I am one of those few calisthenics athletes who train the legs even more than the upper-body, and because I’ve built them quite muscular and athletic, I want to offer you two of my calisthenics leg workouts along with some tips regarding how can you build your legs more muscular with calisthenics, about rest days, and why you don’t need weights or a gym to enhance the look and performance of your legs.
It will require absolutely no equipment, and you can train at home or everywhere else you prefer. It even makes it perfect for a leg quarantine workout, if you will.
I also invite you to follow along with the article’s explanations because building muscular and athletic legs with calisthenics isn’t about one or two leg workouts only.
High Volume Squat Workout: 500 Reps
- Bodyweight Squats: 10 sets x 50 reps
- Calf Raises: 10 sets x Max. Reps
Don’t rush and underestimate this workout because it looks too simple, less cool, less complicated, and lacks variety. It’s not the only leg bodyweight routine I show you. From all the hundreds of exercises and routines available and those I also do myself, this one still belongs in my training journal even after years of constant training, and for a good reason. I do high-rep leg routines at least once a week or every two weeks because endurance workouts build a lot of athleticism and tear the muscle fibers apart very effectively, which is exactly what I need to rebuild them stronger and even more massive. Fortunately, bodyweight squats engage all the leg muscles, big and small, and doing high-reps, you only ensure to fatigue each fiber, a technique associated with hypertrophy.
I also recorded my repetitions and the workout to show you the exact execution, speed, and form. Therefore, check it out in the video below:
I know this calisthenics leg workout doesn’t strike like something much, especially if you didn’t try it before, but keep an open mind and trust me that it will pump, fatigue and burn out your leg muscles really well. You will have great difficulties walking the days after. Most calisthenics athletes avoid these high-rep leg routines, and honestly, the ones who truly developed their legs in balance with their upper-bodies are those who consistently do high-rep squats too.
To train your legs effectively with calisthenics, you don’t need a variety of exercises all the time. Sometimes, you may need to be time-efficient, and one bodyweight leg exercise can really deliver up to the expectations.
This leg workout doesn’t require more than 30 minutes if you are at the same level as me. Though you can adapt it to your fitness level and do perhaps 40 squats per set, in which case, you might fit within 30 minutes.
The most meaningful aspect of the workout is the volume, which is pretty important because it’s a component related to muscle building.
I suggest a pause from set to set of no longer than 60 seconds, and in case you can’t recover properly, then extend it to 90 seconds from a set to another. Go as deep as possible, and if you go fast on the concentric portion, please slow down on the negative or eccentric part. You can choose a tempo of 2-0-4 or 2-1-3.
I also included calf raises because calves are the only muscles that high-rep squats can’t fully drain and you may need more workload to stimulate development, meaning hypertrophy. That also depends on whether you do other types of leg workouts too. For instance, I do many running, sprints, and plyometric exercises, and it’s enough for my calf development. I don’t need to add Calf Raises when I try this 500 Squats Workout. It’s actually my suggestion for you as well.
High-Rep Progressive Calisthenics Leg Workout
- One-Leg/Pistol Squats: 4 sets x 10 reps
- Bulgarian Splits: 4 sets x 15 reps
- Jump Squats: 5 sets x 20 reps
- Bodyweight Squats: 5 sets x 35 reps
- Crouch Walk: 200 steps (reps)
The total work volume gathered comprises 575 repetitions, all bodyweight reps. This calisthenics leg workout is based on high-rep and progressive training, similar to the first one, except for more squat variations with different intensities and executions. It’s a killer leg workout. Trust me!
This leg calisthenics workout is progressive because it starts with the toughest and most difficult exercise: the One Leg Squat or Pistol Squat. The one-legged squat replaces the weighted squat very successfully, despite what many want to believe about it.
The pause I suggest is 60-90 seconds from set to set and rest between 2-3 minutes before moving on to the next squat variant.
Worry not if it seems that the workout is too difficult to engage. For beginners (Calisthenics Program for Beginners) but more so to those struggling with pistols, skip them altogether to Bulgarian Splits. Though, I recommend here 2 more sets and perhaps even do 20 reps instead, for compensation. Volume is again essential and crucial to your leg development, no matter the workout you do.
The difference between One-Leg Squats and Pistol Squats is that you can stay on higher ground with the first variation on a box and have the other leg fall as you go through the eccentric portion. With Pistols, you have to balance and coordinate as the other leg will slide forward. You do Pistols typically on the floor. Therefore, the first one may be better to contract the muscles and for hypertrophy reasons. You may also find that you can keep a better posture of your spine with the first one-leg variant, which is crucial to your health.
Use a different rep range for bodyweight squats if you want, something that suits your strength and muscular endurance level.
Split the 200 steps/reps you have to do for Crouch Walk into several sets. Your aim should be to do as many continuous reps as possible to fatigue the legs to a high degree. Within these reps, take a minimum essential pause, stretch them a little.
These calisthenics leg workouts can get monotonous at some point. I like mixing up a lot, and usually, plyometric and combinations of several leg exercises are more fun. The more dynamic the workout is in general, the more likely it is to perform at your best and find it more pleasant. That will make you come back for more and accept the leg soreness too. You do need the kind of strenuous workout I proposed initially to train your legs properly but try and focus as much as possible on dynamic bodyweight leg exercises and workouts, exactly as the one I did in the video below. It’s a functional and very dynamic bodyweight leg workout where I did combinations and circuits based on various sprints, burpees, lunges, and so on:
Can You Build Legs with Calisthenics?
You can build your legs with calisthenics very muscular, athletic, powerful, strong, and endurable to continuous and strenuous workload if you respect these principles:
- Train the legs more frequently, even more often than your upper-body.
- Include weekly plyometric bodyweight leg exercises
- You need those monotonous leg workouts too that usually focus on 1-2 exercises only.
- Include isometric exercises like when you sit in a Squat position at 90-degree and have your back lying on a wall. This exercise will also help with recovery after an incident, with a great positive impact on your knees, calves, and hamstrings.
- Include strength exercises like Pistols and Hill Sprints. In fact, you can also place a training partner on your shoulders and try to squat his and your own bodyweight.
- Include power leg moves too, like short sprints. However, do not forget long-distance sprints too.
- Embrace stair steps too. Find a stadium or an athletic arena and start working there with various jumps, sprints and jogs.
- Embrace sets and reps. No matter what you do, you need intensity and workload. Avoid it, and you won’t grow your legs!
I haven’t read this in a book. I found the answers through years of practice and experience and because I’ve found success with my method of training the legs. Fifteen years have taught me enough to go out there on the internet and teach you my techniques. However, this intense work leaves you kind of in a pickle with recovery, which leads you to the following dilemma to solve.
Do You Need Rest Days for Calisthenics?
Training with a high frequency will lead to overtraining, sort of speaking. If you add 2-3 upper body workouts and another 2-3 leg workouts, then it’s obvious that you’ll train 5-6 times a week. From experience, I know that only half of them can be and will be tough and hard. The others will be more relaxing as you are not a machine. This adaptation to high-intensity training and hard exercises is built throughout the years, and even professional athletes tend to do a lot of easier workouts. So do not imagine that you only need hard work.
You also need light training to focus on dynamic and plyometric exercises or where you include stretching sessions. That’s right! You need to stretch a lot if you want great results and avoid overtraining and injuries of any kind.
Therefore, include rest days, even 2-3 if needed, but what I suggest is not a complete time off, but rather an active recovery. During this time, go and hike, walk a lot, include stretching sessions and even go to sports and deep tissue massages.
How Can I Train My Legs Without Gym?
You can train your legs without a gym and weights. When you train bodyweight, there is still resistance applied, and the more creative you get on how to apply that resistance, the more you’ll benefit.
Your nervous system and muscles don’t know, and in fact, they are completely unaware if you lift heavy or perform bodyweight. They will contract and will provide the required strength for optimal performance. If the workout is tough, if the training regimen is hard, and if the program you follow is repetitive and challenging, it will toughen you up to resist and adapt. That adaptation is nothing more than new powerful muscle connections, a more responsive nervous system, better joints, more endurance, more mass, and so on. Does it make sense?
You achieve nothing with a narrowed mind. Be open when you read my articles because I added here some gold information, all for free.