To achieve an intense leg workout, you do not have to use expensive exercise machines or have tons of free weights on hand. Body weight can be used as an effective resistance for training your legs as long as you utilize appropriate exercises and proper exercise technique. In addition, by manipulating the sets and reps you use in your routine, you can truly fatigue the muscles you're targeting.
Body-weight squats are performed the same way traditional squats are, but without the use of dumbbells or a barbell. The position and movement of the body is the same. Keeping your back arched throughout the movement, with your head looking forward, make sure your hips lower to a point that allows your thighs to be parallel to the ground. Then manipulate the number of sets and reps you perform, and the speed at which you move, to achieve the desired level of muscle fatigue.
Using a wall to stabilize your upper body while sitting in the lowest position of a squat is called a wall sit. Using repetitions of time within various sets is a simple way to develop muscular endurance within your legs. Basically, what you are doing with this exercise is forcing your legs to support your body weight over time in a parallel squat position. The wall helps maintain back support to reduce the risk of back strain or injury and ensure that the tension developed from this exercise is where it belongs, on your legs and not your back.
Body-weight lunges can provide a tremendous workout for the legs. According to Justin Keogh's article in the February 1999 issue of the "Strength and Conditioning Journal," the front lunge offers a good eccentric challenge to most of the extensor muscles in the lower body. The eccentric contraction occurs after the initial stepping motion, when the bent leg thrusts the body back into an upright position. The key is making sure that your knee does not extend in front of your toes, and that your upper body does not lean forward or backward during the lift.
Standing Calf Raises
Standing on a small ledge of a step is an easy way to perform a standing calf raise. With your right heel hanging off the ledge, raise your left foot so all of your body weight is supported by your right foot. Raising your right heel as high as it can go will fully contract your calf. When lowering it, allow it go below toe height to fully stretch the muscle. After returning it to the starting position and completing the required number of reps, switch your feet so that you can work your left calf in the same manner.
- "Strength and Conditioning Journal"; Bodyweight Training: A Return To Basics; Jeff Harrison; April 2010
- "Strength and Conditioning Journal"; Lower Body Resistance Training: Increasing Functional Performance with Lunges; Justin Keogh; February 1999
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2000