Let's hear it for at-home workouts! In a summer filled with all the plans, doing workouts from home is a great approach to squeeze in a sweat session, no driving to the gym required. And if you're afraid that sticking to the confines of your living will sacrifice effectiveness for convenience, we encourage you to think again.
We recruited two trainers to tell us how to make the most of these workouts, so you can have your best lower-body workout ever — regardless of where you are. If you’re ready for their expert scoop, keep scrolling.
Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.
What can I do at home for leg day?
"Fitting exercise into our busy lives isn't always easy, but a little goes a long way and consistency is key!" says Sophie Rambaud, running, strength and mobility expert and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. "In fact, a few of my personal favorite lower-body exercises with or without weights can actually be done anywhere, anytime."
Below, she picks a few of her favorite leg movements for a simple at home or in the gym workout. Her routine below includes two superset workouts and a finisher.
Build Leg Strength With This At-Home Workout
Try this at-home leg workout created by Rambaud.
How to do it: Perform 5 sets of 5 reps or 4 sets of 12 reps of each superset 30 to 90 seconds of rest after both exercises are completed.
The Warm Up
Jog for 5 to 10 minutes or complete 3 rounds of 10 squats, jumping jacks or leg swings.
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Single-Leg Deadlift
- Lateral Lunge
- Hip Thruster
How to do it: Perform for 30-60 seconds with a 30 to 90 second rest between sets; Repeat as desired.
- Walking Lunge or Alternating Reverse Lunge
Rambaud's Tips For Great Leg Workouts At Home
- "The tempo or the speed of a movement can affect the difficulty. For example, a slower movement increases time under tension and causes the movement to feel harder! I also like to add pauses into the 'bottom' of the movement. This includes, for example, holding your squat at the bottom before standing back up. This not only makes it tougher but helps you own your form in that position, which is important!"
- "Another great way to increase the difficulty of your at-home leg workout is with the placement of the weight you’re using (if you're using weights). This can change the difficulty of an exercise and hit your muscles/core, etc. in a new way."
What are other ways can I work legs at home with weights?
When it comes to tackling a leg day from home, Chris Chang, Director of Exercise Science and Programming for Ergatta recommends focusing on deadlifts, goblet squats and reverse lunges to get "the biggest bang for your buck," he says.
Along with Rambaud, he also mentions that if you don't have traditional dumbbells or kettlebells you can reach for other things around the home like a backpack, duffle bag or large jugs full of water. The benefit of going this route? "The nice part about this is when you want to go up or down in weight you can either add or remove contents inside of these to manipulate their weight," he says.
How can I work legs at home without weights?
Chang continues that it is possible to work legs at home without weights… if you get creative, according to Chang. "Using body weight with leverage is one option," he says. "For beginners, try a Single-Leg Glute Bridge, Single-Leg Hip Thrust or a Supine Hamstring Curl with your feet on a towel sliding on a smooth surface. For advanced exercisers, go for Pistol Squats."
Another option that can be beneficial? Indoor rowing. "Rowing targets your glutes and hamstrings in order to help rebalance the tension in your body that gets thrown out of whack by excessive sitting," says Chang. "I prefer game-based platforms, like rowing on my Ergatta, because beating the game or winning a race really challenges me to continuously push myself harder to progress to the next level."
Can you still build leg muscle without weights?
The key to answering this question is understanding what’s required to build muscle in the first place! Chang sheds some light on this by saying: “In a workout you are undergoing stress that breaks your body down, then muscle actually gets built during the recovery from that stress. In order to build muscle we need to stress the body appropriately through load and volume (not too much or too little). There also needs to be some form of progressive overload on your system because your body will adapt to the stresses you provide if you don’t progress in intensity over time.”
His solution? Bodyweight exercises that focus on leverage rather than weight. "Each exercise I mentioned (above) has a string of progressions to make it easier or harder by manipulating leverage to increase tension on your muscles in the same way added weight would in weightlifting," he says.
Chang's Tips For Great Leg Workouts At Home
- "Start by choosing the exercise progression that you can perform for 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps. Make it your goal to build up to 3 sets of 12 before attempting to level up your exercise progression."
- "Once you can do 3 sets of 12, step up your game and once again try to build up to 3 sets of 12 at this next level progression. This will give you an avenue for continuously pushing yourself to the next level even without weights."
- "Finally, once you conquer the pinnacle of the beginner level exercises I mentioned, then you are ready to start the entry level progressions for the Pistol Squats!"