Fitness Tip of the Week: Body-Weight Moves for Strong Legs

body-weight moves

Most people envision a barbell, weighted plates and a leg press when they think of a typical “leg day.” While I’m not dismissing the importance of using weights to build stronger legs, you don’t always need to rely on these staples, especially if you don’t have access to a gym or want to incorporate other training approaches to gain strength, break a fitness plateau and avoid overtraining.

Learn how to get stronger legs with alternatives such as body-weight moves. Add these moves to your typical leg routine or designate a separate day for these powerful exercises and watch how strong your legs can become!

Jump Lunges

This plyometric move can improve your strength, balance, power and speed as well as burn major calories. Before trying it, make sure that you can perform a standard lunge with good form. You can modify this move by decreasing your range of motion or eliminating high-impact altogether.

  • Start with your body positioned in a typical split squat or static lunge position. One leg will be bent behind you, and the other leg will be in front of you in a 90-degree angle.
  • Brace your core and explosively jump, pushing up with your back leg.
  • Switch leg positions in the air so your back foot will be in the front (and vice versa).
  • Remember to keep your front knee behind your toe in any lunge position and create a vertical movement to ensure proper form.

Broad jumps

  • This exercise is an incredibly effective strength builder that will translate into greater speed and power. You can modify this move by reducing the speed and the distance you jump. If you don’t have a lot of space to move, you can stick to squat jumps or simply turn around after a few reps to jump back to your starting position.
  • Slowly descend into a squat position, pulling your arms back with you as if you are pushing down a coil or slinky toy.
  • Explosively push up through your heels and midfoot, keeping your chest up and core engaged.
  • Jump as far forward as you can, to a distance at which you can safely land on your feet.
  • As you land, make sure you keep your knees bent and “land softly” to absorb the impact.

Side Lunges

  • This move is an effective way to isolate your leg muscles, build stronger glutes and thighs, and work a different plane of movement.
  • Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart in a straddle position.
  • Move side to side by starting to lean toward one side, keeping your knee in line with your toe as you descend into a one-legged squat. The other leg will be straight and stretched to enable you to get into this position.
  • As you get stronger, you can continually increase the range of motion by sitting back into the single-leg squat so your hamstring/glute area grazes your calf in the bottom of the movement.
  • Squeeze your glutes and press up through your foot to return to the standing position.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.