How to Train Your Legs With Bodyweight Exercises

Training the legs is something of a hot topic among athletes. Gym goers who ‘skip leg day’ are often referred to unfavourably and for good reason; heck, Google “Skinny Leg Meme.” Training the legs has knock-on benefits throughout the entire body, whereas leaving them out tends to make you look disproportional and odd.

The question then is why so many people leave legs out of their routine in the first place. And the answer is a) Legs are boring, and b) Legs are hard to train, and c) I bike and run. Some triathletes don’t feel that they have to do legs for their routine, due to doing plenty on the bike and the run. It is actually quite the opposite.

The simple fact is that your legs don’t have hands attached to them. And this means it’s harder to pick up a weight, thus meaning you have to load yourself up some other way, and involve the whole body. That instantly reduces the number of exercises available to you, and means that leg exercises necessarily take up more space and leave you a lot more tired.

And it also makes it much harder to train your legs with bodyweight alone. But there are ways to train the legs, even if you don’t have a gym. Read on to discover some of the best of them:

Jumping Squats
One of the simplest ways to train your legs with your bodyweight alone is to use jumping squats. This simply means that you’re squatting down and then jumping at the apex. This is a simple exercise, and you wouldn’t think that it would make a huge difference, but it is great for building up power and can quickly create a burn thanks to the amount of acceleration involved.

Triathlon Strength Coach SpeakerBox Jumps

Speaking of which, box jumps require even more power to launch you high enough into the air, especially if you stack them high. This is in some ways just as challenging as a squat, and a great way to build hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips.

Jumping Lunges

This is simply a lunge where you jump, switch legs in mid-air, and then land with your legs in the opposite position. Doing this is a great way to build strength in the hamstrings, and again involves jumping to create more acceleration.

Lunge Walking

Simply walking by stepping from one lunge into the next. This is a surprisingly effective workout, because you’re plunging so deep in between, and spending the majority of your time under tension.

Single Leg Squat (Pistols)

Another way to make the squat more challenging with just bodyweight is of course to do it on just one leg. This requires twice the strength, and also forces you to balance a lot as well. A more advanced version is the ‘pistol squat’ which requires your foot to be flat on the ground while the other one is pointed straight out in front of you, toes facing up.

Side Squat

This exercise falls between a squat and a lunge, and involves stepping out to one side, lunging deep, and then stepping back to the middle, before repeating on the other side.

As triathletes, be mindful that we don’t want to be “trashing” our legs on leg day and do ALL of these exercises, but these are examples that you can knock out at the gym or at home!

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AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I am Jen Rulon, a Coach, Kona Finisher and a Public Speaker. I’ve been coaching triathletes for 18+ years and I received my Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I train triathletes to reach their potential and coach triathlon coaches to successfully grow their businesses using my own proven methods. I currently work with women on finding their own voice and journey to finding their "Champion Status" in their own eyes! My knowledge has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach — I’m a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

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