A lot of guys already don’t like investing too much time in leg workouts. And look, we get it: lifting heavy iron overhead or crushing through some sort of pull-up circuit looks and feels a little more badass than doing calf raises or lunges. And now that coronavirus has us trapped inside, it’s become even more difficult to do a leg-focused workout. Unless you’ve got quite the setup at home, classic leg exercises like barbell squats and deadlifts are out of the question for the foreseeable future. But friends don’t let friends skip leg day, as the meme goes, and it’s still possible to work those shapely gams from home.
It’s also a good idea: Our legs include some of the biggest muscles in the body, including the quads and glutes. Working large muscles requires more energy, which means that you’re burning more calories. This can catapult your metabolic rate for several hours, according to research published in the journal PLoS One. Working specifically on your lower half can have other perks, too. Prince Brathwaite, CEO and founder of Trooper Fitness in New York City, points out that multiple studies have linked leg exercises and testosterone production.
Even if you’re missing the squat rack, you don’t need all that much to get in a great leg workout at home. Here are two leg day workouts to get you going.
1. DUMBBELL LEG WORKOUT
Brathwaite prescribes three supersets, resting 30 seconds both between each round and each superset. Complete each superset three times before moving onto the next. Use dumbbells on the heavy side of medium—whatever that means to you.
Squat (5 sets of 10 reps)
Pistol squat (10 alternating reps)
Dumbbell lateral lunges (20 alternating reps)
Dumbbell reverse lunge (20 alternating reps)
Single-leg jumping power lunges (10 reps per side)
Squat hold pulse (30 seconds)
Glute bridge (20 reps)
Stand with feet at hip-width distance, holding dumbbells at your shoulders with palms facing in. Send the glutes back and lower down into a squat until your quads are about parallel with the ground. Press through the heels to return to stand.
Bodyweight pistol squat
Start balancing on your right leg with your left foot lifted out in front of you, as close to 90° as possible. Keeping your balance,
Dumbbell lateral lunge
Stand with your feet together holding the dumbbells at your sides. Take a large step out to the left.
Dumbbell reverse lunge
Stand with your feet together holding the dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Step back with your left foot and lower into a reverse lunge, keeping your chest tall. Push through your left heel to return to stand; repeat on the opposite side.
Single-leg jumping power lunge
Start standing with your feet together. Step your left foot back into a lunge, then press through your right heel to explode upward, driving forward your left knee up toward the chest. When you return to the ground, lower back down immediately into a reverse lunge on the same side. Do 10 reps total; repeat on the opposite side.
Squat hold pulse
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width distance. Send the glutes back to lower down into a squat. Pulse up and down an inch for 30 seconds. (To increase the intensity, hold one dumbbell at chest height.)
Lie face up with your feet under your knees, holding a single dumbbell on your pelvis. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips up towards the ceiling, forming a bridge with your torso. Hold for a moment and make a controlled return to the ground.
2. BODYWEIGHT LEG WORKOUT
Dumbbells and other home gym equipment have become hard to find during the coronavirus crisis, so we talked to Todd Anderson, a Tier X Coach at Equinox—that's the gym's highest-level trainer—to get an entirely-bodyweight leg workout.
Complete four rounds of circuit one, resting 30 seconds between exercises and two minutes between each round. Then do the second circuit once as fast as possible to finish.
Bulgarian split squat (10 reps each leg)
Cossack squat (16 alternating reps)
Frog pump (30 seconds)
Alternating jump lunge (20 alternating reps)
50 Bodyweight squats
40 Reverse lunges
30 Glute bridges
20 Mountain climbers
10 Squat jumps
Bulgarian split squat
Stand about two feet in front of a bench or chair. Keeping your distance, place your right toes behind you on the item. Lower down into a lunge, making sure your knee is still tracking directly over the toes. Push back up to start for one rep. Do 10 reps and repeat on the opposite side.
Start in an extremely wide stance with your toes pointing out at about 45 degrees. Shift your weight toward your left side and begin to sit. Make sure your right heel is firmly on the ground, but feel free to allow your toes to pick up. As you lower down, make sure to keep a tall chest as you push your right knee out over your toes. Your goal is to sit as low as possible, and keep your left foot flat on the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
A fun spin on a classic glute bridge, the frog pump requires the same setup to start. Lie face up with your feet under your knees. Then, flair your knees outward so you’re creating a diamond shape and the soles of your feet are touching. Press down through the feet while engaging the glutes. Pump up and down one inch from the top position for 30 seconds.
Alternating jump lunge
Start standing with your feet together. Lower down into a front lunge on the right foot. Engage the core and press through the right heel to explode upward, switching your feet in the process, landing in a forward left lunge. Repeat.
Begin in a push-up position. Engage your core and keep your back neutral. Drive your right foot in toward the chest, keeping your foot flexed. Then, quickly repeat with the left for one rep.
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