Calisthenics Leg Workout – The Only 5 Exercises you Really Need

Truth is that in Calisthenics most athletes focus more on achieving skills like the planche, front lever, back lever or handstand, forgetting or neglecting to work out their legs.

That is why people have the impression that Calisthenics doesn’t involve any leg exercises.

That is NOT true.

To begin with, you ‘re getting a pretty good amount of leg training while doing your mobility routine, which is really important in Calisthenics, in order to develop your balance and range-of-motion.

There are, also, plenty of bodyweight exercises that we use to workout the legs.

Here are the best of them :

1. Bodyweight squats

squat is a strength exercise in which the trainee lowers their hips from a standing position and then stands back up.

Squats are considered a vital exercise in Calisthenics for increasing the strength and size of the lower body muscles as well as developing core strength.

The primary agonist muscles used during the squat are the  quadriceps femoris, the adductor magnus, and the gluteus maximus.The squat also isometrically uses the erector spinae and the abdominal muscles, among others.

In order to get to the starting position for the Bodyweight Squat you need to stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, your toes should be pointed slightly outward.

Then, raise your arms straight out in front of you, keeping your chest up and your spine in a neutral position.

Keeping your core tight and your spine straight, bend your legs and lower your body. Keep sending your hips backwards like you were about to sit down.

Continue until your hip joint is lower than your knees and then, pushing through your heels, stand buck up to the starting position.

It’s important to keep your core engaged at all time and squeeze your butt at the top to make sure you’re using your glutes.

2. Pistol squats

Pistol Squat is a squat performed on one leg.

It’s an advanced strength movement, more taxing on your nervous system, lower-body muscles, and your core. Plus, they require an extreme amount of hip, knee, and ankle mobility.

In order to get to the starting position for the Pistol Squat you need to extend one leg in front of you, with your heel hovering off the floor, and raise your arms straight out in front of you.

Then, keeping your core tight and your spine straight, bend your standing leg and lower your body, to keeping your other leg extended in front of you.

Continue to bend through your standing knee as far as you can while aiming to get your extended leg parallel to the floor.

Straighten your standing leg to return to starting position, always keeping your extended leg straight.

Switch legs and repeat.

ASSISTED pistol squats

For an easier progression you can try supporting yourself from a bar or pole, in order to have better control on the lowering portion of the exercise.

This will allow you to build strength and progress to the full movement.

3. Glute bridges

Glute Bridges, also called pelvic lifts, are an exercise for the back of your legs, hips, and gluteal muscles, but they also help strengthen your entire torso.

They are also very suitable for beginners, as it’s very straightforward and you can do it everywhere.

Start by lying with your back and head on the flour, knees bent. Keep your arms outstretched beside you.

Pull your feet close enough to you, so that your calves are directly perpendicular to the floor.

Now squeeze your glutes and lift your hips, lower back and thighs so they form a straight line. Your knees shouldn’t touch each other during the movement, but also not be too far apart.

Make sure that you push your glutes upwards out of your leg muscles. Try not to use your arms.

Hold the position for one second. Then lower to just above the floor without completely lowering your glutes. Then press your pelvis back up.

It’s important to keep your core engaged at all time and squeeze your butt at the top to make sure you’re using your glutes.

4. Nordic Hamstring curls

The Nordic Hamstring Curl is a strength exercise that primarily works the hamstring muscles.

The hamstrings are big muscles that contribute to almost any movement you do with your legs.

You also don’t want to bend too much at the hips; you can lean forward a little, but try to keep the hips fairly neutral.

To perform the Nordic Hamstring Curl you need to knee and then lower under control while your ankles are held in place by a partner, a bar, or any other immovable object.

Continue by extending your hamstring muscles to lean forward from the knee, not from the hip

The movement should be slow and controlled.

You should come as forward or low to the floor as you can without using your hands. Only put your hands on the floor when you can no longer rely on your legs… Then push yourself back up to starting position and repeat.

You shouldn’t bend your hips; you can lean forward a little, but try to keep the hips fairly neutral.

assisted NORDIC HAMSTRING CURLS

For an easier progression you can try supporting yourself with a resistance band, in order to have better control on the lowering portion of the exercise.

Attach the resistance band to a steady bar or machine behind you, above your head. Put the other end of the band over your head and hold it near your shoulders.

This will allow you to build strength and progress to the full movement.

5. Abductors & Adductors on Rings

Most coaches and trainees tend to neglect the abductor and adductror leg muscles due to the lack of machines and exercises involving them.

But with Calisthenics you can work those neglected muscle groups too !

You can use the Rings to create a lever, in order to strengthen your abductors and adductrors.

Start by lowering the Rings so that you will be able to place your feet on them. Hold onto the bar or pole until you place both feet on.

Then move your hands to the strips and hold them for balance.

Start extending your legs slowly, as far as you can. When you rich your maximum spread hold it for a second, and then bring them back together slowly.

It is important to perform the movement slowly and controlled at all times. Don’t rush on opening and closing your legs using momentum, as tempting as it might feel.

For a more advanced variation you could release the strips, and just balance on the rings without holding them!

leg workout calisthenics
No hands abductors & adductors on rings

Impressive isn’t it ?

You can, now, see that Calisthenics is a total body workout method, which, apart from the classic skills like the Planchehandstandfront lever, back lever and human flag, involves leg workout routines too.

Those routines have levels of difficulty and progressions just like the basic skills.

In the advanced levels you could use the weight of other athletes to increase the resistance.

But this is something we are going to discuss in another article.

Until then keep practising!

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