Lower Body Exercises

Developing leg strength and power are important in many sports, from tumbling in gymnastics to nordic walking. However, even more important is endurance for our daily activities. As long as we are able to stand, we all have to carry ourselves on our legs (which doesn't mean only our leg muscles are helping to keep us up, but they play a major role).

The muscles of our core and our legs help us to stand up, to walk around, to climb and descend stairs, to run and to sprint. Our legs should not be neglected. On the other hand, it seems when those who recognise their need to do leg exercises, they get stumped as to what to do, including myself. From obvious exercises like walking and sprinting to not so obvious ones like The Pistol or the Prison Shower Defence (though I didn't come up with that elegant name), I have a list of a few lower body exercises which may help with your workouts:

  1. Bodyweight Squat
  2. Half Bodyweight Squats
  3. Hindu Squats
  4. Half Hindu Squats
  5. Bent Squats
  6. BootStrapper
  7. Bounding Squats
  8. Jump Squats
  9. Jump & Tuck Squat
  10. Lateral Squats
  11. Squat Thrusts
  12. Rear Leg Elevated Squat
  13. Scorpian Thrusts
  14. The Pistol (One Legged Squat)
  15. Elevated One Legged Squats
  16. Lunges
  17. Reverse Lunge
  18. Jumping Lunges
  19. Knee Jumps (complements of FitDaily)
  20. Knee Drops
  21. Prison Shower Defence
  22. Calf Raises
  23. Sprinting
  24. Rebounding
  25. Depth Jumps
  26. Hopping
  27. Box Jumping

1) Bodyweight Squat

Simply, start with legs just a little wider than shoulder width, then plant your butt between your legs by bending at the knees and keeping your torso upright. Once you're thighs are parallel to the floor, raise yourself back up to the standing position. All the while, your feet should be flat on the floor.

2) Half Squats

Start with feet just a little wider than shoulder width, then bend your legs so that you're half way between the point you get to in a full bodyweight squat.

3) Hindu Squats

Start with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down to full depth whilst keep on on the balls of your feet so that you're heel stays up as you raise back into the standing position. You may find yourself using your arms to create a swinging motion.

4) Half Hindu Squats

Start with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down on the balls of your feet until your in between the standing position and the full hindu squat, then raise back into the standing position. You may use your arms to create a swinging motion.

5) Bent Squats

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Reach down and place your hands on the front of your feet (so that one hand is on one foot, left-to-left, right-to-right). Now squat down as far you can whilst keeping your feet flat to the ground. Rise back up holding the front of your feet, then repeat again.

6) Bootstrapper

Kneel down so that your knees and toes are touching the floor. Your feet can be shoulder width, but a little closer is okay too. Place your hands flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart and in front of your knees. Then raise yourself up whilst keeping your hands and toes on the floor. Afterwards, lower yourself back down but without the knees touching the floor. Repeat.

7) Bounding Squats

Stand with feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Do a half squat then jump up in the air whilst keeping the body long. Land whilst lowering yourself into a half squat and immediately jump back up in the air.

8) Jump Squats

Stand with feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Do a full squat then jump up into the air whilst keeping the body long. Land back into the full squat and stop. Once you've stopped for a second, then repeat. (NOTE: You can do it also with a half squat.)

9) Jump Tuck Squats

Stand with feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Do a squat then jump up into the air and tuck the legs into the torso before landing back into a half squat. (NOTE: This can be done as either a half squat or full bodyweight squat.)

10) Lateral Squats

Stand with feet twice shoulder width apart. Lower yourself on the left foot whilst keep the right left straight and easing the right foot on to its inside. You then raise yourself back up and then repeat by lowering yourself on the right foot and keeping your leg straight. This isn't as easy as it looks so work up to it

11) Squat Thrusts

This will target the core as much as the legs, so it's great for running power. First, start at the top of the push up position, so your hands are flat on the floor, your arms are straight and your body forms a straight line back to your feet where your toes touch the floor. Whilst keeping your hands flat on the floor, thrust your feet so that they land by your hips, then thrust your feet back into the push up position.

12) Rear Leg Elevated Squat

Stand 4 or 5 steps away from a knee high bench/stool/chair. Stand with back facing the chair. Place the rear leg on the chair, then bend the front leg as far as you can go without the rear knee touching the floor and rise up again.

13) Scorpian Thrusts

The same as squat thrusts, but on one leg.

14) The Pistol (One Legged Squat)

Start on one foot. Squat down on one leg using your arms to balance, and keep your free leg out straight once you reach the bottom of the squat.

15) Elevated One Legged Squats

Same as The Pistol (one legged squat), but you're bending leg is elevated on the chair. This can make doing the pistol easier as you don't have get the free leg parallel to the floor.

Mh3>16) Reverse Lunge
Start with feet shoulder width apart. Take a step back with the left leg and bend the left leg so that the knee almost touches the floor, then drive your leg forward back into the standing position. Take a step back with the right foot and repeat.

17) Lunges

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step forward 4 or 5 steps so that you have one foot in front of the other. Lower the rear knee towards the floor and rise up whilst keeping the legs 4-5 steps apart, then repeat on the same leg. Once you've finished with one leg, change and repeat with the other.

18) Jumping Lunge

Step into a lunge position leading with the right foot forward, and the left foot back. The rear left knee should be almost touching the floor. Then jump so that the left foot is forward and the right foot is back. Repeat.

19) Knee Jumps

Start by kneeling on the floor. Carpets might feel better on the knees. Literally, jumping up and tuck the legs quickly so that you land on your feet and then stand up. Kneel back down and repeat.

20) Single Leg Knee Drops

Is similar to the Pistol but the free leg is kept back.

21)Prison Shower Defence

Stand with feet together, then bend forwards lowering your hands on the floor whilst at the same time, raising one leg straight up so that it becomes parallel to the floor.

22) Calf Raises

Stand with feet together. Raise your heels of the floor and then lower them back down slowly.


Just run! Run as fast as you can! When you do that you're sprinting, anything less than your fastest is just running.

24) Rebound Jumps

This can be immitated using two boxes, one in front of the other with a space in between. Start on the first height. Jump down off the height on to the ground, then immediately jump up again to the next height.

25) Depth Jumps

Jump off a box and bend the knees are you land to absorb the force the depth jump.

26) Single Leg Hops (3 degrees of motion)

Use only one leg to hop forwards, backwards, or sideways.

27) Box Jumps

You can use a box or a height of some kind, as long as it's something you can safely jump onto. Jump up on to the box and stand up.