Best Body Weight Leg Exercises

Best body weight leg exercises.

So you enter the gym, and it is looking a bit more crowded than usual, and to compound the misery there is a line for the squat rack and it’s leg day.

So rather than switch to a different body that day, what if I told you that you could get in a solid leg workout only using your body weight?

Well that is exactly what I am saying, I have compiled a list of the best bodyweight leg exercises you can use at home or the gym.

So let’s begin with the biceps of the legs, the hamstrings.


Glute Ham Raise

If you are in the gym then you may have a glute ham raise machine available, if not then use the knee pads on the lat pull down machine and help yourself on the concentric part of the movement (the coming up element), with the lat pull down bar.

If you are at home then get someone to hold you ankles in place.

So place your feet under pads, then slowly come down while extending the hamstring muscles, and if you are using the lat pull down machine use the bar to stabilize yourself on the eccentric element of the movement.

Once your hamstring is fully extended, slowly come back up, while really utilizing that mind to muscle connection. 

Single leg Romanian Deadlift

Start with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.

Then as you slowly move forward, ensure one leg stays off the floor and extends and kicks back behind you.

While simultaneously you come down and lower your torso until you are almost parallel to the floor.

Pause at the bottom of the movement and push back up using your glutes and the heel which is planted to the floor to generate force.

Come back up and once one leg is done, move onto the other one.

Tip: This version can also be done with dumbbells.


Kneeling Sissy Squats

So this would be a great alternative to leg extensions. And we will begin by looking at the kneeling version for this movement. Start by kneeling down, with your feet behind your glutes, with your torso upright. Then slowly bring your body backwards, with the back of your head coming towards your hamstrings.

While you are doing so you should feel an extension in your quadriceps.

Once you reach the bottom and you feel the extension, bring yourself back up to the starting position while squeezing the quads to do so and using the hips to come back up.

Variation: Standing Sissy Squat

Instead of kneeling down, stand upright and hold onto something, and lower the body into a squat position by bending your knees and leaning your body backwards.

Once you get to the bottom and feel the stretch in the quads come back up to the starting position and go again.

Tip: To make things harder the standing version can be down with a weighted vest or by holding a plate against your chest with your free hand.

Plyo Lunges

Begin by standing shoulder width apart, with the feet staggered, (one in front and one behind).

Then lower the body down until your forward thigh is parallel to the ground and back knee is close to touching the floor.

Once you are at this point, explode upwards, and return back to the bent knee position which you had at the start.

Continue exploding up to complete your set then switch legs.


Cossack Squat

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, similar to that of a sumo deadlift, with your toes pointed outwards.

While staying upright, shift your weight onto your right leg by squatting into a lateral lunge, while simultaneously extending the left leg, and allowing the left toe to point upwards.

Once you have extended the left leg fully, slowly come up and shift your weight and squat laterally into the left leg while extending the right leg. While doing this movement ensure the bent foot is completely planted.

Tip: This version can also be done with dumbbells which would be held similar to that of a goblet squat. 

Hamstrings and Quads:

Bulgarian Split Squats

For this you will need a bench,  box or even a chair, something to place your back leg onto, once you have something, stand hip distance apart approximately two feet ahead of the object behind you.

Then place one foot behind you onto the bench/ box/ chair behind you, and ensure you are comfortable when doing this.

And the other foot should be in front of you, they are essentially in a staggered position.

Ensure your chest is high, then begin the movement by bending your front knee into a squat position, while you are doing this the back leg will naturally also come down. (The knee of the back leg will be close to touching the floor).

As you lower downwards, lean slightly forwards, and come down until the front quad is parallel to the ground. Then press back up by pushing through the front foot.

Complete one foot when switch to the other foot and repeat accordingly.

Tip: Again to make things tougher this can be done with dumbbells also, this can be done with a dumbbell in each hand or with one dumbbell in the same hand as the leg which is on the bench/box/ chair.

So there it is, a leg-endary day with no machines in sight.

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Mehmet Edip
Mehmet Edip is a fitness writer, actor, and model who has worked in the industry for over 8 years. He focuses on achieving his physique through an all natural plant-based diet and shares his insight via his workout & nutrition guides.