Exercise Spotlight: Leg Workouts You Can Do at Home
Getting to the gym regularly can be time-consuming, and it’s easy to lose motivation. And when you know it’s leg day? Forget it! Luckily, there are plenty of leg exercises you can do at home, no special equipment required — because we all know leaving the house is the biggest obstacle between you and the gym.
Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps for each of these exercises, and you’ll have completed a full leg workout without even leaving your living room.
When doing lunges, stand up straight with your toes pointing forward and your feet slightly apart. Step forward with your right leg, heel hitting the ground first. Both your right and left legs should form roughly 90 degree angles, with your right knee facing forward, and your left knee almost touching the ground. While your right foot should be securely planted on the ground, your left heel should be off the ground. Put the majority of your weight on the right leg. Both knees should be just behind your toes. If your right knee is leaning over your toes, you need to take a larger step forward. Hold the position for a few seconds, keeping your torso straight.
Push up with your right leg, returning it to the starting position so both feet are side-by-side. Lunge with your left leg. Keep alternating until you’ve completed your set (make sure to make it an even number so each leg gets equal attention). Once you feel comfortable doing lunges, you may also want to add a light weight to each hand for added resistance. Weights can be purchased at sporting goods stores or some retail stores. You can also use items you already have at home such as soup cans or full water bottles.
Side lunges start similarly to regular lunges. You will stand with both feet straight ahead, slightly apart. Instead of stepping forward, step with your right leg to your right side, bending your right knee. Both feet should be firmly on the ground, and your torso should be leaning to your right side with your knee just above your toes after you have lunged to your right. Your right foot might tilt slightly outward. Push upward with your right leg, returning to your starting position. Do a side lunge to your left. Again, make sure to do an equal number of reps on each leg!
While squats at the gym are often done using a barbell, no exercise equipment is required to do a squat. To do one at home, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes facing slightly outward. Some people like to put their arms out straight in front of them with the palms facing down, but you can also do squats with your arms pulled in close to your body.
Bend your knees over your feet while keeping your back straight. Your thighs should come lower than parallel with the ground to make it a full squat. Hold the position for a few seconds. Then stand up. While your behind should stick out when you are doing squats properly, your back should not curve, and you should not hunch.
You can add weight to this one as well, simply by holding a heavy book or other object to your chest while squatting.
While lunges and squats mostly work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and other upper leg and core muscles, calf raises are going to work mostly your calves and lower leg muscles. Calf raises are often done on the edge of a step or using a small step aerobics platform or other object which raises you slightly off the ground. They can also be done on level ground, but you will not get as much of a stretch.
Stand on the edge of the step or platform. Rise up, raising your heels above the step or platform until you are standing on your tiptoes. Hold this position for a few seconds. Slowly lower your heels. If you are standing on level ground, lower them until they reach the ground. Otherwise, lower your heels slightly below the step or platform. Hold this for a few seconds. Then repeat the exercise. Calf raises should be done slowly and should not be a jumpy up and down motion. You can use a wall, chair, or other object to hold onto for stability.
Of course, there are many other great exercises for your legs. Adding weights, either purchased or homemade, as well as combining exercises can help you get the most out of your leg workout. No more excuses for skipping leg day!