Build leg muscle without weights in just eight moves

You don't need heavy weights to build lower body strength –just these bodyweight squat variations

Woman performing a jump squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people avoid leg days, preferring to work their upper body instead. But stronger leg muscles play a vital role in compound moves like squats and are critical to your run performance. Luckily, you can use these eight moves to train your legs without weights.

While some of us enjoy training specific muscle groups on certain days, others learn how to deadlift with dumbbells for full-body workout sessions instead. Often, people imagine you need heavy weights to build leg muscle, but that isn't always the case.

Thanks to a new video from personal trainer Adam Sinicki, who goes by the handle The Bioneer, you can integrate his eight bodyweight leg exercises into your routine when you're training without weights.

Your legs stabilize the rest of your body during other exercises, including running or weightlifting, and help improve your posture. And, as Sinicki points out, if you suffer from joint pain, you might not want to load your legs with heavy weights.

Like in many of his videos, Sinicki's home leg workout isn't a guided session. Instead, he demonstrates each of the eight moves, shows you how to get the form just right, and explains why the exercises are so practical for building leg muscle.

Watch The Bioneer's home leg workout

The squat, a workout staple, features heavily throughout the routine. It's a highly effective bodyweight move, but The Bioneer adds some variations to work additional muscles, which can have a sizeable impact on your athletic performance.

There are jump squats, air squats, pistol squats, cossack squats, and split squats, all of which have a different impact on your body and help develop functional lower body muscle. To keep things interesting, he also recommends glute bridges and calf raises.

It might not seem incredibly impactful, but the calf raises—tensing your calf muscles as you lift your feet and rise onto your toes—can have a considerable effect. Impressively, the 1,000 daily calf raises challenge can build substantial muscle in just one week.

But you don't have to spend all your time on calf raises to build lower body muscle. These bodyweight squat variations are effective in their own right, but you can take things up a notch by adding weights into the mix.

You won't need gym equipment like barbells or leg press machines, just a set of the best adjustable dumbbells or one of the best kettlebells. Using these increases the load for each move and further improves your stability and balance.

This doesn't have to break the bank either, as you can save on some of the top models by investing in a set of top dumbbells on sale right now.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.