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Calisthenics - A Beginner Leg Workout

by Ezra 8 minutes read

Last updated: 10 Nov, 2022

Calisthenics is a type of bodyweight training that is used to improve flexibility, strength, agility, coordination, and balance.

It can be used to strengthen all muscle groups in your lower and upper body, including legs, shoulders, arms, and chest.

Benefits of Calisthenics

  • No gym equipment needed

  • Builds functional strength by mimicking natural movements like pulling, pushing, squatting, jumping, and lunging

  • Aids with weight loss as it is a fat burner

  • Builds muscle mass and improves strength

  • Improves agility, coordination, and balance

  • Better for your joints

  • Lower risk of injury

  • Good for those of a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level

Bodyweight Leg Exercises

Legs are the foundation of our bodies, helping to keep us balanced, so it is important we never skip leg day and focus on building leg muscle.

When training your legs, the most popular types of calisthenic leg exercises include bodyweight squats, box jumps, and lunges.

Exercise Variations
Squat Bulgarian split squat, pistol squat, jump squat, in-and-out squat jump, and sumo squat
Box Jump One leg box jump
Lunge Curtsy lunge, jumping lunge, lateral lunge, and reverse lunge
Calf raises Plie calf raises and calf jumps
Glute bridge Glute bridge, glute bridge with march, supine walk-outs
Hips Hip abduction, hip extension, single leg hip thrust, and hip hinge
Skaters

Beginner Calisthenics Leg Workout

For beginners, aim to complete this bodyweight leg workout once a week.

Squat

The squat strengthens your quadriceps (quads) and gluteal (glutes) muscles, as well as your hamstrings.

How to:

  1. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes turned outwards slightly.

  2. Keep your back straight, chest open, shoulders down and back, and heels planted firmly on the ground.

  3. Push your hips backwards whilst bending your knees, lowering yourself as far as possible. Aim to have your thighs parallel with the ground or, if you are flexible enough, even lower.

  4. Stand back up by pressing your heels down, pulling your hips back underneath your ribs, until you have returned to the starting position. This is one rep.

  5. Repeat 3 times, with 3-5 reps each time.

Lunge

The lunge is a single leg exercise which strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and triceps surae (calves).

How to:

  1. To begin, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Step your left leg forward and then bend both of your knees, maintaining good posture, until your back leg is almost touching the ground.

  3. Push back up through your left heel until you are standing again.

  4. Repeat the movement, switching legs, to complete one rep.

  5. Repeat 3 times, with 3-5 reps each time.

Calf Raise

The calf raise strengthens your calves.

How to:

  1. To begin, stand with the balls of your feet on a weight plate or exercise step, ensuring your heels aren’t touching the ground. Keep good posture with your toes pointed and shoulders back.

  2. Raise your heels off the ground, engaging your calves, then slowly lower them back down. This is one rep.

  3. Repeat 3 times, with 3-5 reps each time.

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is a single leg exercise which strengthens your glutes and hamstrings.

How to:

  1. On top of an exercise mat, lie flat on your back. Keep your knees bent, feet firmly against the ground, with your arms placed at your side with the palms down.

  2. Until your hips, shoulders, and knees form a straight line, lift your hips up off the ground.

  3. Engage your glutes and hold the position for a few moments before lowering back down, to complete one rep.

  4. Repeat 3 times, with 3-5 reps each time.

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Intermediate Calisthenics Leg Workout

After mastering the beginner level bodyweight exercises, you will be ready to move onto an intermediate workout to build your legs with calisthenics. Aim to repeat this workout 2-3 times per week.

Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a squat variation which strengthens the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

How to:

  1. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes forward, and your chest tall.

  2. Focusing on your balance, extend your right leg out straight off the floor with your toes pointed upwards.

  3. Both your arms then need to be extended in front of you, aligned with your shoulders. Brace your core and keep your eyes forward.

  4. Bend your right knee as you push your hips back and down, lowering to the ground like in an ordinary squat, until you are almost to the ground.

  5. Pushing through your left foot, reverse the motions until you are standing straight.

  6. Repeat the movement, switching legs, to complete one rep.

  7. Repeat 3 times, with 5 reps (or until failure) each time.

Box Jump

The box jump strengthens your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It is a plyometric move, helping to build explosive power.

How to:

  1. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bending both knees slightly.

  2. Swing both arms back and forth and jump as hard, and high, as you can.

  3. Land softly on the box, mimicking your starting position with slightly bent knees. You should not be in a deep squat.

  4. Jump or step back down to the ground, again landing softly, to complete one rep.

  5. Repeat 3 times, with 5 reps (or until failure) each time.

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a squat variation which strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads.

How to:

  1. Place an elevated surface, such as a chair or bench, 2 feet behind you.

  2. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with an engaged core, shoulders back, and eyes forward.

  3. Lift your left foot up onto your chosen elevated surface, finding balance on your toes and the ball of your foot.

  4. Bend your right knee, allowing your left leg to naturally fold but not bearing any weight. Lower your body until your back knee almost touches the ground.

  5. Push through your right heel to return to the standing position.

  6. Repeat the movement, switching legs, to complete one rep.

  7. Repeat 3 times, with 5 reps (or until failure) each time.

Plie Calf Raise

The plie calf raise strengthens the calves, glutes, and inner thighs.

How to:

  1. To begin, stand with your feet extended beyond the width of your shoulders and your thighs parallel to the ground, like a sumo squat.

  2. Engaging your calves, raise your heels off the ground before slowly lowering them back into the starting position to complete one rep..

  3. Repeat 3 times, with 5 reps (or until failure) each time.

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