Can you develop your legs with just bodyweight?
Is it possible to build muscle and strength in your legs using just your bodyweight?
Or is it true that you need to use weights to develop your legs?
If it is true that you need weights to build your legs, are there any advantages in doing bodyweight leg training?
These are good questions. I receive these kinds of questions regularly from people who are travelling or don’t have access to weights.
There are indeed some perks with bodyweight leg training.
Among them are the following:
- Unilateral Development – compared to controlling just your body in space, the use of weight puts load on the body. This does not allow it to do as many movements (this is especially true if you’re not very advanced). Bodyweight leg training is a great way to spot weaknesses on one side of the body compared to the other. When the weakness is identified, you can then focus on bringing up the weak side accordingly.
- Balance and Stability – due to the wider range of movements that can be utilised, many bodyweight leg exercises require more core engagement and balance. This helps develop stability and coordination, and helps improve overall athleticism. This often translates well into climbing stairs, running, jumping, and other functional activities.
- Joint-Friendly – compared to lifting heavy weights, bodyweight exercises tend to place less stress on the joints. This can be beneficial for individuals with joint issues. It’s also a good way to de-load and give the joints a needed break from conventional weight training.
- Progressive overload options – while weights offer a more straightforward way to progress (simply increases the weight and reps), bodyweight exercises can provide progressive overload through movement modifications. Bodyweight training allows for more modifications to the difficulty of an exercise. This can be achieved via changes in leverage, range of motion, speed, and explosiveness. The increased range of motion also allows for more improvements in flexibility, mobility, and joint health (compared to traditional weight exercises).
These all seem like great things if you ask me.
But, I still get asked the question:
“Which is better – weights or bodyweight training for leg development?”
Generally speaking, weights are better for building your legs.
Yet, there are always exceptions (as you can see >>HERE).
It’s not as simple as making a sweeping generalisation or blanket rule.
Bodyweight leg exercises allow for different adaptations and training effects via different mechanisms.
In a well-rounded program, many bodyweight exercises can provide great stimulus. These exercises should often be incorporated over time.
A lack of stimulus with lower bodyweight training is usually due to a lack of know-how… A know-how about overload options and exercise progressions.
Don’t get too one dimensional with your training.
Be open to learning effective bodyweight exercises too if you want to get the most out of your training.
Click >>HERE for some ideas about what you might be missing in my latest >>sub 60 sec workout video.
I promise you the exercises are not easy, but each has a regression to bring you up to speed.
Leg Training Liaison Officer
P.S. The perks of bodyweight training are not just limited to the lower body. The same principles apply for upper body and core training too. In my >>Lean Body Program, we have assembled the most effective bodyweight and resistance training exercises. We have also arranged these in a progressive format. This way you will maximise your time, effort, and results with your training. My program will help you develop a leaner, stronger, and more muscular body. It will also ensure that your body becomes more functional and resilient to injury. If you take your body seriously, then click >>HERE. Take the time to read the info page while also being prepared to take some action at the end.