Build leg muscle without weights using just eight moves—here's how

Work your lower body to promote stability with this short, eight-minute bodyweight leg routine

Man holding a squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's common to train your upper body when working out. After all, it's easy to pick up a set of dumbbells and start exercising your biceps. But your lower body is just as important, and you can build stronger legs with this eight-move bodyweight routine.

You may already use one of the best kettlebells to do kettlebell swings, build core strength, and develop your lower half. But it's not always possible to fit in some dedicated weights training.

If you still want to exercise your legs but don't have access to weights or gym equipment, this eight-move bodyweight workout from online trainer Chris Heria can help—and there's no jumping involved.

Many leg routines include high-impact exercises like jumps or running on the spot, but Heria has developed a low-impact workout for his digital workout platform, THENX, that'll be easy on your joints.

Plus, low-impact routines are quiet, so they're great for anyone living in an apartment or shared house. You'll do each move for 45 seconds, take a 15-second break, then start on the next exercise.

Watch Chris Heria's eight-move leg workout

This workout style is known as High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The aim is to exercise intensely for short bursts, rest quickly, and continue with the routine. This helps fit a lot into a quick workout, but there are other benefits too.

It also raises your heart rate and boosts your metabolism. So you'll burn energy and fat during the session but also for hours after, which is why people often use a HIIT workout for fat loss.

Many HIIT routines focus on cardio exercise, but Heria's strength-focused workout is an example of high-intensity resistance training or HIRT. This blends the metabolism-boosting effects of HIIT with strength-building moves.

If you want to try the routine independently or add some of the moves into your existing workout plan, all the exercises you need are listed below.

  • Squats 
  • Single leg glute bridge
  • Assisted pistol squat
  • Side lunge
  • Step up
  • Laying donkey kicks
  • Curtesy lunges
  • Calf raises

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, HIRT enhances muscle strength, muscle endurance, and lean body mass.

If you have some weights at home or the gym, like the best adjustable dumbbells, you can add them to the routine to increase the load and work your muscles harder.

Plus, then you can vary your exercise between Heria's quick leg routine and this dumbbell cardio workout, which primarily focuses on building upper body strength and developing a stronger core.

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.