Five Calisthenics Leg Exercises for Building Strength and Muscle by Xero Hero Al Kavadlo

For most sports, leg strength can give you, well, a leg up on the competition. Even if you’re not an athlete, though, leg strength is important for health and wellness.

If you like to exercise but you aren’t a gym person, you might think that running, cycling or hiking are your only options for a decent leg workout. But there is so much more you can do to strengthen your lower body without lifting weights or using machines. Here are 5 of my favorite equipment-free leg exercises.

1. Bodyweight Squat

This is the most fundamental strength building exercise for the legs. The classic bodyweight squat hits all the muscles of your lower body, and may be a mobility challenge for some folks as well.

To perform a bodyweight squat, start with your feet hip distance apart, then reach your arms forward, bend your knees and sit back into your heels. When your hips get below knee height, return to a standing position and repeat.

Working your way up to 40-50 consecutive bodyweight squats will set you up with a fantastic foundation to progress your lower body strength training.

2. Walking Lunge

The walking lunge requires a bit more body awareness than the standard squat. It also introduces a balance component, and is a great way to hit your leg muscles from different angles. Walking lunges are the perfect complement to bodyweight squats.

Stand with your feet together, then take a big step forward and lower your back knee toward the ground, stopping just before it touches. Step forward and stand back up, alternating legs with each rep.

3. Archer Squat

This asymmetrical squat variation is a beautiful merger of strength, flexibility, balance and control. It’s also a great way to target your inner thighs and can be an early lead-up step toward one-legged squats.

Begin with a wide stance, then keep one leg straight as you squat all the way down on the opposite leg. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.

4. One Leg Box Squat

Stand facing away from a box, bench or other object that’s around knee height, then lift one leg into the air. Carefully sit back onto the box, then stand back up without your extended foot touching the floor. It’s common for beginners to lose their balance at the bottom. As such, the box can provide safety and stability as you build the strength and control to perform a freestanding, unassisted one leg squat.

5. Hover Lunge

You can think of this almost like a lunge where your rear foot remains hovering in the air. You’ll need to lean forward a bit more than in a standard lunge in order to stay balanced while on one leg. Reaching both arms forward helps with the balance as well. Be careful to lower yourself down with control – especially during those last few inches – in order to avoid any impact on your rear knee.

Check out the video below and give them a shot in your next workout and let me know how it goes!

Al Kavadlo

Al Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics. He’s also the author of several books, including the Amazon bestsellers Get Strong and Street Workout.

The content of this post does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have about your health or a medical condition.