Often in Calisthenics, the glamour comes from the incredible skills, and upper body strength. But what part do the legs play? Well, I can answer that for you, a huge one. Without tension through the quads, feet and glutes particularly, a lot of planking based calisthenics skills cannot be achieved. The Gluteal muscles are the largest in the body, so they need plenty of training. We cannot be the ones skipping leg day!
Below are a list of exercises which are calisthenics fundamentals for lower body and leg training using only your bodyweight. These exercises will help grow size and muscle through your legs and help you master balance, compression and great mind to muscle connection through your lower body!
A great single leg squat variation, Pistol Squats can be done with or without support from a resistance band, bar or TRX band, and eventually unassisted. Make sure your knees are thoroughly warmed up before attempting this one. Practice squat depth, ankle strengthening + mobility, Glute strengthening and balancing drills before you start to attempt these.
For Nordics, you need a mat or soft surface underneath your knees. Then, to secure your feet sole side up, use the bottom rung of a set of wall bars. Make sure your feet are secure as you will then, whilst keeping your body tense, extend your knees and lower yourself down, chest first, and then pull yourself back up, with a little help from your hands at the bottom. Don’t be afraid to use a bit of momentum for help, especially when starting out with this great lower body exercise.
For reverse Nordics grab a mat, and place your knees mat width apart, with your body nice and tall. Then straighten your arms out in front of you and slowly bend your knees, allowing yourself to sink right back between you knees. Squeeze the glutes and power yourself back up.
This exercise has the same starting position as regular Nordics. However, before you begin, hinge your hips so your body is nice and parallel with the ground. Then you want to extend outwards and return with your body still parallel. This one is savage on the hamstrings but fantastic for control and for gains.
Again, like the pistol squats, work up to this one using resistance bands on a bar to assist you. Start from a standing position. Then as you bend your knees, push them forward over your toes. Dot your knees down and return to that standing position. Make sure you have enough resistance to help you lower yourself down, warm up thoroughly and really build ankle strength and mobility. You can also stack plates under your knees, and remove them as you progress your range.
Now this one is just absolutely bananas. From a single leg position, place your weight onto one side. With the other leg, sweep it out and around behind your standing leg, keeping it nice and straight. As you do this sink down on the single planted leg. Almost like a topsy turvy pistol squat. Definitely do this assisted, and this is a very advanced progression from the pistol squat. For this exercise you need incredible balance, flexibility, quad and glute strength. Definitely one to do with a coach or training buddy. The last thing you want is to be leg locked and unable to get up!
This is a great single leg squat. Stand on one leg and grab the other, pulling it up to the glute muscles on that side. Then lower yourself down and dot your knees to the floor. To start with, add some height under the knee being lowered, and you can remove it as you progress. Also you can use one hand for balance to start with, then you can look to hold that lowering leg with two hands.
Glute And Leg Bridges
These are fantastic if you have an exercise ball or bench where you can elevate yourself. The single leg, and double leg glute bridges are fantastic for glute and hamstring strength. These are probably the easiest exercise on the list, but with so many differing variations and levels of resistance, you can make them challenging for those extra gains.
Tag us @gravity.fitness on social media and show us your progressions and let us know we have missed any exercises off this list. What would you guys recommend?
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