Our legs are made up of some of the biggest and strongest muscle groups (hey, quads and hamstrings) in the body, so it makes sense that many people turn to weights or equipment to properly challenge them. Sometimes, you just need that heavy-duty lifting to feel the burn. But if you’re on your own with no equipment in sight, don’t worry. With the right moves, you can actually get a serious lower-body burn going with just your bodyweight.
And it’s definitely worth having a few equipment-free routines on hand for when the gym isn’t an option. A strong lower body is important for everyday activities—like simply walking or powering through a run—but it also plays a role in stabilizing the smaller muscles and joints, like the knees, to help you stay injury-free.
When it comes to bodyweight leg workouts, there’s plenty of opportunity for variety, too, from fast-paced circuit routines to gentle Pilates exercises and ballet-inspired strength moves. Here are seven leg workouts to try anytime, anywhere. Do them at home, at a hotel, or even on the beach—because even mermaids do leg day.
1. Wake up your leg muscles with this 15-minute mat Pilates routine from Cassey Ho.
Blogilates brings the heat with half clam lifters, froggers, scissor kicks, and more. Your thighs will burn in the most satisfying way possible. The best part? You don’t even have to get off the mat to do this lazy girl leg workout. Yes, please.
2. Or try this lunge-free, squat-free, 16-minute routine.
This workout from Jessica Smith TV is great for beginners (and anyone who despises squats or lunges). It’s also low impact, so it’s a good option if you have knee issues. If you’re looking to give your glutes some extra attention, here’s a two-move butt workout with zero squats or lunges to try at the end.
3. This no-nonsense 20-minute workout means business…sweaty, muscle-shaking business.
If you’re tired of your same-old, same-old leg routine, try a format that mixes things up. This workout from Fitness Blender only has five moves and you’ll do each in a 5x5x5 pattern. This means five reps, five pulses, and repeated—you guessed it—five times. If you’re a little short on time, you can make this a 4x4x4 workout instead.
4. This plié squat side crunch works your legs, butt, and abs.
This killer move is part of Karlie Kloss’ full-body workout routine—check it out at the 30-second mark. Bonus: It works your obliques, too. Incorporate it into another at-home workout to give your lower body a little extra love outside of leg day.
5. If you want to really work your inner thighs, try this quickie 10-minute workout from PopSugar.
Fast-paced moves like scissor jacks and gate swings build strength and get your heart pumping. Want more? Check out this 10-minute workout for your inner thighs—but first, here are four things everyone gets wrong about inner thigh workouts.
6. Get strong-as-hell legs with this ballet-inspired workout from ballerina Mary Helen Bowers on BeFiT.
Burn out your legs with pulses and pliés—no actual barre required. This slow-and-steady workout from the founder of Ballet Beautiful will help you get ballerina-strong legs (you’ll also feel the serious burn in your booty). 5, 6, 7, 8…
7. This do-anywhere move will get your heart rate up while seriously challenging your legs.
Even if you’re not on the beach, you can still work up a sweat with this effective exercise from Tone It Up. Plyometric lunges (or jumping lunges) are explosive, so you’ll drive your heart rate up for an extra calorie burn while your legs put in the work to get high and get low. Work it into any workout for a legs and cardio boost.