Many people don’t like training legs even when they have access to a squat rack and weightlifting machines. 

In other words, when conditions are perfect. 

Leg workouts at home, though? Sounds about as much fun as licking the inside of Satan’s septic tank.

Plus, how effective can at-home leg workouts really be when you’re limited to your body weight and some rubber bands? And even if you have some dumbbells too, can that make much of a difference?

Well, while at-home leg workouts can’t hold a candle to heavy squats for gaining muscle and strength, you absolutely can gain (or at least maintain) muscle only using bodyweight exercises like squats, step-ups, and lunges. And you can make your workouts even more effective if you manage to scrounge some bands or dumbbells. 

This article will show you the way. In it, you’ll find the three best at-home leg workouts you can do with your bodyweight, dumbbells, or exercise bands.

Let’s get started.

My Top 5 At-Home Leg Workout Tips

Before we get into the workout routines themselves, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your training.

  1. Start each workout with squats, but don’t neglect the other exercises. You want to train all of the major leg muscle groups including your thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and doing a variety of exercises is the best way to do this. 
  2. Make your workouts harder over time. If you’re doing bodyweight workouts, add reps to each set until you’re doing at least 20 reps per set for an exercise, and then switch to a more challenging variation of that exercise. If you’re doing band or dumbbell workouts, make your workouts more challenging by using slightly thicker bands or heavier weights over time.
  3. Do one-to-three at-home leg workouts per week. If your main goal is to maintain your leg muscle and strength, you can get by with just one leg workout per week. If you want to gain muscle and strength, you’ll want to do two-to-three leg workouts per week.
  4. Buy exercise bands or dumbbells if you plan on doing leg workouts at home for more than a month. You can maintain your leg muscle and strength using bodyweight exercises alone for a month or so, but unless you’re brand new to resistance training, you’ll begin to regress if you go much longer than this without external resistance (bands or dumbbells).
  5. Alternate exercises for different muscle groups (“superset”) to finish your workouts faster. For example, after knocking out a set of glute bridges, rest a minute or two, then do a set of calf raises. Alternate between the two exercises in this way until you’re finished with all of your sets for both exercises.

And finally, do try to get back in the gym as soon as you can if you want to make faster progress in your fitness.

While you can gain muscle and strength by doing leg workouts at home, you’ll gain a lot more if you can train with barbells and a few machines (unless you have a proper home gym setup, that is). So, think of at-home workouts as an effective stopgap until you can get back to the iron. 

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At-Home Leg Workout with Bodyweight

Bodyweight At-Home Leg Workout
Images Exercise  Sets Reps Rest (min)
Before | After Bodyweight Squat 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Bodyweight Glute Bridge 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Bodyweight Calf Raise 3 10 to 20 2

Bodyweight Squat: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Bodyweight Squat


Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, point your toes out to the side at about a 45-degree angle, raise your chest, and sit down. Remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep. 

You can either clasp your hands together in a “prayer” position, cross your arms in front of your chest, or push them straight out in front of you—whatever feels most comfortable.  

Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat


Stand about two to three feet in front of a bench, couch, or set of stairs. With your right foot (and heel in particular) firmly planted, place the top of your left foot on the surface behind you. 

Look at a spot on the floor six to ten feet in front of you, and lower your butt toward the floor by bending at your right knee. Keep lowering yourself until your right thigh is roughly parallel with the floor. Then, stand up and return to the starting position.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Bodyweight Glute Bridge


Lie on your back on the floor and place your heels about a foot from your butt. Lift your butt off the floor by pressing your shoulders and heels into the floor. 

Raise your butt and squeeze your glutes until your butt, hips, and knees form a straight line, and then lower your butt back to the starting position.

Bodyweight Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Bodyweight Calf Raise


Place the balls of your feet on the edge of a surface about three to six inches off the floor (a flight of stairs works well), and place your hand on something nearby (like a wall or railing) to maintain your balance. 

Then, raise your heels (and body) until your insteps are nearly parallel with your shins, lower your heels, and return to the starting position. 

At-Home Leg Workout with Dumbbells

Dumbbell At-Home Leg Workout
Image Exercise  Sets Reps Rest (min)
Before | After Dumbbell Goblet Squat 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Dumbbell Lunge 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Dumbbell Step-Up 3 10 to 20 2

Dumbbell Goblet Squat: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Dumbbell Goblet Squat


Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, point your toes out to the side at about a 45-degree angle, raise your chest, and sit down. Remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep. 

Tip: You can use kettlebells instead of dumbbells for all of the exercises in this workout!

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift


Hold a dumbbell in each hand. With a flat back (no rounding!), lower the weights toward the floor in a straight line, allowing your butt to move backward as you descend.

Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, bend your knees slightly more, and continue lowering the weights until your lower back begins to round—just below the knees for most people, and about mid-shin for those who are particularly flexible. Then return to the starting position. 

Dumbbell Lunge: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Dumbbell Lunge


Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand up straight with both feet about shoulder-width apart. Take a long step forward with your right foot—about two to three feet. With most of your weight on your front foot, kneel down until your left knee touches the floor. 

Then, reverse the motion by pushing off the floor with your front foot and leaning slightly backward, allowing your legs to straighten. Once you’re standing, bring your right foot back to the starting position. 

Dumbbell Step-Up: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Dumbbell Step-Up


Holding a dumbbell in each hand, place your right foot on a box, stool, or other surface about knee-height off the floor. Keeping your weight on your right foot, fully straighten your right leg. Then, lower your left foot toward the floor, and return to the starting position.

At-Home Leg Workout with Exercise Bands

Exercise Band At-Home Leg Workout
Image Exercise  Sets Reps Rest (min)
Before | After Banded Squat 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Banded Single Leg Squat 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Banded Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift 3 10 to 20 2
Before | After Banded Glute-Bridge 3 10 to 20 2

Banded Squat: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Banded Squat


Stand on an exercise band so that it’s under the middle of both feet. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and point your toes out to the side at about a 45-degree angle. Bend over, grab the loose end of the exercise band, and pull it over your shoulders (you may need to bend over if it’s a strong resistance band), holding it in place with your hands.

Once you’re standing up with the resistance band pulling on your shoulders, straighten your back and sit down. Remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep. 

Banded Single Leg Squat: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Banded Single Leg Squat


Place your right foot on an exercise band so that it lies under the middle of your foot. Bend over, grab the loose end of the exercise band, and pull it over your shoulders (you may need to bend over if it’s a strong resistance band), holding it in place with your hands.

Take a big step back with your left foot so that the ball of your foot is resting on the ground. Lower yourself until your right thigh is roughly parallel with the floor. Then, stand up and return to the starting position.

Banded Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Banded Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift


Place your right foot on an exercise band so that it lies under the middle of your foot. Bend over and grab the loose end of the exercise band in both hands.

Keeping a slight bend in your right knee, lean forward, extending your left leg behind you and bringing your chest closer to the ground. Once you start to feel a stretch in your hamstrings and your back is almost parallel with the floor, contract your glutes and return to the starting position.

Banded Glute-Bridge: 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps


Banded Glute-Bridge


 

Wrap an exercise band around your thighs so that it rests about two to three inches above your kneecaps. Lie on your back on the floor and place your heels about a foot from your butt. Lift your butt off the floor by pressing your shoulders and heels into the floor. 

Raise your butt and squeeze your glutes until your butt, hips, and knees form a straight line, and then lower your butt back to the starting position.

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