Building leg muscles without weights can be done through 6 effective exercises: squats, jump squats, lunges, chair exercises, step-ups on a chair, and pistol squats. Recommended workout includes 4 sets of each exercise, 3 times a week, adjusted to fitness level. For those with bad knees, 8 low-impact leg exercises can be done with doctor’s approval, including straight leg raises, hamstring curls, wall squats, calf raises, and more. Gradual increase and doctor’s consultation advised for knee health.
Building leg muscles without weights may seem challenging, but it can be done with proper techniques and exercises. Here you can find 6 leg exercises that you can do at home or anywhere else and if it happens that you have bad knees, don’t worry we got you covered ! You can also find 8 recommended leg exercises that have little impact on the knees and can be done with doctor’s approval.
How to build leg muscles without weights? 6 Leg Exercises without equipment
- Stand upright, spread your feet a little wider than the width of your pelvis with your feet open slightly outwards (ducking).
- Bend your legs as much as possible with your buttocks backwards while keeping your heels on the ground.
- Look straight ahead. Exhale as you come up.
- Do 4 sets of 15 squats.
2. Jumping squats
- Do the same movement while jumping.
- Do 4 sets of 12 jumping squats.
3. Forward Lunges
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step forward and put your foot flat and your knee on the ground.
- Stay straight with your abdominal muscles contracted.
- Push yourself back while exhaling and return the feet on the same line.
- Follow with the other leg.
- Do 4 sets of 14 alternating front lunges.
4. Wall Squats
- Stand with your back to a wall, knees at a 90° angle.
- Feet flat on the ground and back pressed against the wall with the abdominal muscles well drawn in and contracted.
- Hold the position.
- Do 4 series of 45 seconds.
5. Step-ups on a chair
- Stand in front of a chair.
- Step up on the chair and then down.
- Keep your abdominal muscles contracted during the exercise.
- Do 3 sets of 20 alternating step-ups.
6. Pistols squats
The pistol is a squat on one leg. Performing a pistol squat is quite difficult. We recommend that you start practicing with a chair behind you.
- Sit down and stand up from the chair with one foot off the ground, the heel of the supporting leg firmly on the floor.
- Next, you can stand in a doorway or on a pole when you get more practice.
- Start by doing a half-pistol, which means the thigh of the supporting leg is parallel to the ground, and then you can gradually increase the range of motion.
- Try to push hard on the supporting leg without using your arms too much for the ascent.
- Do 3 series of 10 alternating pistols.
Summary of the workout :
- 4 sets of 15 squats
- 4 sets of 12 jump squats
- 4 sets of 14 alternating front lunges
- 4 sets of 45 second chair presses
- 3 sets of 20 alternating step-ups
- 3 sets of 10 alternating pistols
Take a 30-45 second break between each set and 1 minute when changing exercises.
Depending on your level you can either add or reduce the number of reps and recovery time.
This is not an exhaustive list of exercises to build thighs. There are many others. Don’t hesitate to vary the exercises and the range of motion from one session to the next and to add repetitions and reduce the time of rest to progress more quickly.
To build up your thighs quickly, do this session 3 times a week. You will have very good results quickly if you combine this program with a healthy and balanced diet. To simplify the session, if it is too difficult, do fewer repetitions. Progress will come with regularity and diligence in your sports practice.
Leg workouts for guys with bad knees
Is It Safe for Me to Exercise?
Concerned that exercise may worsen your knee pain? With doctor’s approval, the key to improving knee health is to strengthen and maintain flexibility in the supporting muscles. Gradually increase intensity and consult your doctor on recommended exercises for your specific needs.
How to Warm Up
Get the most out of your workout, lower injury risk, and prepare for stretching with a 5-minute stationary bike ride, a 2-minute brisk walk with arm pumping, or 15-20 wall push-ups followed by calf raises.
Things you shouldn’t do if you have bad knees
Exercise shouldn’t increase pain. Soreness after exercise is common, but sudden or sharp pain in muscles or joints signals to stop and consult a doctor.
Gentle exercise is best for avoiding pain or injury. Avoid high-impact activities like running or intense aerobics. Choose low-impact options like elliptical machines, swimming, water jogging, or water aerobics that feel comfortable for you. Again, always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.
8 Leg exercises for guys with bad knees :
1. Straight Leg Raises
If you’re looking to strengthen your knee, start with simple quadricep exercises. Lie on your back with one foot flat on the floor, raise the other leg straight to knee height and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets. This exercise has little impact on the knee.
2. Hamstring Curls
Strengthen your hamstrings by lying on your stomach and bringing your heels towards your butt. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Alternatively, stand and hold onto a chair while lifting one leg at a time. To progress, add ankle weights starting from 1 pound and gradually increasing to 5 pounds.
3. Prone Straight Leg Raises
Laying on your stomach with straight legs, tighten the glutes and hamstring of one leg, lift it towards the ceiling, hold for 3-5 secs, lower and repeat 10-15 times before switching sides. You can add ankle weights as you progress. If you experience back pain, reduce the height of the lift and if it persists, consult with your doctor.
4. Wall Squats
Advance exercise: Stand facing a wall with feet shoulder-width apart, slowly bend knees while keeping back and pelvis against the wall. Hold for 5-10 sec. Gradually increase the hold time. If discomfort or pressure in the knees is felt, adjust position. Don’t bend too deeply
5. Calf Raises
Stand facing away from a sturdy chair, couch back, wall bar, or banister with heels hanging off the edge of a step. Slowly raise your heels as high as possible, then lower. Repeat 10-15 times for three sets. As you progress, shift all your weight to one foot and lift the other slightly off the floor.
Stand with one foot on a bench, platform, or stair step. Keep your hips level as you bend your knee and gently lower the opposite foot towards the floor, tapping your toe and then rising back up. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs. Want more of a challenge? Use a higher step or touch your heel instead of your toe.
7. Side Leg Raises
Lie on one side with both legs stacked. Bend the lower leg to support yourself. Then, straighten the top leg and lift it to a 45-degree angle. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and rest briefly, repeat 10-15 times. Switch sides and repeat. To add variation, point the toes of your raised leg slightly toward the floor while performing the exercise.
8. Leg Presses
Using a leg-press machine, sit with your back and head against the support, and feet flat on the foot plate. Ensure the seat back is adjusted for comfort. Gradually press the plate away from you until your legs are straight, then bend your knees to return to the starting position. Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 10-15 reps. Seek help from a gym staff member when attempting this exercise for the first time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often leg workouts for men?
We recommend doing 2 to 3 sessions per week with a day of rest between each session. Regarding the session itself, ideally perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per exercise with a 60 second break in between.
2. Should I do deadlifts on leg day?
The deadlift, in a leg or back session? Doing only one exercise for the quadriceps and not doing any hamstring exercise, well it’s not optimal, so much as doing a full body if it’s to do one exercise per muscle.
3. What workout to do after leg day?
You choose to put aside the legs to focus on the upper body. In this case, for the first session, you can combine pectorals, back and abs. After a few days of rest, you can resume by working the arms, shoulders and abs.
4. What happens if you don’t train legs?
Not doing leg workouts won’t turn muscle into fat, but over time, your muscle cells can shrink and fat cells grow, leading to a less fit and muscular appearance. It also creates imbalance with the upper body which can later result in knee problems as you gain mass on the upper side but not enough on your legs to support it.
5. Why do people hate leg day?
Because there are so many muscles in the legs and they are so hard to grow. You need to push through the pain of doing lots of reps, and that not all the people can do and enjoy.
6. Why are leg days so hard?
The first reason given is often fatigue and pain. Indeed, working the legs is probably the most exhausting part of bodybuilding. They are big muscles, they require a lot of energy and, generally, it hurts.
7. How to make leg day more enjoyable?
Do it in the morning if you can as it can be a great achievement to set the day. Put your favorite music and choose the exercises you’re mostly comfortable doing. Get an exercise buddy who can motivate you more. Instead of hating leg day, think of it as an opportunity to push yourself more than ever.
8. Leg day on monday?
Monday being designated as leg day has a simple logic. Legs being the largest muscle group sets the foundation for the rest of the muscles. Training smaller muscles first can weaken them, hindering the strength needed for larger muscle groups.
9. Why should i workout my legs
It has been scientifically proven that the muscular and nervous stress induced by a leg workout significantly increases the natural production of testosterone and growth hormone. When hormone levels are at their peak, muscle growth is maximal. If you constantly avoid training your legs, you lose a great deal of ability to gain muscle.