Having strong legs is a big factor in avoiding injury, especially into old age. It also helps with running faster, jumping higher, maintaining balance, and increasing the ease of daily functional activities.
Doing leg exercises also helps in healthy weight loss, increasing bone strength, and building muscle.
There are many different ways to work your legs, but today we’re going to focus on the increasingly popular (but not new) method of using calisthenics. (For the routine and video please scroll down.)
Focus On Form & Progressions
Bodyweight exercises (calisthenics)are great because you can do them anywhere and then typically it doesn’t cost you anything to work out because you can make things work with almost anything you find at a park or around the house.
One of the key things to focus on with any workout routine is form and progressing to the more difficult versions of a workout. When it comes to form, really make sure you maintain it throughout the full set of each exercise. This will help you build a good mind body relationship as well as make you stronger. When we begin losing form, we don’t challenge the muscle or muscle groups being worked properly.
If you can’t quite maintain form, it might be because the exercise is too tough for you at that time and you need to build more strength first. This is OK! Don’t let needing to use progressions worry you or get to your ego. That’s a big part of bringing the proper mindset into lifestyle, it’s not about getting jacked and impressing people, it’s about being healthy.
Progressions on various exercises can be found simply by searching for them on the internet. The video below is primarily made up of moves that most people can do. If you reach any you can’t do, one way of going through the program is simply by doing what you can and build that up over time. Then add in exercises as you get stronger.
For people who have a really hard time with mobility, are older or who may have had injuries, a great way to start building your legs is simply by sitting down on the edge of a chair and then standing up again without using your hands as leverage. When you sit, keep your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and then stand up while thinking about driving your heels into the ground. Start with doing 3 sets of 5 or 10 reps and build up.
Think You Need Weights For Legs?
Try the one legged squat/Pistol Squat. This is a tough calisthenics move that many trained weight lifters have a tough time doing as well. There are proper ways and improper ways to do this. Having good form is always key to building strong muscles no matter what exercise you are doing. It’s one thing to be able to complete a rep, it’s another thing to be able to complete a PROPER rep. Callisthenics is about control, mind and body relationship and building deep strength, for this, you have to pay attention.
The one legged squat is very tough, I bet very few people coming across it right now will be able to do it (I can’t either) and so it’s important to find out how to do the Pistol Squat properly. For that, we have the video below. If you want to learn progressions into the Pistol, watch this video.
The Leg Routine
One leg squat / pistol squat
2. Hamstring / glute bridge
Hanging leg curl / hamstring curl
+ Raised and one leg variations
3. High steps
4. Box jumps
5. Calf raises and reverse raises