Calisthenics leg workout

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Bodyweight training is great; it has so many advantages that it’s hard to understand why everybody is not doing this.
However, there is one area where calisthenics, also called bodyweight training, can be a bit problematic.  What I’m talking about is leg training.

So why is that?

Our legs in general are quite strong as we use them daily to carry our own weight for several hours. This is not the case with our arms, shoulders, chest etc. and therefore it’s easier to find challenging calisthenics exercises for these body parts than the legs.
However, don’t worry. In this article, we will look at how to deal with this problem. More precisely, we will look at which bodyweight exercises are good leg exercises and how to make a great calisthenics leg workout. Actually, not just one calisthenics leg workout but three of them, all separated in different levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Before we start I would like to point out that when we talk legs in this article I will include the glutes as well – some might not do that but I will as the glutes have a big and important part in any kind of squatting.

The exercises:

  • Squats – I have already mentioned squats. Squats should be the foundation in any calisthenics leg workout. An issue with squats is that we often don’t activate our glutes during the exercise. Therefore, make sure to squeeze your butt on the way up from the squat.squat
  • Lunges would be the next step after squats. Here, we add more weight onto the leg and there will be a lot of focus on the quadriceps (front site of the upper leg)lunges
  • Box Jumps/Long Jumps are plyometrics, meaning explosive, so we create power with these exercises – the complete leg will be addressed in these
  • One-legged bridge will focus on your core where the glutes are heavily
  • Wall-sit is an isometric hold and can be done with both legs or on one leg, which is really hard. Main focus will be the quadriceps and muscles around the knee. It’s therefore a very good support exercise for runners as
  • Bulgarin split squat can be used to prepare for pistols.Bulgarian split squat
  • Pistols is probably the hardest leg exercise without weights. Actually, the most difficult part is to stabilize on one leg all the way down and up again.pistols
  • Jump rope can be good to add to get some focus on the calfs as well.jump-rope
Of course, any activity where you move your legs will be qualified as leg exercises; therefore, any running, jumping, etc. will also be good.

Variation in each exercise

Changing exercise is not the only way to increase tension in the muscle and thereby progress. What we else can do is variate the way we do the exercise.
Slowing down the movement is a good way to make it harder. So for the squats, try to do them slowly like 5sec down and 5sec up. This will increase the time under tension and thereby stress the muscles more.
Isometric holds will fire all the muscle fibers at once in the position you hold. Often, the muscle will start to spasm, meaning you will start to shake. Reason for this is that muscle fibers simply turn on and off all the time as they are not strong enough to stay engaged all the time.
An example with squats is that you could hold the bottom position as long as possible or just do the wall-sit which is an isometric hold. If you want to know more I have an article dedicated to isometric leg exercises right here.
Plyometrics is explosive training. When applying this to our routine we will focus on power. For the squats and lunges, we could do then jumping, which are then called jumping squats and jumping lunges and makes them much harder.

Combine it

Variation is important for progression, so the trick is to combine the mentioned exercises and the way they are performed.
Of course we can just add more reps and rounds, but it’s much more efficient to mix up things as we then activate the different muscle fibers as well.

Calisthenics leg workout

Below, I have put together three examples of calisthenics leg workouts. They are divided into a beginner, intermediate and advanced level.
Do them 2-3 times a week and progress when it becomes too easy. But remember to train your complete body to get the best results. I have more workouts and complete workout routines you can check out here.

Beginner calisthenics leg workoutBeginner calisthenics leg workout

We focus on some of the basic exercises as we want to get strong in them before moving on.
If this is too hard, cut down on some of the reps.
A total of 5 rounds – rest 1min between exercises and 2min between rounds.
Round 1 & 3: Normal speed.
  • 20 Bodyweight squats
  • 10+10 One-legged bridges
  • 15+15 Lunges
Round 2 & 4:
  • Max Wall-sit with both legs
  • Max one-legged bridge hold (Alternate legs)
Round 5
  • Max Jumping Squats
  • Max Jumping Lunges
When you can hold Wall-sit in both rounds for more than 1 minute, move on to the next level.

Intermediate calisthenics leg workoutintermediate calisthenics leg workout

We keep some exercises from the beginner level but add more reps and introduce more advanced exercises as well.
A total of 5 rounds – rest 1min between exercises and 2min between rounds.
Round 1 & 3: Normal speed.
  • 15+15 One-legged bridges
  • 30 Bodyweight squats
  • 15+15 Bulgarian Split squats
Round 2 & 4:
  • Max Wall-sit with one leg
  • Max one-legged bridge hold (Alternate legs)
Round 5
  • Max Box Jumps or Jump Squats
  • Max Jump Rope
When you can hold the one-legged Wall-sit for more than 45 seconds, move on to the next level.

Advanced calisthenics leg workoutadvanced-calisthenics-leg-work

We keep some exercises from the intermediate level but add more reps and introduce more advanced exercises as well.
A total of 5 rounds – rest 1min between exercises and 2min between rounds.
Round 1 & 3: Normal speed.
  • 20+20 One-legged bridges
  • 40 Bodyweight squats
  • 8+8 Pistols
Round 2 & 4:
  • Max Wall-sit with one leg
  • Max Pistol hold (Bottom position – alternate legs)
Round 5
  • Max Box Jumps on higher box
  • Max Double Unders
Going forward, continue with mixing things up by adding more reps, longer holds, and more jumping exercises like jumping pistols etc.

Hope you found it useful. Please leave a comment and make sure to share.

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