I know I do. Here are some reasons…
To Get Stronger
Why would you want that? Because it helps you to enjoy your everyday life and other activities so much more. Here's one of my client's experience how strong legs made her vacation more awesome. I just love her story so much.
To Keep Me In a Good Walking Shape
I walk quite a bit. 10 km (6.2 miles) is my minimum for every day. Rain or shine, I go out and walk if I haven't met my goal for the day, even before the bedtime.
In the weekends I often end up walking around 18-20km. Strong legs definitely help in that, especially when walking around in the Bay area that is super hilly.
To Stay In a Good Running Shape
I don't run a ton anymore, about twice a week on average. But my goal is to be in a half marathon shape pretty much any time of a year.
I'm not chasing any particular time on the half, I just want to be able to run 13.1 miles whenever I feel like it. Who knows, I may get an idea to run a race, so I've got to be ready. Strong legs help to run faster.
To Prepare Me for (semi) Strenuous Hikes
I love hiking, especially in hilly areas. Strenuous, of course, is a relative term, but if you hike a lot, you definitely need a pair of strong legs if you don't want to be wiped out after the first miles.
To be Able to Lift Heavier Weights
No, you don't have to train with weights if you don't want to. But I like it and combine added weight workouts with bodyweight workouts all the time. It wasn't until recently that 60 lbs kettlebell front squats started to feel somewhat comfortable. Gaining strength is empowering!
To Be Able to Do More Reps in Your Workouts
That's another way to keep your eye on your progress–can you do more reps of some movement than you did a few months ago? It's super cool to realize even small progress, for example that you can do five elevated pistols if you could barely do four two months ago!
To Get Nicer Legs
Don't tell me that you don't care for nice legs. Muscle definition is pretty, you can't deny it. Strong legs are nice legs.
Several Ways to Build Strong Legs
You may want to take your bodyweight training to the next level and start working more on single leg exercises. Here are five single leg exercises that you can add into your workout routine.
Five Bodyweight Single Leg Exercises for Strong Legs
The following exercises are all done with nothing else than just bodyweight. The great thing is that in addition to legs, those exercises help you to build stronger core, because whenever you have to maintain balance–and you do, because in these exercises you're standing on your one leg only–you work your core too.
Bodyweight Single Leg Balance Work
What It Works: Strengthens your glutes, hamstrings and core, stretches the hamstrings.
How to Do It: Stand up tall. Find a spot on the ground to look at and focus on, that will help you to keep the balance. Engage the abs, then lift one leg up and slowly lean your upper body forward until your fingers touch the ground. Keep the standing leg straight. Slowly come back up again.
When doing this exercise, keep in mind that you don't have to go fast! Try to really focus and feel what your abs and the whole back side of your legs are doing.
Keeping the stomach in really helps to maintain the balance.
Bodyweight Deficit Lunges
What It Works: Strengthens your glutes, quads and core, stretches the hip flexors.
How to Do It: In this exercise, you will go into a much deeper lunge position than in a regular lunge.
Stand on the first step of the stairs. It could also be a step board or platform that you can find in gyms or aerobics classes, something like this. Don't try to do this on a too high surface like a box that you normally use for box jumps.
Keep the upper body upright and chest proud. Standing on the step, take a long step behind you with one leg and do a deep lunge so that the back knee gets really close to the ground. Feel the stretch in your quads and hip flexors of the back leg.
When you're in this position, your back knee should become under your hips but not too much forward or behind it. Then push yourself back up and step back on the first step. Your glutes and quads should be in for in no time!
Bodyweight Single Leg Knee Tap Squats
What It Works: Strengthens your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core.
How to Do It: This exercise is great for you if you can't yet do pistol squats but are working your way there.
Stand up tall. Lift one leg off the ground and bend the knee. At the same time, do a squat on the standing leg. Try to squat as low as you can, ideally so that the knee of the leg that is lifted up gets as close to the ground as possible and nearly touches it–hence the name of the exercise, knee tap squats.
If you can't get the knee close to the ground, that's totally fine. Just do the deepest squat you can.
Bodyweight Split Squats
What It Works: Strengthens your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core and stretches the hip flexors.
How to Do It: This exercise works all the above mentioned muscles, but it really, really burns the quads!
Stand in front of the stairs or a box, back towards it. The stairs or box should be at around your knee height. Place your one leg on the stairs or box behind you. Lower the front leg and do a lunge. In this position, your front knee and ankle should be in line, and the knee shouldn't go over the ankle.
Try to get the back knee as close as possible to the ground. Keep the upper body upright throughout the exercise!
Don't rush through this exercise and end up doing simply half squats. Take it slow, really focusing on the depth of the squat.
Elevated Surface Pistol Squats
What It Works: Strengthens your glutes, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors and core.
How to Do It: Here we go, another step closer to pistol squats!
Stand on a box or stairs. Lift one leg up in front of you and do the deepest squat you can with the other leg. The free leg should be extended in front of you.
Keeping the non-working leg extended takes a lot of hip strength and hamstring flexibility, both of which I'm working on. So, my free leg tends to get more bent than it should be. In a real, beautiful pistol squat, you keep the non-working leg straight throughout the exercise.
Try these single leg bodyweight exercises out for stronger, more powerful legs! All these exercises also help you to strengthen the core, because you have to constantly focus on maintaining your balance.
Try them out and let me know how you liked them!
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