadriceps but allow the knee to hinge in the opposite direction.
Aside from that critical movement they are also responsible for the rotation of our knees as well as the extension of the hip. This means stronger hamstrings equals better knee stability which is paramount to a comfortable, fun, and adventurous lifestyle.
After learning what we have about the quads the need to exercise your hamstrings is apparent. Yet add to this that hamstring injuries are some of the most common leg injuries in sports and recreation and it might give you that extra bit of motivation to work those hammies.
On a side note many of the compound movements used to strengthen the hamstrings also work to increase mobility and flexibility. We know you didn’t need another reason to exercise your hamstrings but a little bonus reward never hurts.
The Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus minimus, and Gluteus medius. They may sound like characters from a gladiator movie, but the analogy isn’t far off given that it’s commonly considered one of the strongest muscles in the body.
The glutes are found in the area of the buttocks and are responsible for hip and thigh movement.
This means that effectively any movement of the lower body incorporates the glutes in some way. Walking,running, climbing, jumping, dancing, simply standing in place, or even sitting down- thank your glutes.
Now you don’t have to have a backside like kim kardashian to notice the benefits of strong glutes. Throw in a few glute bridges and flutter kicks to your workouts if you would like to avoid back pain, knee pain, or see increased power and performance.
The hip muscles don’t quite get the attention they deserve given their importance in all facets of our daily lives.
Anytime your legs move away from the centerline of your body the hip muscles fire up and get to work. Think lateral movement- you may not notice how much you use it on a daily basis but we promise you it’s a lot.
Nearly more important is the foundation they provide. Think of them as an extension of your core. Every single muscle and motion we have named thus far gets its foundation and support from the hips and core.
If that isn’t motivation enough to begin throwing some adductor exercises into your leg workout then we don’t know what is.
Everything we have named so far refers to actions from the knee up but what about the foot and ankle? Enter the calves, the little brother of the lower body muscles but no less important.
While the calf muscles assist in flexing at the knee they are also responsible for the motions in the foot and ankle.
The importance of these motions goes without saying, and the ankle being notoriously prone to injury, should be reason enough to start doing those calf raises.
We could go on to list the movements in which we use our feet and ankles but I think we can all agree there is no need, to keep it simple lets try this- stand with your feet hip width apart… now do literally anything. Make sense?
Bodyweight tactics for the experienced.
The bodyweight 2.0 is the sequel to the reader favorite Bodyweight 1.0. It adds a bit of difficulty, though it can be done by beginners by adjusting loads and reps.
- Skill level: Intermediate
- 4-week program, 4 workouts each week
- Workouts vary in length, up to 45 minutes
- No equipment required, but a yoga or exercise mat, towel, and water bottle are helpful.
- Free Bonus: Intro to Nutrition and Healthy Eating
- Links to videos, detailing each exercise
- Printable PDF workout calendar
So there you have it. The function of each leg muscle and their importance in everything from daily tasks, recreational activities, sports, and quality of life.
AND now you know exactly how to target each without weights. Our epic list of bodyweight exercises is more than enough for you to reap the benefits of a strong lower body and start you down a path that you won’t regret.
Hopefully we have helped to deter you from skipping leg day and who knows, you might even enjoy it next time.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.