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The Best Leg Workouts At Home to Build Muscle

The Best Leg Workouts At Home to Build Muscle

If you want to know what the best leg workouts at home to build muscle and strength, then you want to read this article.

We’ve all heard the popular axiom “never skip leg day.”


Despite the importance of training legs, few individuals train their legs and an even smaller percentage of gym rats train them as hard as they should.


By and large, this is due to the fact that training legs is hard. 


You see, the legs are comprised of multiple muscles that can handle a lot of weight and relatively high amounts of volume, which means a simple 3x8 or 5x5 rep scheme isn’t going to be enough to produce significant gains in size or strength.


Another reason people don’t train their legs enough or with sufficient effort is due to a lack of time. Not everyone has the ability to devote 60-90 minutes one to two times per week to effectively train their legs at the gym, let alone the added time it takes to drive there, change clothes, warm-up, wait for the machine to be available, cool down, shower, change clothes again, and drive back to the office or home.


That’s where this article comes in.


In this article, we’ll show you how to get an incredible leg workout at home regardless of what equipment you may or may not have access to in your house.

 


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First, let’s clear up a common misconception regarding leg training.

Can You Build Big Legs at Home?

Absolutely!


You’ve likely heard that if you want to build big legs, you have to squat heavy weight for high reps (a la 20-rep squat protocols).


And, make no mistake, that is a surefire way to build an impressive set of wheels.


However, it’s not the only way to build great legs.


For starters, depending on your anatomy and anthropometry, squatting with a bar on your back may not be an ideal exercise for you, or you may be one of those people who tends to feel squats more in their glutes and hamstrings, with little quad activation at all. 


Or, you may also be someone who has some previous injuries, low back pain, or achy joints.


If you fit into any one of these categories, then squats won’t magically make your legs blow up.


Now, don’t get us wrong, training with free weights (barbells, dumbbells, etc.) and machines can be a very effective and efficient way to build muscle and gain strength...but it’s not the only way.


All that is required to build muscle is to subject your muscles to sufficient levels of mechanical tension and/or metabolic stress (two primary drivers of muscle hypertrophy). 


Generally speaking, the easiest way to increase mechanical tension is by adding weight to the bar, which is why many believe that the “best” way to build muscle is from lifting heavy weights for high reps.


But, it is still possible to create sufficient overload without using barbells and machines. You just need to be willing to get a little creative with your training.

How to Build Muscle with Leg Workouts at Home

Embrace Unilateral Training

Unilateral exercises are ones in which you train one side of your body at a time. The reason unilateral training is ideal for leg workouts at home is that you can effectively double the amount of work you’re doing by only working one leg at a time.


For instance, let’s say that you typically squat 225lbs for 10 reps.


That means that each leg is (roughly) lifting 112.5 pounds.


If you were to perform a unilateral or one-legged squat (a.k.a. Bulgarian split squat), you would only need access to 50-60 pound dumbbells to simulate a similar amount of loading on the legs.


Most serious trainees (as well as hotel gyms) have dumbbells that go up to 50-60 pounds. Anything above that is icing on the cake.


Here, we can see one of the prime benefits of unilateral training -- you can get more from less weight. What this means is that you subject your joints, ligaments, and connective tissue to less wear and tear. Plus, since you don’t have a bar on your back, your lower back doesn’t take a beating, which reduces the risk of injury and eliminates the possibility of your lower back being the limiting factor in your squat performance.


Lighter weights are also easier to recover from a CNS-standpoint, meaning you can train more frequently, thereby completing more work and making more gains.


Unilateral training also helps develop balance, coordination, and stability.


Plus, for many individuals, the first time they perform a one-legged squat, they won’t need any additional weight at all due to the novelty.


As you progress, you’ll likely need to add some form of external loading, but when you’re training on one leg, it’ll always be less than what is required if you were to perform bilateral leg exercises at home.

Chase the Burn

If you like to perform leg workouts at home, the Bulgarian split squat will likely become one of your prime exercises for inducing tension overload.


Now, if you’re looking to chase more metabolic stress in your workouts, you can do that with high-rep Bulgarian split squats (which would be a nightmare and quite painful), or you could do it by stringing several lower body exercises together in a superset, tri-set, or giant sets.


Performing two, three, or four bodyweight leg exercises back-to-back will induce high levels of muscular fatigue and create substantial amounts of metabolic stress. In other words, get ready to feel the burn when you’re performing leg workouts at home.


Some of our favorite at-home lower body circuits to perform when chasing metabolic stress are super setting reverse lunges with squat jumps or step-ups with reverse lunges.

Don’t Forget About Hamstrings and Glutes

So often when we discuss leg training, we focus on how to build bigger quads. But, developing strong hamstrings and glutes is just as vital to your lower body development and quite possibly even more important for preserving knee health and reducing risk of injury.


When we overemphasize the quads to the detriment of the glutes and hamstrings, we create a severe muscle imbalance between the front and back sides of our legs that can lead to injuries, typically around the knee.


Fortunately, most compound lower body exercises (lunges, reverse lunges, etc.) train the glutes and hamstrings to some degree, but for an even greater training effect, we’ll include some specific exercises to target the backside of the legs.


Our favorite bodyweight hamstring exercises to perform at home are the sliding leg curl, single-leg hip thrust, and glute-ham raise.


We’ve previously given out our top 10 best glute exercises before, so click over to that article for all the details.


If you’re only used to performing leg curls or deadlifts for your hamstrings, get ready for a whole other level of burn with these exercises!


Now, let’s get to the best leg workouts at home for building muscle and strength.

The Best Leg Workouts At Home

We’ve come up with three phenomenal leg workouts that you can perform at home to build muscle, improve athleticism, and gain strength.


Each workout is tailored to accommodate a specific equipment set up from no equipment to the individual who has a complete power rack and dumbbell set in their garage.

Bodyweight Leg Workout at Home


Exercise

Sets

Reps

Skater Squat

3

10-15 / leg

Bulgarian Split Squats (1.5-rep style)

3

6-12 / leg

Deficit Reverse Lunges*

3

8-10 / leg

Sliding Leg Curls

3

10-15

Single Leg Calf Raise**

3

AMRAP

*Note: Perform all reps on one side before switching to the other

**Note: If possible, perform on a step or ledge to increase range of motion

Bodyweight Leg Workout at Home #2

The first bodyweight leg workout was focused on maximizing mechanical tension on your muscles. This workout focuses on creating massive amounts of metabolic stress.


You’ll perform the exercises listed below in a circuit or giant set-fashion moving from one to the next with as little rest as possible between individual movements. When the entire circuit is complete, rest for 1-2 minutes and then repeat for a total of 3-5 rounds depending on your level of fitness and time available.

  • Alternating Reverse Lunge - 10 reps per leg
  • Plyometric Jumping Lunges -  10 reps per leg
  • Jump Squats - 20 reps
  • Single Leg Heel Elevated Hip Thrust - 10 reps per leg

Dumbbell Leg Workout at Home


Exercise

Sets

Reps

Bulgarian Split Squats

4

6-12 / leg

Stability Ball Hamstring Curl*

3

10-15

Step-Ups

3

10-15 / leg

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3-sec eccentric)

3

8-12

Single-leg Calf Raise (holding dumbbells in hands)

3

15-20 / leg

*Note: If you do not have a stability ball, place a towel under your feet and perform a bodyweight hamstring curl on the floor.

Barbell & Dumbbell Leg Workout at Home


Exercise

Sets

Reps

Barbell Squats (front or back)

4

10

Romanian Deadlift (barbell or dumbbell)

3

8-10

Heels Elevated Goblet Squats

2

12-15

Sliding Leg Curl

2

10-15

Standing Calf Raise

3

15-20

Bodyweight Walking Lunges*

1

80-100 reps

*Note: You will perform one set of 80-100 bodyweight walking lunges. Likely, you will not be able to perform all repetitions in one go. That’s ok. Use rest-pauses where needed until you complete all reps. And, by the way, that’s 80-100 reps PER LEG.


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