Exercises

20 Best Bodyweight Exercises For A Lower Body Workout

Lower body bodyweight exercises are really easy to do at home. And they’re perfect for getting in a strength workout that’s both functional and effective. 

You don’t need lots of equipment to be able to do them and they’re especially good if you do anything like running or play sports.  

Below, we go through our top 20 bodyweight exercises to work your lower body as well as your core. 

What are lower body exercises? 

Lower body exercises target your legs and glutes. The main muscles involved include: 

  • Glutes 
  • Hamstrings 
  • Quads 
  • Calves 

Strengthening these areas will not only improve your functional fitness levels, but they are also really important for preventing injury too. 

A lot of people can suffer from injuries if they have weak glutes and hamstrings. So, by targeting these areas, you can avoid difficulties when doing more intense forms of weightlifting. 

Are bodyweight exercises effective? 

Bodyweight exercises are extremely effective at allowing you to build muscle as well as improve your fitness levels.  

Some of the other benefits include: 

  • Improve speed and power – whether you’re a runner or simply want to improve your sprint PBs down at the gym, lower body exercises will help to increase your speed and power. And by strengthening your hamstrings and your glutes in particular, you can improve your explosivity. So, they’re great for overall performance. 
  • Injury prevention – as we mentioned above, weak hamstrings and glutes are a common problem. Lower body bodyweight exercises are functional, and you can isolate each side easily to avoid asymmetries. And by strengthening your lower body muscles in this way, you can avoid injury through strains. 
  • Convenient – when you’re not using much equipment to train, you have a lot more freedom in terms of when and where you work out. So, if you need to get some strengthening in but have a busy schedule or are travelling, these are perfect for fitting into your day. 
  • Great cardio – bodyweight exercises can be extremely challenging. For example, jumping squats, jumping lunges and lateral step-ups are all going to raise your heart rate as well as help you feel the burn. 

The ultimate lower body workout 

Below are our best bodyweight exercises for your lower body. They target your hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves. And we’ve also added in some core work to help give your legs a breather in-between sets.  

To keep things simple, the only equipment we’re just using a Mirafit Small Wooden Plyo Box and a PVC Exercise Mat. The plyo box will not only help you to keep things varied but it will also make your exercises more challenging. And the mat will cushion your joints when doing things like glute bridges and hip lifts.

  1. Sumo squats 
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. High knees 
  4. Jumping squats 
  5. Jumping lunges 
  6. Wall sits 
  7. Single leg squat  
  8. Bent knee side plank 
  9. Air squats
  10. Side leg raises 
  11. Donkey kicks 
  12. Hip lifts 
  13. Raised glute bridge 
  14. Single leg bridge  
  15. Bulgarian split squat  
  16. Plank jacks 
  17. Lateral step-ups
  18. Step up to reverse lunge 
  19. Fire hydrants 
  20. Box jumps 

How many reps should I do of each exercise? 

Depending on your current level of fitness, we’d recommend the following: 

Level 1: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest 

Level 2: 45 seconds on, 20 seconds rest 

Level 3: 1 minute on, 10 seconds rest 

Level 1 is suitable for beginners, level 2 for intermediates and level 3 for veterans.  

And if you’re looking for a real challenge, cycle these approaches into a full conditioning circuit.  

Start off with level 3, then after you have completed all the exercises, start again at level 2. And then finish off with level 1. 

Crossfit athlete sheena valentia performing mountain climbers exercise

Does bodyweight training burn fat? 

The short answer is yes.  

What you need to remember is, fat burning is linked to your heartrate. So, as long as your heartrate is at the right level, then you will be burning fat. You don’t necessarily need weights to burn fat – although this is the best and simplest way to challenge your workouts. But you do need to make sure that you’re doing enough to get your heartrate up, and that your workouts are evolving as your fitness levels go up. 

You also need to be aware that burning fat and burning calories are two different things. Burning calories is about burning short-term stores of sugar and carbohydrates. Whereas burning fat is about using up long-term stores of energy. 

Maximum heart rate = 220 – your age 

  • High heart rate (80-90% of your max heart rate) = calorie-burning zone
  • Mid heart rate (60-70% of your max heart rate) = fat burning zone 

Glute exercises 

To help you train your glutes, we’ve included some fantastic exercises to activate all three sections of your glute muscles (glute max, med and min): 

  • Fire hydrants 
  • Sumo squats 
  • Donkey kicks 
  • Glute bridge 

Hamstring exercises 

Hamstring exercises are great for runners and really important for including in your training programme. The plyo box is really helpful for targeting your hamstrings too. The most effective hamstring exercises are: 

  • Raised glute bridge 
  • Single leg bridge 
  • Box jumps 
Crossfit athlete sheena valentia performing a jumping squat exercise

Quad exercises 

There are plenty of exercises in this routine which will get your quads burning: 

  • Jumping squats  
  • Jumping lunges  
  • Wall sits  
  • Single leg squat   
  • Air squats  
  • Bulgarian split squat   
  • Lateral step ups  
  • Step up to reverse lunge  
  • Box jumps 

As you can see, you can get a full, lower body workout using just your bodyweight. And if you want to work your upper body too, check out our 20 best bodyweight exercises for upper body, here. 

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