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How to Get Stronger Legs Without Weights

by
author image Melissa Sabo
Melissa Sabo is an occupational therapist who started writing professional guidebooks for all Flagship Rehabilitation employees in 2009. Specializing in applied therapy and exercise for non-medical readers, she also coauthored a manual on wheelchair positioning. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy.
How to Get Stronger Legs Without Weights
Tone your legs without weights. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Getting strong, toned legs without weights may seem challenging -- but it is possible. You can use homemade exercise tools, your own body weight or resistance bands to strengthen your leg muscles. Getting stronger legs without weights will require some planning and creativity. However, the wide accessibility of certain items, such as a bath towel, and the light and portable nature of a resistance band affords you the ability to strengthen your legs almost anywhere.

Use Your Body Weight To Your Advantage

Many weight bearing exercises can help you to target your leg muscles and improve your strength. While lunges strengthen your entire leg, these exercises primarily focus on your thighs. That's because when you're in a lunge you contract the quadriceps muscle as you lower and raise your body hinging your weight primarily at the knee joint. Use heel lifts and toe taps to work out your calf muscles, lifting your body weight as you bend at your ankle joint, targeting the gastrocnemius muscle. Side lunges can help you strengthen your outer hip and buttock muscles as you will contract your outer quadriceps muscles along with your three gluteus muscles. Exercise to the point of fatigue as long as you are able to keep your form, which is often eight to 12 repetitions for three sets.

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Don't Resist the Band

Resistance bands are an effective alternative to weighted resistance training. Light weight and small, these bands can be taken almost anywhere and offer a wide array of exercises. For more serious weightlifters, heavy-duty resistance bands can be used to replace a higher amount of weight. Wrap the band around your foot and hold the opposite end or attach the opposite end to a sturdy fixture, such as a table leg. Perform the same exercises, such as leg curls, ankle pumps, leg presses and leg lifts, making sure that you are moving away from the stabilizing point of the resistance band to strengthen your muscles -- as if you were using a weighted pulley system. Use a similar amount of repetitions as you would with weight training, usually eight to 12 repetitions for three sets of each exercise; increase the number of repetitions if the resistance band does not provide as much resistance as your weights.

Homemade and Equipment-Free Options

Substitute the resistance band with a towel wrapped around your foot and using your arms to supply the resistance to your movement. Consider adding plyometrics to your exercise routine to exercise with explosive, strength-oriented power. For example, jump forward and up onto a stable deck or porch over one or two steps, using your gastrocnemius, quadriceps and gluteus muscles as you push upwards from the ground. Also, side jumps help target the outer gluteus and quadriceps muscles. Avoid trying to jump more than two steps because your body not only needs to travel upwards but also horizontally over the width of the steps.

Pilates and Yoga

Although traditionally considered for flexibility and balance training, many moves in yoga and Pilates can help you target your leg muscles. Most of these exercises that are weight bearing can help you tone your legs. Some examples include a V-sit crunch or extended V-sit hold or a straight leg plank position in Pilates -- and the Warrior Pose or the Tree Pose in yoga. Although these exercises might not provide as much strengthening as weight training, they can be a useful alternative or option for cross training to add to your workout routine.

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