Just because you don't have a gym membership or a set of dumbbells doesn't mean you can't get a workout at home. You can still get an intense workout with your body weight alone to get stronger and leaner legs. Pick a training method that fits your goals and fitness level so you can stick to your workout.
Doing bouts of sprinting can get you stronger legs and it boosts your metabolism higher than steady-pace jogging on a treadmill. Sprinting often involves a short period of high-intensity running followed by periods of rest to recover. Even though your body uses carbohydrates as the main fuel source, your body burns a higher rate of calories -- mainly from fat -- as a primary source of fuel after your training, says athletic coach Vern Gambetta, author of "Athletic Development." Sprinting increases leg size and power and helps you recover faster over the training period. Choose between 40 to 50 yards to sprint and gradually work your way up to 200 to 500 yards. Work with a qualified exercise professional or track coach if you are new to sprinting before attempting this on your own.
Jump-rope training isn't just for little girls any longer. It can be just as challenging as any fitness boot camp or cycling class. Although jump-rope training makes your calves burn, you are also improving your posture, rhythm and cardiovascular endurance, which can be applied to most sports and activities, like boxing and soccer. If you are new to jump roping, physical therapist Gray Cook, co-founder of Functional Movement Systems, recommends that you do the following three exercises. The bounce step is where you jump with your feet together. It provides the foundation to technique and body awareness. The single-leg hop reveals if one side of your body can perform better than the other side. The lunge hop is where you jump with one foot in front of the other. Start with one hop per second for 30 seconds before progressing to two hops per second for 30 seconds. Add 15 to 20 seconds per week until you can hop for three to four minutes continuously without making a mistake.
Your Own Weight
Body-weight training can build you lean muscles and strength without wasting time hopping from one machine to another to work out. You can do a quick leg circuit training by doing the following body-weight exercises with rest in between: squats, step-ups and lunges. You can add upper-body movements or change the direction in which you move in different circuits. For example, in the first circuit, do body-weight squats, front step-ups and front lunges for 20 seconds each. In the second circuit, do a squat with a torso rotation when you stand up, side step-ups and side lunges for 20 seconds each. Play with the different ways to move to improve body awareness and balance while making your workouts more fun.
If you want more powerful legs to help you climb more stairs, sprint faster or jump higher, plyometric training may be on your menu. This involves doing bouts of fast, high-intensity and repetitive movements in the shortest amount of time possible, says the IDEA Fitness Journal. Plyometrics also help you develop quick reflexes to save you or others from danger, such as side-stepping a hole in the ground when you run or jumping and climbing over a wall to escape. Based on the body-weight exercises, you can convert them into plyometric exercises, such as as doing squat jumps, power step-ups and jumping lunges.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Plyometric Progressions for Athletes
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.