11 Leg Calisthenics Exercises Trainers Love

No equipment required.



Calisthenics is a great way to work the legs. These simple bodyweight moves can be done anywhere — without equipment — to build strength, enhance flexibility, and improve agility, says Pure Barre’s Michelle Ditto. Here, experts share 11 leg calisthenics exercises they love.

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Power Skips

Planet Fitness manager Theodore Savage suggests these in order to work quads, hamstrings, and calves.

- Staggered stance, left foot back.

- Drive left knee up to chest, swing right arm up.

- Land gently in the start position.

- Repeat for 60 seconds, 3 sets per side.

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Squat + Leg Raise

Running coach Jen Steele recommends this calisthenics leg move.

- Squat as if to sit in a chair.

- Keep chest up.

- Come back to stand, raise one knee to hip height.

- Squat again, then raise other leg.

- Do 10 reps, 5 leg raises per side.

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Wide Squat

Ditto says wide squats engage the quads, inner and outer thighs, and improve flexibility.

- Stand with feet wider than hips, toes slightly out.

- Lower down to squat.

- At bottom of squat, pulse 16 to 20x.

- Do 15 reps, 3 sets.


Leg Extensions

Ditto likes this move to tire out the quads.

- Stand feet hip-width apart.

- Use a wall for support.

- Extend one leg in front of you at hip height.

- Keep it straight, foot flexed.

- Do little lifts, 12x.

- Repeat 8 to 10 extensions per leg.


Side Lunge

Ditto suggests adding in a side lunge to hit the hips and glutes.

- From a wide squat, hinge forward at hips.

- Walk feet wider.

- Side lunge from right to left.

- Track knee over big toe.

- Repeat 8 to 10x per side.

- For a challenge, lift heels off the floor.


Calf Raises

Therapist Sandra Gail Frayna suggests this classic exercise to work the calves.

- Stand straight.

- Push into balls of feet to lift body up to stand on toes.

- Lower heels slowly.

- Repeat for 30 reps.

- For a challenge, stand on a single leg. Do 15 reps per leg.


Sumo Squat Walks

Freyna also recommends this squat variation to engage glutes, hamstrings, and outer quads.

- Get into squat position.

- Keep legs wider than hip-width.

- Stay very low to ground.

- Engage core, begin walking forward in this position.

- Take 20 steps.


Glute Kickback

Pilates pro Sarah Steele, of SteeleSculpt, says this exercise targets the legs and the glutes.

- Begin on all fours, shoulders over wrists.

- Lift one leg behind you to max height.

- Keep knee bent.

- Gently tap knee back to floor.

- Keep abs tight.

- Do 30 reps per leg.


Kneel To Squat

Steele also likes this one to target hamstrings and quads.

- Start in kneeling position.

- Step one foot in front of you to half-kneel.

- Step other foot under you into deep squat.

- Return to kneel one knee at a time.

- Keep upper body still.

- Do 15 reps.


Bulgarian Split Squat

Trainer TJ Mentus says this exercise corrects leg imbalances.

- Stand in front of elevated surface.

- Place one leg back behind you, toes on surface.

- Bend back knee, lightly touch ground.

- Lower straight down, come back up.

- Perform 8 to 12 reps per leg.


Jump Squats

This move works your quads, glutes, and hips, says trainer Jesse Feder.

- Stand feet shoulder-width apart.

- Squat down, keep torso upright.

- At bottom of squat, push into balls of feet.

- Jump straight up.

- Land gently on both feet.

- Do 15 reps, 3 sets.