You’ve probably seen it a thousand times. The guy walking down the street, his arms huge and his neck larger than his head. But then you keep looking down his physique and realize his legs are thinner than twigs.
Obviously, he skips leg day.
You can’t be the person who skips leg day.
Not only is having a strong lower body essential to nearly everything you do, but you burn more calories with lower bodywork thanks to the sheer size of the muscles. If you workout at home, you may assume you can’t squeeze out the same kind of quality leg workout at the gym since you probably don’t have hundreds on hundreds of pounds of weight.
Thankfully, you don’t need all of that for a great leg workout.
We’ve got the lifts, the moves and the answers to your at home leg workouts for mass.
So keep on reading to find out more!
Going Smaller With Your Weight
Before we get into individual moves to perform, we need to cover the giant elephant in the room. Or at least, the very small elephant: lack of weight to use. When you go to the gym, you have access to all the weight in the world. With some leg lifts, you don’t need a ton of weight.
For others, like a deadlift, squat, leg press and others you may need hundreds on hundreds of pounds of weight. If you’re working out at home, chances are you don’t have this.
So how can you have a great leg workout without the massive weight?
It’s more than possible if you temper your expectations.
It’s true, you’ll probably never be an Olympic lifter if you don’t have all the weight. You need to build your strength. However, you can still lift your booty, increase the size of your quads and improve the strength of your hamstrings with less weight. It becomes more about technique though. Basically, it comes down to lifting slow. You might only have two 40 pound dumbbells to use. Squatting with 80 pounds probably doesn’t come close to what you do at the gym. Lifting slowly though puts a different, continual strain on your muscles.
Instead of exploding up and returning quickly, do everything at a fraction of the speed. It may help to count in your head.
For example, when doing a squat, don’t just lower down, hold for a second, then move back up. Use a four-count.
Move down slowly so, by the time you hit four, you’re in the squat position. Then hold for another four count, before moving back up. While you are not using as much weight, you put a longer, constant strain on the muscles, which forces your muscles to work harder in a different way. Lifting lighter but slower is actually an excellent workout technique many professionals take advantage of when they want to put on size.
You won’t break any strength records, but if you want a killer booty and larger muscles that feel like they’ve been whipped and worked extra hard the next morning, lifting slowly is the way to go.
Leg Workouts At Home You Can Master
Deadlifts at home
Let’s assume for argument’s sake you don’t have a barbell.
If you do, you can load it up and perform the deadlift just as you would at the gym (check out our article on the deadlift for more details on the move and how to perform it with a barbell).
Whether you do have a barbell or not, make sure you either are in the basement/garage or have weight room floor mats on the ground. You can purchase sets of these squared off mats at nearly any store that sells weights. It is a thick foam that still provides ample support while protecting your floor.
Just because you don’t have a barbell doesn’t mean you can’t perform the deadlift. As one of the most important lifts, it is necessary to include it in your at home workout. You can still use two dumbbells with this lift.
However, this is one of the few lifts we’re going to cover here that you should still go full speed. The deadlift is about being explosive, so look towards an explosive lift with this exercise.
Begin with the dumbbells on the ground. If the plates on the dumbbells are small you can hold them by your ankles. Just make sure to have your back straight and to look at a fixed point near the top of the wall. Push up through your feet as you lift the weight. Make sure to squeeze your butt as you lift and, at the top of the lift, squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will help work your lower back. You can even add a calf raise to the lift if you like (you can add this raise to most of the lifts).
Due to the lighter nature of the weight, you’re going to want to shoot for three sets of 8-12 reps.
Sumo Squat’s At Home
There are a handful of different squats we’re going to focus on here. The sumo squat is one of them. This move is almost built for the home workout. All you need is a single dumbbell to perform it. If you have an adjustable dumbbell (this is recommended over the fixed-weight dumbbells because you can purchase new weight as needed, instead of buying larger and larger dumbbells) load it up with as much weight as possible. Chances are you can get somewhere between 60-80 pounds on a single dumbbell.
Stand with your legs extremely wide apart. Picture a sumo wrestler and how he stands. Grab hold of the single dumbbell and hold in between your legs with both hands. Again, maintain a straight back.
Now, slowly lower yourself down using the four-count. At four, the weight should almost be touching the floor and your thighs parallel to the ground. Hold for a four-count, before exploding back up. This move really works your inner thighs and butt. If you’re looking for a way to lift the booty, this is an excellent move (Muscle and Fitness, 2017).
Perform three sets of 8-12 reps.
A quick note on the 8-12 reps. While you are going lighter, the slow speed will surprisingly make the moves difficult. With that said, if you’re at 8 but think you can muster out another one or two, keep going. The goal is to reach muscle failure between 8-12 reps. Don’t just stop because you hit 8.
Squat’s At Home
The classic squat is something you should still perform at home, even without a barbell. With this home
With this home squat, you have a few options.
If you want the most weight possible, hold a dumbbell on each side.
This limits how wide your legs can go, but as you’re performing a sumo squat as well it is fine to have a slightly tapered instance. You can also go with a single dumbbell squat where you hold the weight to your chest with your hands. This doesn’t work your legs as much but it does add more strain on your arms. As this is a leg workout it is best to go with the two dumbbell approach, but it’s up to you.
Much like the sumo squat, lower yourself down slowly on a four-count, hold for four, then explode up. Also, even though you’re lifting lighter, it is best to stop around the 90-degree mark and then explode up. Maintaining this 90-degree bend for a four-count is what really works your quads and hamstrings.
Perform three to four sets of 8-12 reps.
Bulgarian Split Squat’s At Home
Bulgarian Split Squat is a great move you need to perform during your at home workouts.
Also, a perk with the home leg workout is you can probably leave your dumbbells maxed out weight wise. With the Bulgarian split squat, all you need is your two dumbbells and a workout bench.
Don’t have a workout bench?
Grab a chair from the kitchen table.
You just need something to place your foot during the lift.
With this lift, stand with your back to the chair, holding the dumbbells on each side. Place the toe of your shoe on the chair. You want some space between you and the chair. Now, squat down. The knee of the kicked back foot will lower down to almost touching the ground. Hold for a moment and then rise back up.
This is a great workout as it isolates each leg individually.
Perform three sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
Backward And Forward Lunge At Home
Do each of these separately, but make sure to do both. Begin both by standing with your feet, shoulder width apart and the dumbbells at your side.
With the backward lunge, lunge backward, but don’t let your knee hit the ground, hold for a moment, then bring the leg back to the starting position. Do this 10-12 times on each side and perform two reps.
The forward lunge should be the same, only stepping forward instead of backward.
Jump-Up At Home
This move goes by many names. It also doesn’t require any weights at all. With it, you take your bench (or another solid, sturdy object), jump from the floor onto it, step off, and repeat. You do this as many times as possible in a 30-second window. You can also do it one leg at a time if you want to isolate your legs.
With you performing most of the moves slowly, tossing in a quick movement exercise is great, as it helps ensure you work both the fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.
You want to do this for 30 seconds, break for 30 and then repeat a second time. The next time you do the leg workout tries to beat your 30 second time.
Now, you will eventually run into a wall where you simply can’t push out more in a 30-second timeframe.
When this happens, increase the time to 45 seconds, then a minute.
Pistol Squat’s At Home
The pistol squat is an underutilized move, but for the home leg workout, it is great.
The pistol squat is another leg isolation move.
If you haven’t performed the pistol squat before you’ll want to begin without any weights as it does take some balance for your body to become accustomed to it. To begin, stand straight with your legs about shoulder width apart. Transition your weight to your left leg and raise your right leg into the air.
You may want to hold your arms out in front of you (think a walking Frankenstein or any of the old classic monsters…back when monsters were monsters and vampires didn’t sparkle) to help with balance. Now, lower yourself down into a squat, keeping your right left off the ground.
Ideally, go as low down to the ground as you possibly can.
This particular move is really going to work the stabilizer muscles in your entire lower body (and in your core). The combination of balance and strength training here is something most people miss out on entirely. As your body becomes accustomed to the move you can add some weight to the lift.
Perform two sets of 10 reps (on each leg).
Lifting big has long been a staple for leg day. Sliding on as many plates onto the barbell or the squat machine can bring with it a badge of honor as if each plate is a new star on a general’s uniform.
However, for some, lifting big like this is detrimental to their knees. For others such as yourself, having hundreds of pounds of weight at the house just isn’t feasible.
Thankfully, you can still workout your legs in the comfort of your own home without going big on weight. You just need to know how to best use the weight you do own. By following this workout, you’ll feel your legs burn and wake up just as sore the next day as you would with any gym-based leg workout routine.