Here are some good leg exercises that you can do at home with no equipment or just a simple pair of ankle weights.
These exercises are very effective at building and strengthening leg muscles and can add a nice supplement to your running, walking or other cardiovascular exercise routine.
The muscle group pagehas detailed diagrams on the different muscles of the legs to help you visualize which muscles will be worked with each of these leg exercises.
If you’re an avid runner or walker, chances are good that you have fairly developed muscles on the back of your legs (hamstrings and calf).
These leg exercises below can both help you strengthen these muscles and develop your quadriceps, hip flexors and other leg muscle groups.
As with any exercise, start slow and gradually increase repetitions, sets and level of difficulty based on your condition and abilities.
You can do these leg exercises virtually anywhere and with no equipment at all. Yet despite its simplicity, this exercise will quickly develop your calf muscles and have you stepping quicker in your walking or running.
To do calf raises, place your hands on your hips and raise yourself up on your toes and then slowly lower yourself. Do 10-20 repetitions. After you’re able to perform 2 or 3 sets of 20, try doing them on a step or curb to increase the range of motion.
You can also try it with some hand weights to increase the benefits. You should not do this exercise to the point of exhausting the calf muscles.
Try to get 2-3 sets of a comfortable set of repetitions and repeat 3-4 times per week. It’s better to start slowly and add more to your repertoire than it is to exhaust yourself and take an extended time off.
Squats exercise your hamstrings (upper muscles on the forward-facing side of your leg); your quadriceps (upper muscles on the rear-facing side of your leg); along with your hip flexors, calf muscles and gluteals (buttocks).
Keep your back straight, hands at your side and slowly lower your weight by bending your knees. Raise yourself and exhale. Feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart. Keep your head upright and looking ahead, and make sure knees don’t go further forward than your toes as you lower yourself. At the point when you’re almost in a ‘seated’ position, raise yourself back up to the starting position.
As these get easier over time, you can add a weighted bar across your shoulders or do them on one leg (see next leg exercise).
One-legged squats are a very good exercise, especially if you’re unable to get to a weight room to do your regular lifting routine. You should only do one-legged squats if you no longer are feeling a benefit from the two-legged squats (above).
Lowering your body’s weight on just one leg can be challenging, but it’s sure to build your leg strength and balance. Make sure that you don’t lower yourself past the point where your upper leg is parallel with the floor – this can put undue strain on your knee and should be avoided.
Leg curls are a good hamstring exercise and can be done on a bench, couch, or even the floor. If you’re just starting out, try doing 2 or 3 sets of 20 repetitions with no weight. If this becomes too easy, try adding some ankle weights for added resistance.
Leg curls at the gym with weight plates can be a more effective leg exercise if you’re looking to add muscle mass to your hamstrings, but if you’re just looking to tone or add some leg strength to your walking or running, these are really easy to do and can be done almost anywhere!
Leg extensions work our quadriceps muscles. These are a good leg exercise for runners, walkers, and people that have experienced knee pain in the tendon around the knee cap. In strengthening our quadriceps, we can take some of the strain off our tendon.
To do this exercise, sit on a chair with your feet on the floor and your back straight. Raise your leg slowly to the point where it’s parallel to the floor and slowly lower. Try using ankle weights for more resistance.
As with the leg curls, these are a very convenient toning exercise that you can do almost anywhere.
While this is technically a foot exercise not a leg exercise, it’s a simple yet effective way to support the ligament that runs from your heel to the front pad of your foot.
By strengthening the muscles on the bottom of your foot, you’ll add some push-off force to your stride and reduce the chances of getting plantar fasciitis.
Toe curls are simply done by pulling your toes down as if to make a foot fist. Hold each down for 2-3 seconds and release. Start with 10-20 repetitions on each foot.
You can do these while lying in bed or watching TV, or even at your desk at work. Try adding toe curls to your daily calisthenics and your running times are likely to see a boost.
The above calisthenics are great ways to strengthen your legs, increase power for sports or activities, and reduce the chance of injuries by allowing your leg muscles to take some strain off the supporting tendons. Look at your activities and see which of these leg exercises can help benefit your routine.