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It is so easy to find creative ways to work out your lower body in calisthenics. Having no equipment is no problem, and the simplicity of it all will still give you great results. Check out the following suggestions for some leg workouts without equipment. You will be sore, but you will NOT be sorry!
Always remember: consistency is KEY. You want big, strong legs? Then you need to match the number of weekly lower body workouts with how many upper body workouts. And with calisthenics, I won’t pretend that it can be tougher since there are no weights involved. But doing leg workouts without equipment will definitely get you the results you want, as long as you are consistent. And, you can always add a weighted vest or belt to these workouts, which will help with hypertrophy.
1. 500 Bodyweight Squats: Simple, Effective, and Challenging
- 50 Bodyweight Squats with no rest between reps.
- Rest for one full minute
- Repeat x10
Major kudos to Old School Calisthenics for this idea.
I love this workout for its simplicity and because it definitely works. Some may get a bit bored of it after a few months. You are literally doing the same motion over and over again, hundreds of times. Give yourself about an hour to complete this one.
I personally only do this once every few weeks. It can be taxing on your knees even with a yoga mat, and it tires me out beyond belief. My legs are very sore for a couple days after.
To focus on burning calories: Faster reps with short pauses at the top and bottom of each squat.
To focus on building muscle: Slower reps, with 1 full second of pause (at least) at the bottom of each squat.
2. Explosive Leg Strength Workout (5 Moves, 3-5 Sets)
- 30 Jump Squats – Jump as high as you can, and when you land, do a full squat. 30-second rest.
- 20 Jump Lunges – Jump as high as you can, alternate legs with each jump, and do a full lunge when you land. 30-second rest
- 20 Burpees (see sequence below). 30-second rest.
- 15 Jumps to Higher Platform. 30-second rest.
- 50 Jumping Jacks. 90-second rest
Explosive leg workouts without equipment are probably better for your joints since the impact with each rep is reduced to just your bodyweight. In fact, I advice against using weights anyway with explosive leg workouts because the risk for long-term injury is so much higher. Anyway, I strongly suggest doing all of these on a yoga mat, aside from the jumps to hire platforms. I don’t usually wear shoes when I work out, but with all the impact of explosive leg workouts, it is probably a good idea to soften the blows.
Explosive leg workouts won’t build the muscles as much, but explosive strength is still important and you will still be winded and sore when you’re finished. These moves are also great for those of you who want to lose weight.
3. Skills Training Leg Workout (5 Moves, 3-5 Sets)
Do you want to achieve the pistol squat? This workout is a good starting point for building the necessary strength for such a difficult calisthenics move. I am able to do one, MAYBE two pistol squats as of this writing, so all of these moves are part of my regular skill progression training. This workout will take a bit longer since you only do one leg at a time – give yourself at least an hour, minimum, to complete.
- 30 Close Squats (Feet Close Together). Do these slowly with a 2-second hold at the bottom. 1-minute rest.
- 15 Seated Uneven Squats – Sit on a sturdy chair or platform. Stretch one leg out so your heel is resting on the floor, and bend your other knee so it is fully on the floor. Push up with the bent leg, like a squat, and slowly bring yourself back to the seated position. You’ll do these 15 reps for each leg. As you build strength, you should use progressively lower seats for this move to increase the resistance. 1-minute rest.
- Hold Until Failure – L-Hang/Hold. Keep your legs straight! You need this static hip flexor strength if you want to pull of the pistol squat. If you don’t have a pull-up bar or dip bars: hold a V-Sit on the floor or the edge of a step, chair, or bed until failure. You can place your hands behind you for support. 1-minute rest.
- 20 Bulgarian Squats. Do these slowly with a 2-second hold at the bottom. 1-minute rest.
- 15 Walking Lunges (per leg). Do these slowly with a 2-second hold at the bottom. 90-second rest.
4. Hit All Areas of the Legs (8 Moves, 2-3 Sets)
I created this one to keep things exciting. Doing these types of leg workouts without equipment offers unique challenges because every next move “tricks” your lower body. This one is tougher than it looks, and it takes a while! Expect at least 60 minutes, possibly more depending on how many sets you do.
- 30 Bodyweight Squats. 60-second rest.
- 15 Lunges per Leg. 60-second rest.
- Until Failure – Calf Raises on Platform. 60-second rest.
- 25 Sliding Hamstring Curls. This is easiest on hard floors while wearing socks, as shown. 60-second rest.
- 10-30 Leg Lifts. Number of reps varies depending on if you have certain equipment.
- Hanging Leg Raise with Pull-Up Bar (Toughest): 10-15 reps.
- Leg Raise on Dip Bars (Tougher): 15-20 reps.
- Leg Raise on Higher Platform (Tough): 25-30 reps.
- Leg Raise on Floor (Pretty Tough): 30 reps. 60-second rest.
- 10 Side Plank Leg Lifts. This is a popular pilates move. It’s not easy! 60-second rest.
- 15 Side Lunges. Instead of lunging forward, lunge to the side. Your extended leg should be resting on its heel. 60-second rest.
- 40 Mountain Climbers. End the set with intense cardio! 90-second rest.
Get creative with your lower body calisthenics.
Don’t plateau or become bored with your lower body calisthenic workouts. These are just a few of my own ideas (plus OSC’s 500-Squat) for leg workouts without equipment that are both challenging and exciting. Feel free to use them yourself, or tweak them in your own ways to fit your needs and goals. And remember to stretch!
Do you do any of your own leg workouts without equipment? Leave a comment below!