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A calisthenics leg workout can activate several lower body muscle groups. Depending on the types of legs exercises you perform, you may also work your core and upper body as an unexpected side effect.
Your lower body is responsible for carrying your bodyweight. It’s the major driver of movements like walking, running, and jumping. This is why leg development needs to be prioritized in your workouts.
In this post, we will outline the various bodyweight leg exercises that will get you into tip-top shape. We’ll give you what you need to design the ultimate calisthenics leg day. We talk benefits, workouts, and tips – get ready to sweat!
Calisthenics for Legs: Muscle Groups
Before we dive into the exercises, it helps to have a clear picture of how your legs play a role in workouts and your life. Let’s begin with the muscle groups in your legs.
The thigh muscles make it easy for the human body to function. These control the movement of your legs and hips. They enable you to walk, run, jump and be the best active version of yourself.
Your thigh muscles include:
- Adductors: These are positioned along your inner thighs. Adductors help to bring your legs together.
- Hamstrings: These muscles run down the back of your thigh between your hip and knee. Be mindful of these muscles as they are susceptible to injury.
- Pectineus: This muscle is a hip adductor. This muscle can be found within the upper front and inner region of your thighs.
- Quadriceps: Quadriceps include four parts: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Together, the quads promote movement, strength, and stability.
- Sartorius: It is the longest muscle in the human body. It allows for hip and knee flexion, as well as adduction.
The calves are found on the back of your lower legs. Calf muscles provide support for the rest of your body when you stand.
These muscles also allow you to move your leg and feet in everyday activities like walking, running and cycling.
The calf muscles are made up of:
- Gastrocnemius: This muscle’s responsibility is the flexion of the knee and foot. It is the larger calf muscle. It runs up from the Achilles tendon to the femur.
- Soleus: You’ll find this muscle on the backs of your lower legs. It starts at the back of the shin bone and connects to your heel as part of the Achilles.
Your lower body muscles often work hand in hand. This means that even if you were to activate your glutes with a squat movement, parts of your thigh muscles will be activated too.
What Are the Best Calisthenics Leg Exercises?
You’re probably thinking, what are the best leg workouts for me? There are hundreds of options to choose from and they may all be beneficial to your overall leg training.
With minimal to no equipment and your strength, there is nothing you cant tackle. Let’s take a look at some of the best calisthenics legs exercises.
(Please keep in mind that you should consult a qualified medical professional before taking part in new physical activity).
Pistol squats are a variation of standard bodyweight squats. Instead of both knees bent, you use one leg to lower down into the squat position. You keep the other leg straight.
As a result, your lower body creates a pistol shape. Think of them as one-legged squats.
Pistol squats target the following muscles:
- Lower back
- Core muscles
This type of “leg” calisthenics training helps with strength and balance. Balance is the one hurdle that will have to be faced and won when doing pistol squats.
It highlights any imbalances and involves more strength from the lower body muscles to execute. Try them out and see for yourself!
Box jumps increase your endurance, speed, and strength. These may come across as athlete-level exercises, but that is not the case at all.
A good place to start is with a shorter box (or stable ledge) and lower reps.
Gradually increase duration, intensity, and difficulty. Your knees and ankles will be at work, so aim to land lightly, to reduce the impact.
The trick with jump squats is your form and tempo. You want to get your heart rate up and feel controlled power throughout the movement.
Before you start, check your squat form. Don’t let your knees go over your toes during the first squat part of the movement.
As you jump up from the squat, the power should come from your glutes and quads. Reach your hands up during the jump to increase your power.
Land and lower back into a squat with your hands behind you.
Jump squat benefits:
- Tone your glutes, legs, and calves
- Strengthens your bones
- Improve balance
- Burn calories
- Increase power, strength, and cardiovascular health
Lunges are popular around the world as a way to work multiple muscles at once.
From a standing position, step forward with your leg. Bend your knees to approximately 90 degrees and place your front foot on the ground.
Your lead knee should not pass your toes as you lower toward the ground. Engage your abdominals at the same time to get the extra benefit of activating your core too.
There are also many lunge variations. These include:
- Static lunges
- Back lunges
- Curtsy lunges
- Lateral lunges
Glute bridges involve lying on a mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You then thrust your hips upwards in a controlled movement, squeezing your glutes at the top.
No equipment is needed and the benefits are incredible. It’s a lower body calisthenics exercise that tones your glutes, hamstrings, and core strength. So, if you plan to get fit and toned, this is for you!
Other benefits include increased flexibility and improved deadlift performance. This exercise can also reduce back pain because stronger glutes can help with the alleviation of spinal stress.
Calf raises are often overlooked as calisthenics exercises. These are thought to belong more to the strength and muscle-building arenas.
However, strengthening your calves is important because they are crucial to exercises like running, jumping, and squatting.
Calf raise benefits include:
- Ankle stability
- Improved lower body performance
- Bigger calves
You can also experiment with different variations. Mix it up with standing, inner, outer, seated, and weighted calf raises.
Calisthenics Leg Exercises: Progression Tips
With most exercises, you need to work hard and challenge yourself if you want to progress.
Let’s take a look at four things you can do to advance with your calisthenics leg training.
To get those strong-looking and feeling legs, you should experiment with different leg workout variations.
For instance, with squats, you have a ton of variations you can try like pistol squats, archer squats, and jump squats. With lunges, you can try jumping, walking, and weighted lunges.
Variations help to challenge your body in different ways so it doesn’t get complacent. Calisthenics has a huge range of exercises that allows for a great amount of progression. So, you won’t get bored or stuck anytime soon.
Good nutrition and fitness training work hand in hand. You can do one without the other, but you’re missing out on a ton of benefits.
An effective nutrition plan produces the energy you’ll need in your fitness journey. Eating healthy, balanced meals will get you supercharged for your workouts and help you to build muscle and recover faster.
The age-old adage of “abs are made in the kitchen” has stuck around for a reason. If fat loss is your main goal, you need to address your nutrition. To see muscle definition, you may need to lose body fat. And, this can be done through a healthy and sustainable caloric deficit
We’ve mentioned that calisthenics doesn’t need weights or big gym equipment. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use any. Leg exercise equipment can help with strength and leg development.
Weights add resistance to your training, helping you to build muscle and challenge your body. Wearing a weighted vest or holding dumbbells while doing lunges and squats can make a huge difference to your strength progression.
Safety is always going to come first. These workouts can be intense and take a lot from you physically. Know your limits. Strive for good form in all your calisthenics leg workouts.
If you’re not sure how to perform the exercise safely, consult a fitness coach to find out more information on the various precautions you can take.
Final Thoughts on Calisthenics Leg Workouts
Now you have all the information you need for a champion calisthenics leg workout. If you’re new to this discipline (or fitness in general), start slowly with squats and lunges. Keep the reps and sets low until you’re ready to push harder.
As you progress in strength, power, and mobility, try out more difficult variations like pistol squats. Or, increase the tempo with high reps of moves like jump squats.
Add some upbeat music to your workouts to get you motivated, moving, and having fun as you accomplish your body goals.
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