Best Bodyweight Leg and Hip Workouts at Home

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If you’re not excited about working out your legs, you should be! Lower body workouts are essential to being able to do everyday activities. “Your lower body strength simply allows you to live your life,” says personal trainer Kristina Earnest, CPT. Something as simple as picking something up off the ground requires strength and stabilization from your legs.

The best leg workouts will work all of the angles to give you the best results. The two halves of your leg workout should include the anterior and posterior chains. The anterior chain includes your quadriceps, adductors, hip stabilizers, and the front of your calves. Meanwhile, the posterior chain will work your hamstrings, glutes, back of your calves, abductors, and additional hip stabilizers.

This text is discussing the benefits of leg workouts. Leg workouts not only help to tone the leg muscles, but also engage other muscles in the process. For example, when you do a squat, you are also working your glutes, quads, and core. This type of workout is more effective because it combines strength and cardiovascular movements.

Common Questions About Leg Workouts

  • How many sets and reps should you do in your leg workout? Your reps, sets, and even rest times vary based on your fitness goals, per Earnest. If your goal is building strength and power, do 2-5 reps and 2-5 sets. If your goal is building specifically in size, aim for 6-12 reps and 3-5 sets. If your goal is muscular endurance and cardiovascular health, increase to 12+ reps, with 2-3 sets.
  • How many times per week should you work legs? When you’re starting out, Earnest says two sessions per week is a good target. As you progress, you can train your legs two to four times each week on non-consecutive days. Leg days help you build/maintain strength, but training them too frequently can be counterproductive, she adds.
  • How should you warm up for leg workouts? Warm up moves are critical for a good training session. Warming up your lower body loosens the joints and increases blood flow to your muscles. Not only does this help you perform better, but it will also aid in injury prevention.
  • How should you cool down properly? For your cool down, it is important to allow your body to gradually recover to return your heart rate and blood pressure back to its pre-exercise level. It also helps regulate your blood flow, which aids in proper recovery and helps lower the presence of muscle soreness.” Some of her suggested warm ups include jumping jacks, good mornings, and glute bridges.
  • What is the most effective leg exercise? Look for multijointed, or compound exercises, Earnest says. These work a few different muscles at once to efficiently build muscle strength and size. Hip thrusts, dumbbell step-ups, and Romanian deadlifts are some of her faves.

BENEFITS OF LOWER BODY WORKOUTS

We want to explain the benefits of working out your legs before we get into the workout itself.

Compound exercises for the lower body, such as lunges and deadlifts, tend to be tiring, but they’re worth it because they lead to strong, toned legs. Exercises like deadlifts work not just the hamstrings and glutes, but also the quads, core, and back.

Here are more benefits of at-home leg workouts:

  • Can be done with little or no equipment– You can do a variety of workouts like bodyweight exercises, dumbbell only, and resistance band workouts! Plus, less equipment means fewer chances of getting injured.
  • Strengthen the biggest muscles in the body– Lower body workouts target various leg muscles, but they can also target your upper body and core! 
  • Can help reduce knee pain– According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, strong leg muscles can help alleviate knee pain. The study they conducted demonstrated that women who incorporated hip-strengthening exercises had less knee pain than the group that only incorporated knee strengthening exercises. [1]
  • No excuses – It’s easy to have an excuse to skip the gym, it’s harder when all you have to do is get off the couch! That’s the beauty of home workouts, just put on your favorite gym clothes and start squatting!

DUMBBELL ONLY LEG WORKOUT 

Iulia suggests picking a weight for each exercise that fits your fitness level, but is also a little challenging. Depending on the weight you use, perform 4 sets of 8-12 reps. When using a lighter weight, perform more reps. When using a heavier weight, perform fewer reps. Remember to rest for at least 30 seconds between each exercise!

Don’t forget to stretch and warm up your muscles for 5-10 minutes!

Iulia suggests stretching both statically and dynamically. An example of this would be to stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps. Hold each position for 30 seconds before doing a dynamic warm-up like high knees, glute bridges, and leg raises to really prepare your muscles!

After your muscles are warmed up, get your resistance bands and dumbbells to start the workout with two exercises to target the glutes.

GLUTE BRIDGE WITH RESISTANCE BAND

  1. Lie faceup on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. 
  2. Place the resistance band above the knee.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. 
  4. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in, so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise.
  5. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
  6. Do 15 reps.

STANDING GLUTE KICKBACK WITH RESISTANCE BAND

  1. Place the resistance band around your ankles,
  2. Lift your leg to the back and pause for two seconds. The tension should be felt in your hips and glutes.
  3. Bring the leg back to the starting position.
  4. Do 15 reps on each leg.

SUMO SQUATS WITH DUMBBELLS

  1. Grab a dumbbell and hold it on the “inside” of the dumbbell.
  2. Place your feet apart about twice your shoulder-width, your toes turned out slightly. 
  3. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.  
  4. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. Keep your torso as upright as you can for the entire movement, with your lower back naturally arched.

ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS

  1. Grasp a couple of dumbbells holding them by your side at arm’s length. 
  2. Stand with your torso straight and your legs spaced using a shoulder-width or narrower stance. The knees should be slightly bent. This is your starting position. 
  3. Keeping the knees stationary, lower the dumbbells to over the top of your feet by bending at the waist while keeping your back straight. Keep moving forward as if you were going to pick something from the floor until you feel a stretch on the hamstrings. 
  4. Start bringing your torso up straight again by extending your hips and waist until you are back at the starting position.

ALTERNATE REVERSE LUNGES

  1. Grab dumbbells in both hands. 
  2. Staying erect, initiate the movement by stepping back with one foot about 2 feet. Keep your hips facing forward as the toe of your back foot makes contact first. 
  3. Then allow both knees to bend and descend just short of allowing your trailing knee to touch the floor. Your body should continue to be upright. Don’t lean forward or allow you back to round. 
  4. Press back up by pushing through your back foot, maintaining balance as you return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hips Workout

If you follow the secrets for a successful leg day that were outlined in the previous text, you can make your next lower body workout a great one with these 32 exercises. Trust that you will love leg day after following these tips!

Hip Circles

How to: Support your weight on your elbows and knees. Keep your shoulders over the elbows and hips over the knees, then make circles in the air with one knee, moving from the hip. Draw the circle as wide as possible while keeping the torso stable. Continue moving the right knee in circles for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

The best part about this move is that it not only works your glutes, but also helps you maintain mobility in your hips.

Jump Rope

To do this move, you don’t need a jump rope. All you need to do is a series of continuous small jumps in place, vertically or laterally, moving your arms as if you’re swinging a rope underneath you with each burst.

This move is great for your legs and heart.

Skaters

Skaters are a great way to improve your cardio if you’re a runner, according to Earnest. This exercise helps improve leg and knee strength, as well as your stability and balance. To do a skater, stand with your feet hip-width apart and then jump to the side with one leg, landing on the other. You should look like you’re skating when you do this.

The move helps runners stay quick and agile while also strengthening knee stability, which is why it is beneficial.

Side Laying Plank

Keep your forearm and the side of your foot in contact with the mat throughout the exercise. To do this exercise, lie on your side with your legs on top of each other and your forearm on the floor. Put your elbow below your shoulder and keep your forearm parallel to the mat. Use your elbow to push off and engage your core, glutes, and legs to lift your body weight off the mat. Keep your forearm and the side of your foot in contact with the mat the whole time.

This exercise is a great way to engage your core muscles while also working your glutes, quads, and lower legs.

Mini Band Clamshells

To do this exercise, lie on your right side with your knees bent. Place a mini resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. Place your left hand on your left hip and form a 90-degree angle with your right arm to prop yourself up and remain stable. Working against the band, squeeze your glutes and thigh muscles to press your left thigh up as far as possible. Then slowly bring your left thigh back to the starting position. This is one rep.

This exercise is effective for targeting the outer glutes and also serves as a good activation exercise for other, more compound exercises.

Stability Ball Hip Thrust

To start, put your arms behind your head and your elbows wide. Press your upper back into a stability ball, and bend your legs so your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your hips hovering above the mat. Lean back into the stability ball and lift your hips toward the ceiling until your thighs are parallel to the mat. Return to the start position. That’s one rep.

This exercise is great because it not only works your glutes, but also requires you to engage your core muscles.

 Broad Jump

Bend at your glutes and hips, then jump forward in a controlled movement. Land on your feet, maintaining a soft bend through your knees.

Doing broad jump regularly will gradually increase your jumping distance and also strengthen your thigh and buttocks muscles so you can move faster.

 Banded Literal Work

Try this mini resistance band workout: 1. Place a mini resistance band a few inches above your ankles. 2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. 3. Maintain a tight core as you step your left foot out to the side, followed by your right. That’s one rep.

The move warms up your glutes and hits your often-overlooked glute medius muscles, which is great.

 

You should feel a burning sensation after completing this lower body workout. Keep going!