All those 'never-skip-leg day' memes on social media have some bearing: there's NO EXCUSE to skip leg day. If you're finding you're short on time, space, and equipment- no worries! I'm here to show you 5 ways you can target your legs and glutes using body weight (though it's optional) with very little-to-no equipment. You may perform each exercise separately in sets, or each exercise subsequently after the other as a circuit. Let's get started!
If you want to ramp up your workout, click here to get your wall ball.
1) Lunge Jumps
This is a cardio-based move requiring only body weight. It can be used on it's own in a workout or paired with (super-setted) another exercise. This fat-burning, muscle-building move targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Start in 'lunge' position: one foot forward with knee bent to 90 degrees, ensuring your knee doesn't go over your front toe; opposite leg is behind you, knee is bent without touching the floor; posture is straight, chest up.
Pushing your weight primarily through the heel of your front foot and using your back foot as leverage, jump straight up. Switch feet from front to back mid-air.
Land with the opposite foot forward, mirroring the start position. Repeat 20-30 times, or 10-15 repetitions each leg. Increase the intensity by increasing the speed of your lunges, and perform in timed increments or until failure.
2) Lateral Squat
This move can either be used with free weights or with body weight. You can also choose to use this exercise on it's own or in a circuit by pairing it with another exercise. This form of squat hits adductors of your hips (aka the 'saddle-bag' area ;) ), the outer region of your glutes and quads, and also hamstrings.
Start in squat position: feet are shoulder/hip width apart, toes slightly turned out, legs bent at 90 degrees or just below parallel, as if you're to sit in a low chair; Chest is up, back is straight.
Push your weight up through your heels while maintaining upright posture. Once standing, bring feet together. Extend either leg out laterally to the side, while other foot stays planted. Squat down into start position; repeat movement on other side.
To increase the intensity of this move: increase the speed/rate of the movement while maintaining form, performing until failure or; add free weights such as dumbbells or a t-bar/body bar.
3) Jump Squats
This is another cardio based move: one of my favourites to use in a circuit, paired with another exercise (if I am resistance training). It really boosts the heart rate while targeting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Start in squat position as shown. Pushing your weight equally through both heels, with posture upright, jump straight up, landing with feet together; knees stay slightly bent without locking out, toes pointed slightly outward.
With weight evenly distributed, quickly jump upright extending both feet outward- wider than hip width. Land in squat position: feet pointed outward, knees bent to 90 degrees, posture straight, chest is up. Repeat.
To increase the intensity of this move, increase the speed of the movement and repeat until failure. When pairing (super-setting) this move, I will often repeat this movement in timed increments (ex. jump squats for 60 seconds).
4) Mountain Climbers
This is a cardio booster that is great to use in a circuit, or at the end of a workout to really 'burn out' those legs. This move also targets your core, particularly your lower abs.
Start on all fours, in 'push-up' position: arms extended; hands shoulder-width apart; legs extended back with weight on toes; core is engaged; back is straight. Drive either knee up towards your chest, keeping the opposite foot on the floor, while maintaining a tight midsection, arms stay extended. Put foot back in start position; repeat on opposite leg. Try to keep your back straight throughout movement.
This move is meant to be performed quickly, while maintaining form. You can either perform this in timed repetitions (ex. 40 mountain climbers- 20/leg) or in timed increments (ex. 60 seconds of mountain climbers).
5) One-legged Glute Bridges- Using Wall Ball
This is an advanced move that is challenging even when only using body weight. By balancing unilaterally on the Wall Ball, this version of the glute bridge works the glutes and hamstrings, as well as your core.
Start by laying your back down on to the floor, arms extended on either side of your hips to maintain balance. Place the Wall Ball under either leg, placing the heel of one foot in the centre (on top of) the ball; opposite leg is extended and raised.
Putting the emphasis of the weight on the heel of your foot on the ball, thrust upward while engaging your core; opposite leg remains extended. Ensure your arms do not move, maintaining your balance. Once you have reached the peak of your 'squeeze', lower your body back to start position. Repeat.
I often use this move within a circuit or pair it with another exercise when resistance training, about 10-12 repetitions each leg. To increase the intensity, increase the speed of the movement while maintaining form, or perform until failure.
There are many options to incorporating these exercises into your workouts and circuits. Body weight movements are often some of the most challenging, often requiring core strength and stability. The positive- a challenging workout with no bulky equipment required! Give these all a try- and reap the rewards this spring/summer ;)