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At-Home Leg Workout

Can't get to the gym but want to hit legs hard to grow new muscle in the lower body? Try this at-home workout, no weights required.

At Home Leg Workout

Maybe your gym is closed for a recent pandemic, or major storm, or maybe you just don’t want to drive to the gym today. But if it’s leg day, what’s a lifter to do? After all, you likely squat, deadlift, and leg press hundreds of pounds. How can you get in a decent leg workout without all that weight loaded on you?

I’ve got just the workout for you. Even if you’re a 400+ pound squatter, this workout will have you soaked in sweat, and maybe tears. And the new challenge will not only make you feel wiped, but it will instigate new growth in your lower body.

Workout Overview

The below at-home leg workout employs fast, explosive reps at the beginning of the routine to develop more power in your lower body. Then, it cranks up the intensity with the use of techniques like pre-exhaust, supersets, and Tabatas.

While you can do this workout with nothing but a chair or couch, I suggest you use a small backpack loaded with books, canned goods, or other heavy objects to add extra weight to your body for these exercises. Your best bet is a shorter backpack so that it clears the floor when you do the “kettlebell” swings with the loaded backpack.

This video shows how to load up a backpack at home:

Rest as little as possible between all sets and exercises, except for the jump squats. Here you can rest 1-2 minutes to allow for better recovery between sets and more power.

Warm-Up: Lunges + Swings

Before getting started, do a 10-15-minute general warm-up of walking, running, cycling/biking, or calisthenics.

You’ll start the workout by doing a dynamic warm-up with bodyweight lunges and “kettlebell” swings, using the backpack in place of a kettlebell (unless you actually have a kettlebell or dumbbell at home, in which case you use that).

Power-Up: Jump Squats

After the warm-up, you’ll move to the jump squat to develop more lower-body power that will carry over and add more strength to your squats and deadlifts – that is, once you finally get back to the gym and can use barbells and power racks again.

On jump squats, for every rep squat all the way down to where your quads are parallel with the floor (or slightly past parallel), then explode out of the bottom position so that you leave your feet at the top, jumping as high as possible. Your rep counts here will be relatively low (3 sets of 5-10 reps), since training for power isn't about reaching full fatigue. You want to be fast and explosive on every rep. 

4-Week Progression*: In Week 1, do 5 reps of jump squats per set; in Week 2, do 6 reps per set; Week 3, 8 reps; and Week 4, 10 reps per set.

*Refer to my 4-Week At-Home Workout article for the full-body training split and all four weeks of workouts for all muscle groups.

Pre-Exhaust Superset: Wall Sits + Step-Ups

After jump squats, the pace picks up with wall sits taken to failure, supersetted with step-ups onto a chair or short table (about 18”-20” high, and make sure it’s sturdy so you don’t break it), for 3 sets each.

When doing wall sits, make sure your thighs are parallel with the floor. Feel free to add the backpack on top of your thighs for added weight. Also, wear the backpack for the step-ups if extra weight is needed.

4-Week Progression*: For progressive overload, you can keep the weight the same and increase the time and reps completed per set each week (since the reps are listed as “to failure” in the workout). Or, you can increase the amount of weight used each week; a 5-10-pound increase each week should be sufficient.

Tabatas: Bodyweight Squats

Next, you’ll blast the legs with Tabata squats. Do squats for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat in this manner until you’ve completed 8 sets. That’s 4 minutes of squatting with very little rest, which is very intense. Bodyweight will suffice for most people here, but feel free to wear the backpack for added resistance if you’re more advanced. You can also do these as box squats by sitting back onto the “step” you used for step-ups.

4-Week Progression*: If you find that your bodyweight isn’t much of a challenge for Tabata squats in Week 1, increase the weight each week by wearing a loaded backpack. On the other hand, if you weren’t able to complete all 8 sets of 20 seconds of squatting in Week 1, stick with your bodyweight with the goal of increasing the time on more sets and completing all 8 sets of 20 seconds by Week 4.

Alternating Exhaust: One-Leg Bridges

After the Tabatas have baked your legs, it’s time for single-leg bridges. Here’s how to do them:

  1. Keep your left leg straight and bend the right leg so that your foot is flat on the floor and your knee angle is about 120 degrees.
  2. Use your glutes and hams to push your right foot into the ground to raise your glutes off the floor until your torso and thighs are in a straight line. Hold this position for a second as you contract the glutes and hams as hard as possible.
  3. Slowly lower to the start position and repeat for reps.
  4. Once you’ve completed all reps for the right side, immediately switch to the left side and complete as many reps as you can until failure. Switch back to the right side and do as many reps as you can, again until failure. Keep going in this manner until you’ve completed 3 sets per leg.

One-Leg Bridge Training Tips:

  • If your non-working leg gets tired holding it out, you can rest it on a pad or box about 6-12 inches high.
  • If you need more resistance, hold the backpack on your pelvis or place the working leg on a step or bench.
  • If one-leg bridges are too hard, do the two-leg version by keeping both legs bent with both feet flat on the floor.

4-Week Progression*: Each week, try to complete more reps on each set (to failure).

Burnout: Lunge Around the Clock

You’ll finish the workout with one round of an exercise I call “Lunge Around the Clock.” To do it, start on the right side and do a forward lunge. Then, do a side lunge on the same side, and finish with a reverse lunge. Follow the same pattern on the left leg, and keep alternating legs like this until you reach muscle failure.

4-Week Progression*: If this exercise is hard to do at the end of your workout, when your legs are dead, stick with your bodyweight and try to complete more reps on each version of the lunge each week. If you find it less of a challenge, increase weight each week by wearing a loaded backpack.

You’re FINALLY done with the workout, and your legs should be done, too. And you haven’t even left the house! Who says you need a barbell and a power rack to get a good leg workout? This at-home routine proves you don’t.


At-Home Leg Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
Bodyweight Lunge 1 20 10 reps per leg
Kettlebell Swing 1 60 sec. Use loaded backpack.
Jump Squat 3 5-10  
Wall Sit 3 To failure  
Superset with      
Step-Up 3 To failure Use bodyweight or loaded backpack.
Bodyweight Squat 8 20 sec. Tabatas: Rest 10 seconds between sets.
One-Leg Bridge 3 To failure See copy above for exercise how-to.
Lunge Around the Clock 1 To failure See copy above for exercise how-to.

Download Workout Here


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