You don’t need a gym membership to get a burn building. And especially in the age of COVID-19, knowing how to strength train at home
is a necessity for many of us. But how can you build lower-body strength when you have limited equipment, space, and coaching? Keep scrolling to learn how to work out legs at home, no matter what level athlete you are.
Creating Your Home Leg Day Schedule
When it comes to your home fitness programming, it pays to plan ahead. So, how can you create a workout plan for leg days? One idea is to break your workout down into:
- Compound movements (like squats)
- Complementary movements (like calf raises)
Essentially, you can build a “schedule” by using these categories. To build strength and improve muscle definition, you need to work legs twice a week, in the beginning. After that, once a week will be enough to maintain. You could opt for one or two longer classes that focus on compound movements and hit everything at once, or you go for two to four shorter classes that focus on complementary exercises and hit smaller parts of the legs during each class.
The idea is that you have a “menu” of options to pull from, so you just plug in various exercises and you’re ready to hit the ground running (or squatting).
Another way you can go about this is to have designated lower-body days. On these days, you’ll do one compound movement and two to four complementary movements. For instance, if Monday is leg day, you might do:
- Squats (compound)
- Bulgarian split squats (complementary)
- Calf raises (complementary)
- Lateral lunges (complementary)
Find what formatting works best for you. The key is to avoid training by the seat of your pants.
Options with Weights
Important note: Whether you’re training with or without weight, remember that form always matters! Proper technique is necessary to reap all the benefits and avoid injury. This is why when you train with Tempo, we use 3D Tempo Vision to ensure that your body is always in the right alignment.
Let’s say you have access to weights at home. Maybe you’ve got dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell/plates, sandbags, or med balls within reach. When it comes to how to work out legs at home, there are literally infinite ways to use these items.
There’s no possible way we can list everything, but here are several suggestions for how to train your legs with weights:
- Step-back lunges: Hold one kettlebell/dumbbell in front of your chest, or one in each hand at your sides, on your shoulders, or overhead. If you’re using a barbell, hold it in the front, back, or overhead.
- Squats: You can use weights exactly as you would with lunges.
- Bulgarian split squats: You can use weights exactly as you would with lunges, except for holding a barbell overhead. This isn’t commonly done and probably isn’t the safest thing to try.
- Step-ups: If you have a secure chair, bench, or other raised surface, step-ups are great for building strength and also improving balance. Barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells are all fair game.
This barely scratches the surface but should give you plenty of movements to work with — and variations for each.
Options Using Only Your Body Weight
Many of us need to know how to work out legs at home with no equipment. Luckily, you still have plenty of options. You can perform all of these lower-body exercises without any added weight, and they’ll trigger strength gains and muscle growth:
- Lunges (stationary or walking, forward/backyard/lateral/curtsy)
- Jumping lunges
- Jump squats
- Sumo squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Calf raises
Don’t forget, too, that there are ways to increase the intensity even if you’re only using the weight of your body. Here are three ideas:
- Slow down the movement. For example, perform an air squat but count to five on the way down. This is called a tempo squat! (You can apply this idea to any movement.)
- Add a pause. Take the standard air squat and add a three-second pause at the bottom of it.
- Increase the reps. You’re going to feel a huge difference between a set of five Bulgarian split squats and a set of 10.
Utilizing Resistance Bands
are great because they're low-impact, which makes them very safe to use. They're affordable and don't take up much space, and you can easily incorporate them into your at-home leg exercises. While bands don’t effectively target larger muscles (like your gluteus maximus), they’re excellent for reaching smaller accessory muscles, like your hip abductors. For this reason, banded exercises are a good supplement in your programming.
Keep in mind that for these movements, the band should always be on tension. If it loses that tension, then it defeats the purpose of using a band in the first place.
- Banded squats: Step into the band and loop it around your legs, either directly above or below your knees.
- Banded walking: Loop the band around your ankles or above/below your knees. Walk forward, backward, or laterally.
- Banded leg extensions: Step into the band and wrap it around your ankles. Slowly lift one leg directly behind you. Only lift it as far as you can while keeping it straight. (Your front leg can have a slight bend to it.) You can also lift it forward and to the side. Additionally, you can sit in a chair and do seated forward leg extensions.
- Clamshells: Lay on your side with the band looped above your knees. Your hips should be bent at roughly 45 degrees, your knees at about 90s degrees. With your hips and knees stacked on each other, lift your top knee open and hold for a few seconds before lowering it again.
A Quick, Needed Cooldown
Even if you are training without any extra weight, you still need to cool down after your workout. This helps your body return to a resting state, decreases the soreness you’ll experience later, and helps prevent injury.
The exact cooldown you’ll do will depend on your workout. Whatever muscles you trained are the ones you should cool down afterward. Here are some suggestions:
- Hamstring stretch: Stand with both feet together, legs straight. Fold at the hips, letting your hands touch the floor (if possible). You can also sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and perform the same stretch.
- Calf stretch: Stand in front of a wall and prop one foot against it, the other leg straight behind you. Gently lean toward the wall. You should feel the stretch in that front calf.
- Quad stretch: In a standing position, bend one knee and grab that same foot behind you. Pull your foot toward your butt.
Get Started with Tempo
While having rows and rows of equipment and machines at home might be nice, here’s the good news: It’s not really necessary. A smart home gym system like Tempo gives you everything you need. Tempo Move
gives you real-time guidance like a personal trainer, performance tracking, and smart equipment simply by using your iPhone. The Tempo Studio
uses 3D Tempo Vision to track your body and deliver personalized workouts.
We know you’re not like everyone else, so we’re committed to giving you a customized gym experience without ever needing to leave your home — and without sacrificing the quality of your workout.