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The Best Body Weight Leg Exercises

by Nick Ng

About Nick Ng

Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.


If you desire to have shapely, sexy legs, doing the best targeted body-weight exercises can do the trick. These exercises always incorporate your entire body to keep your balance and produce force. They're also functional because you use a more natural range of motion than when you use gym equipment. Because you don't need fancy equipment to do body-weight exercises, you can workout right at home.

Run Up Those Stairs

Stair running requires you to be able to produce and control force when climb up the stairs, and to reduce and control force when you climb down the stairs, says Coach Vern Gambetta, author of "Athletic Development." Although your lower body does most of the work, your muscles in your torso and shoulder girdle stabilize your upper body to keep them from moving out of alignment and out of balance. Stair running will also help improve your stamina, endurance, coordination, balance and posture.

Perform Overhead Squats

Overhead squats strengthen your abdominal and spine stability, and your legs and hips. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart and point your feet forward. Raise your arms above your head without arching your lower back, and squat down as low as you can. Keep your torso upright and your arms over your head as you squat. Exhale and stand back up. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Lunge and Twist

For the basic front lunge, stand with your feet together and step forward with your right foot about two feet in front of you. Lunge down until your left knee almost touches the ground, and turn your body to your right at the same time with your arms extended in front of your chest. Rotate your body back to facing the front, and step back to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 10 lunges per leg.

Incorporate Stepups

A stepup involves moving your body to a higher elevation by using one leg and one side of your hip to push yourself up. Use a stack of aerobic steps or a flat-surface platform that is slightly higher than your kneecap. Face the step and put your right foot on top of the step. Brace your abs and step up onto the step, and lift your left knee up to your ribs. Hold this position for one second and step back down. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg.

References (2)

  • "Essence of Program Design"; Juan Carlos Santana; 2004
  • "Athletic Development"; Vern Gambetta; 2006

Photo Credits:

  • Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.