Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Strong Legs No Equipment Required

Calisthenics leg workouts to get your legs strong and toned in the comfort of your own home. No equipment required.

Beth's 1 Week Meal Plan

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

meal plan thumbnail

Do you want a workout that will send you weak at the knees?

Probably not. Ha!

What if I said a workout that would give you super strong legs?

Getting a little more interesting?

How about, will help you get more defined legs?

Well, I’ve got workouts that are all three.

How about it? Up for the challenge?

I take no responsibility for you not being able to walk for a few days.

Calisthenics leg workouts to get your legs strong and toned all with bodyweight exercises. No equipment required.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: What is Calisthenics?

Just to recap, calisthenics is a form of strength training that uses just your own body weight and gravity to get you stronger, fitter and leaner.

It’s a great way of training.

Bodyweight training is so versatile and can be done anywhere.

Taking the kids to the park? Do a bodyweight workout.

Waiting for the kids to come out of their swimming lessons? Do a bodyweight workout.

Wherever you are you can do a bodyweight, calisthenics workout.

And bodyweight workouts you can really have fun with.

I love them. Don’t get me wrong, I love training with weights as well, but bodyweight workouts lend themselves to thinking outside of the box when it comes to exercise choice.

Let me explain, when you’ve got weight in your hand the exercise is tough enough, so we keep it simple and basic. Squats, lunges, whatever, it’s the standard variation.

But, when we go for bodyweight exercises, the world is our oyster. We’re going to make those leg muscles sing for their super.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: What are You legs Muscles?

What muscles should you be working in a leg workout? There's your quads, your hamstrings, your adductors and your shins and calves. But there's also your glutes and your hip flexors which aren't leg muscles but they work closely with your leg muscles.

Before we get on to the exercises, and then the workouts, I’m just going to touch on the muscles we’re going to be focusing on with these workouts.

It may be boring, but I think it’s important for you to know.

That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing, and if you want to change up the workout at all, you can substitute in exercises that work the same muscles.

So, you legs, they’re made up of four main muscle groups.

The quadriceps, these are on the front of your leg and would be what you refer to as your thigh. The quadriceps is a group of 4 muscles, I won’t go into the specifics of each muscle, because I don’t think you need to know that level.

They are a big muscle group, so they need to be worked. When they are worked they’ll reward you with lots of power and help kicking, jumping, running and walking.

The hamstrings, these are on the back of your leg, your thigh, but this time it’s a group of three muscles.

Your hamstrings are primarily responsible for extending your leg back and bending your knee.

Be careful when you’re training these muscles. They are prone to injury. Not because they’re weak, I don’t think that’s the case. I think people tend to go heavy, with certain exercises when they’re not really strong enough too.

Remember, you’re only as strong as your weakest muscle.

So, please don’t push yourself too far. This is where working with a personal trainer really can help. They can spot when you push yourself, and when it’s far enough. Before you go too far.

Ok, back to leg muscles….

Adductors, these are mainly the sides of your thighs. Their job is to adduct, move your legs to the sides. Mainly towards your middle, but also away from your body.

Side leg raises are great for working these muscles.

Lastly it’s shins and calves. These are obviously really important, but I’m not going to go into too much detail because generally these are going to be worked. Whether you’re doing squats, lunges, calf raises, leg raises, jump squats or sissy squats. These muscles will be worked.

There are some other groups of muscles that deserve a mention here, your glutes and your hip flexors.

They’re not technically considered your leg muscles, but they work closely with all of your leg muscles so it’s worth considering those in any workout you want to plan/do.

Your glutes, I’ve covered these a lot in my 4 week glute workout plan. They’re essential when it comes to walking and running, so really important to include with your legs, especially your quads.

Your hip flexors, bring the knee closer to the chest.


Before we go any further, I’m going to say what I always say...make sure you can do the following exercises with proper form before attempting them in a workout.

As with HIIT, strength training is demanding and we might be working with bodyweight exercises rather than with heavy weight, but the risk of injury is still high. So, please, make sure you can do all of these with good form.

If you can’t, or don’t want to work with a personal trainer locally, do get in touch. We can go through your form together.

So without any further ado, let’s get on with the exercises…

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Bodyweight Leg Exercises

So, before we go any further, there are lots of lower body calisthenics exercises and I’ll go into a few of them below. But, they all come into two basic categories, squats and lunges.

There are a few that fall outside of those two, but, mainly lower body exercises are either squats or lunges.

Do you need to do both?


Lunges and squats may work very similar muscles, but they do them in different ways. They hit your muscles from different angles. Lunges work your body unilaterally, that means they work one side at a time. This helps to balance up any weaknesses.

So, yeah, you need to do both.

Let’s look at the squats and squat variations first…

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Regular Squat

Regular squats are a basice exercise but they are very effective. If you do them properly. Here's how you do them with good form.

Also known as bodyweight squats or an air squat.

It might have different names, but, it’s probably the best known lower body exercise.

They work pretty much all of your lower body muscles, your glutes, your quads, your hamstrings, your adductors, your hip flexors and your calves. It’s why they’re so well used.

So, how do you do a squat properly?

Standing with your feet hip width apart, engage your core, and sink your bum back and down. Keep sinking until your your knees are bent to about 90-degrees and your thighs are roughly parallel with the ground.

Pause for a brief moment, return to a standing position by pushing through your heels.

A few key points, keep your chest lifted and your knees tracking over your feet. If your knees start to turn in your stance might be a little wide so try bringing your feet closer together. If it keeps happening, it could be that your legs need a bit more strengthening, or your joints aren’t flexible enough.

You could try strengthening your legs with lunges, before you move on to squats.

So now you know the basic move, let’s talk about some of the fun variations you can do.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian split squat is a great  uni-lateral exercise which means they're going to help balance up any weaknesses you may have.

I’ve put this one first, because it’s another one you could try if regular squats are proving a little difficult.

It’s a very similar motion to lunges, but your rear foot is on an elevated surface. Rather than both feet on the floor.

They work very similar muscles to squats, and lunges for the matter, and they do it in a unilateral way which means they’re going to help balance up any weaknesses.

How do you do them?

You will need a hard surface to put your foot on, it should be about knee height, so a coffee table, or chair would work well.

Standing with your feet hip-width apart in front of the table or chair, lift your right leg, resting your right foot on the table. Engage your core, bending your left knee, sink your right knee towards the floor, without actually touching it.

Return to a standing position by pushing through your front heel.

To make this a real strengthening move, slow it down. Sink down to a count of 3 and raise back up to a count of 3. You could go even slower.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Archer Squat

The archer squat is a bit of a different motion. It's side to side rather than up and down. It's great for working your adductors. Here's how to do them properly.

The archer squat is a little different. It’s a side to side motion rather than an up and down motion.

It’s a great one to work your inner things and get some mobility in your ankles.

How do you do them?

You have to take quite a wide stance, so feet over shoulder width apart. Engage your core and bend one knee, sinking over to that side and keeping the other leg straight and your chest as upright as possible.

You should feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh.

Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels. And repeat on the other side.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Jump Squat

The jump squat is more of a cardio exercise than a strength building one. But, combining strength and cardio in the same workout is a very effective way to train.

Jump squats are more of a cardio exercise, they’re done quickly. Up, down, up down. They get your heart rate up.

You might be wondering why I’m including a cardio exercise in, what will primarily be a strength workout. Well, combining strength and cardio in the same workout can help you lose weight faster, and you’ll get your workouts done faster.

So, that’s why jump squats are included here.

How to do them?

Jump squats are like regular squats but instead of returning to a standing position slowly by pushing through your heels, you jump up explosively and land in a lowered squat position.

Jumping can have an impact on your pelvic floor, so if you do have pelvic issues, stay away from jumps and speak to a pelvic floor physiotherapist.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Shrimp Squats

This may be a new on on you.

It’s a single-leg squat but it’s not quite as demanding as a pistol squat. So, if you’ve got designs on doing one-legged squats, this is a good practice version.

Being a one-legged it is a uni-lateral exercise so again it will help to even up any imbalances.

How do you do a shrimp squat?

Standing with your feet hip-width apart, engage your core and bend one leg up behind you, grasping your foot. Raise your other arm up in front of you, at shoulder height.

Bend your other knee, sinking your bum back and down behind you.

The knee on your raised leg should hover above the floor.

Now, I don't profess that all of the different variations of squats. It's not. Nowhere near. But, I don’t want to overwhelm you or make the workout too complicated.

Keeping things simple is the way forward when it comes to making life changes. So, let’s move on to the lunges…

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Forward Lunge

With the forward lunge we're back to the basics. But by no means easy. Here's how to do them properly.

Another basic exercise, but such a good one to have in your arsenal.

Lunges are great for working all of the muscles in your lower body, improving your balance, your hip flexibility and your core stability.

They work your muscles in slightly different ways to squats, it’s a different movement, so it’s definitely worth doing both lunges and squats.

How do you do them?

Standing with your feet hip-width apart, engage your core and take a large step forward, bending your front knee as you do.

Your back knee should hover above the floor.

Return to the starting position by pushing through your front foot. Repeat on the other side.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Reverse Lunge

Wait, aren’t these going to be very similar to forward lunges?

Well, yes. And no.

Reverse lunges will work the same muscles as forward lunges, but, the movement is actually more stable and less ouchy on the knees.

With a forward lunge you’re stepping forward with your whole foot, and your leg is very briefly straight. That can be quite jarring for the knees. There’s nothing there to cushion the blow from that impact with the floor.

All of this is very slight and very quick, so it’s unlikely to cause an issue with your knees if you haven’t already got one. But, if you have got one, it could be quite painful.

The other issue with forward lunges is, as you take that step forward, your back heel lifts off the floor almost immediately. So, for a part of the exercise the only base you have touching the floor are your toes on your back foot.

Again, if you have issues with balance you could find forward lunges quite difficult.

If you do, substitute in reverse lunges until you feel a bit stronger.

How do you do a reverse lunge?

It’s a very similar motion to a forward lunge, but instead of steeping forward you’re taking a big step back.

So again, standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your side, engage your core and take a big step back.

As you do, bend your front knee and sink down so that your back knee almost, but not quite, touches the floor.

Return to standing by pushing through the toes on your back foot and straightening your knee.

You can bring your arms up in front of you as you step back and down. This will act as a bit of a counterbalance if you’re a bit wobbly.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Walking Lunge

Like the jump squat is this done quickly and will get your heart rate up. Actually they’ll all probably get your heart rate up, but with this movement we’ll be getting the cardio system involved.

It’s a forward lunge, but instead of returning to a standing position, you’ll push through your back toes and your back leg will come through and take the next step forward.

If I have trouble with my knees can I do the walking lunge backward?

I can’t say I’ve ever tried to walk lunge backward, I might give it a go today, but I don’t see why not.

It might take a bit more co-ordination and make sure the area is clear before you start lunging, but it should be fine.

If any of these exercises feel a bit tough for you at the moment, maybe you’re suffering with knee pain, your legs just aren’t strong enough, or your balance is a bit off, then start with leg raises.

They are a great exercise to strengthen your legs if squats and lunges are out for now.

But, keep trying with these exercises. It’s always good to acknowledge exactly where you are and what your body can do at this moment in time, but don’t put yourself in a ‘I can’t do squats box’. The strength will come. Keep trying.

Ok, onto the workouts…

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Leg Day Workout

Workout 1: Strength and Cardio

The first calisthenic leg workout combines strength and cardio a great way to train.

This one will get your legs burning. You’ll be using the same muscles so they will fatigue. But, it’s a great way to build strength.

If you don’t think you can make the full 20 rounds, cut them down. Start with 5 and see how you get on. I bet you’ll find it tough, but it will be doable. You might even kick yourself afterwards for not doing it all.

So, you’re going to have a strength exercise and a cardio exercise. Do the first one for 10 reps and the second one for 20 seconds. It should take you about 30 seconds in total for a five minute round. Rest where you need to.

  • Regular squat/Jump Squats
  • Forward lunges/Walking lunges
  • Archer squat/Mountain Climbers

Workout 2: All About Strength

Calisthenics leg day workout 2 is a simple strength workout. 8 - 15 reps for three rounds.

For this one, we’re going to keep it simple. A straight up strength building workout. Each exercise 8-15 reps, three rounds and then move on to the next exercise. Rest for 90 seconds between rounds.

It should feel tough, if you’re getting through 15 reps and you don’t feel like you need the rest, then try a harder version or move on to the next workout.

  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Shrimp Squat

Workout 3: Super Strong

Get super strong with bodyweight leg workout 3. Slow each exercise right down, so do each phase for a count of 3-6.

This workout is designed to get you super strong legs. It’s the progression from workout 2. So, when you get to 15 reps of each exercise for 3 rounds and it feels fairly comfortable then move on to this workout.

You can add all three workouts to your routine, obviously you will need an upper body workout in there as well.

This time we’re going to slow everything down.

I love slowing things down. Clients think it’s going to make the exercise easier. It won’t get your heart rate up.

They’re always surprised.

Each phase of the exercise you’ll do for a count of 3-6. You can start with a count of 3 and work up to a count of 6.

So with squats, down for a count of 3, hold at the bottom for a count of 3 and up for a count of 3. Straight into the next rep.

We’re aiming for 3-5 reps of each exercise for 5 rounds. Rest 90 seconds between each round.

  • Squats
  • Archer squats
  • Shrimp Squat
  • Forward lunge. Start the count after you’ve taken the step forward.

Calisthenics Leg Workouts: Let’s Get Strong Legs

Whichever calisthenics leg workout you choose, or maybe you’ll try all three, there’s no doubt you’ll have stronger and more toned legs because of them.

Make sure you challenge yourself, but don’t push yourself too hard.

Take rest where you need, and recover properly.

If you’ve enjoyed these workouts and you want more, join the Mamas that Move VIP club.

You’ll get exclusive workouts, tips, tricks and advice delivered straight into your inbox.

No more searching the web for hours to find a workout to help you reach your goals. You’ll have them delivered straight to you.

Get Your Ultimate Free Eight Week HIIT Workout Plan

Get fitter, stronger and leaner in just eight weeks with my printable HIIT workout Plan. Just 30 minutes a day is all you need. 

Want to know more before you sign up?

Check out Printable HIIT Workout Plan to learn all about the plan, what's involved and why you should get it. 

You might like these