The Best Home Leg Exercises


Developing and exercising the muscles of your legs will help improve posture, burn calories, increase total body strength, and provide muscular symmetry. If you don't want to join a gym, you can still perform a number of exercises at home to achieve the goal of training and building the muscles in your legs.

At Home, With Equipment
If you own a barbell and a squat rack, either front or back squats are one of the best exercises to perform at home as they work the entire leg, lower back and hip muscles. Make sure to learn the movements correctly, as proper technique in any lift will greatly lessen the chance of injury.

However, if you only own a barbell or dumbbells, you can still work your legs effectively at home. With either a barbell or dumbbells you can perform lunges, which will additionally work all of your leg muscles and the muscles of the lower back, as well. With a barbell only you can do dead-lifts of a number of varieties (type "sumo dead-lift" or "Romanian dead-lift" into YouTube to see variations). Dead-lifts will work the entire leg, and depending on which variation you choose, can emphasize training your hamstrings, quads, butt and lower back.

At Home, Without Equipment
As Special Forces trainer Pavel Tsatsouline says, "High resistance can be achieved without heavy weights." You can even use your own body as resistance.

For an isometric (static-state) leg exercise, squat against a wall for as long as you can. Keep your back flat against the wall, and your thighs parallel to the floor. Holding the squat for 30 seconds is very good for a beginner.

Traditional squats also work the legs. To only use body weight, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and bend your legs as if you were sitting back into an imaginary chair. One-legged squats provide an even greater degree of difficultly.

To make squats more challenging, hold something in your hands. Dumbbells are ideal, but you can also use anything from light soup cans to heavy paint cans. You can replace squats by doing one leg step-ups on a set of stairs or a bench.

Perform dead lifts at home with simple objects you find around the house. Load up your laundry basket with books. Keep your back flat as you bend over at the hips, grip the basket, and extend your legs until they are fully straight. You can do lunges just using body weight (or holding a full paint can or gallon jug of water in each hand).

Jumping up onto a box of a certain height (say 20 inches) will also work the entire leg, as will "squat jumps," which involve jumping down into a squatting position and then springing up as quickly and with as much force as possible.

Adding Aerobics and Cardio
Many home-training videos and some television programs will focus on developing the legs aerobically at home. A step-workout will require you to work the muscles of your entire leg and provide tone and conditioning. Similarly, using a stair machine or elliptical machines will achieve the same effect. You can also perform any of the weightlifting exercises in Sections 1 and 2 in an aerobic manner by using much lighter weight and circuit training--that is, performing several exercises in a row without taking breaks longer than 15 to 20 seconds in between each exercise. Try to shoot for at least 20 minutes of cardio work in order to firm and tighten your legs.