How To Get Big Legs At Home Without Weights

November 6, 2021

If you’ve been sitting at home watching bodybuilding documentaries, or bodybuilders on YouTube train their “wheels” (yep, that’s a term for big legs), and are finally ready to turn those twigs into tree trunks…

Then get off your couch, sit back down, get back up, and sit back down. Just doing that means you’ve officially started your big legs routine from the comfort of your living room. But there’s much more to it than that. Especially for those who are more experienced. So, how do you get big legs at home without weights?

Getting big legs at home without weights requires the ability and patience to withstand long sets or high reps while adding brutal intensity techniques.

Want to know how it's done? Then I've got you covered with the best exercises and workouts for getting growing huge legs at home without weights.

How To Get Big Legs At Home Without Weights

There is an obvious inherent challenge to gaining mass on your legs when working out at home with no weights. That is, you have no external load to challenge your lower body muscles. Why do you need external loads such as barbells and dumbbells?

One key mechanism of muscle growth is mechanical tension [1]. Maximizing mechanical tension is moving a heavy load through a full range of motion. While you can nail full range of motion at home, heavy external loading is impossible without equipment. However, there are ways you can perform bodyweight exercises to achieve high levels of mechanical tension.

Intensity Techniques To Get Big Legs At Home

How To Get Big Legs At Home Without Weights

When you have no weights at home, many lower body exercises can be too easy. If you’re already squatting heavy weights in the gym, or you’ve been doing bodyweight exercises, a set of 10 squats isn’t going to be difficult.

As mentioned above, mechanical tension is a key mechanism of hypertrophy. But generating high levels of muscular tension is not limited to external load. By lifting close to failure, you increase mechanical tension because of the reduction in movement speed. Think about those last few grinding reps of a set.

This lower movement speed creates greater tension in the muscles which can spur greater muscle growth. That’s where these intensity techniques come in. Because failure is hard to reach with bodyweight leg exercises, these techniques can be added to a set to fast track your way there.

Secondly, these techniques increase total training volume and time under tension which are also key variables for gaining muscle [2]

And lastly, adding intensity techniques are going to increase metabolic stress and muscle damage, the last two key mechanisms of muscle growth [1].

Metabolic stress is simply the build-up of by-products from the use of energy within the muscle [3]. You may associate this with the “burn” feeling you get near the end of your set. Safe to say, if you are adding these techniques to your leg training at home, you’ll be on your way to big legs.

One And A Half Reps

The 1 & ½ rep protocol will blow your legs up. Because you are in the bottom or stretched position longer, you are occluding more blood from flowing out from the muscle. This is what enhances metabolic stress and overall time under tension.

Let’s take the squat for example. Squat to the bottom position but only return halfway up. This will be approximately just above parallel. Then go back to the bottom position and finish the squat by standing tall.

This is one rep. Performing a whole set of these is a completely different beast than straight reps.

Isometric Holds

Isometrics, especially at long muscle lengths, are great muscle builders [4]. But I’m not giving you basic isometric exercises. I’m talking about isometric holds in the stretched position at the end of your set.

This is what makes these holds absolute leg destroyers. Once you reach your last rep, hold the bottom position for 10-20 seconds. For example, after 10 reps of split squats, hold the bottom position for 10 seconds.

Partial Reps

This is another variation you can use at the end of your sets. After your last rep, you will perform a set number of partial reps in the bottom position. These will be more like pulses or half reps. For example, after a set of 10 squats, you can perform 10 more partial reps in the bottom position.

Best Exercises For Big Legs At Home Without Weights

Now you know how to get big legs, it’s time to introduce you to the best exercises you can do at home to get big legs without weights.

Heels Elevated Bodyweight Squat

Heels Elevated Bodyweight Squat For Big Legs Without Weights

The squat is a staple leg builder. It will be a staple in the workout presented below too. The reason for elevating the heels is so if you have any ankle mobility restrictions, you can still reach depth and it will target your quadriceps to a greater extent than having your feet flat. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet just outside shoulder width with your toes pointing slightly out and elevate your heels on a one-inch platform (the height can vary but high is good).
  • Squat down by breaking at the hips (hips moving slightly backward) and the knees (knees moving slightly forward and out to the side).
  • Try to get your bum to your calves.
  • Push through your full foot to return to the top.

Target muscles: Quadriceps and glutes

Lunge

Lunge For Big Legs

Lunges are the most versatile leg exercise that you can do at home. You can perform forward, lateral, reverse, or walking lunges to spice up your workout. You can even manipulate your body position and stride length to target different muscles.

For example, leaning forward will place more emphasis on the glutes whereas being more upright will target your quads. A longer step will also target the glutes while shorter steps will target your quads.

Reverse lunges will also target your glutes more than forward lunges. So, depending on your goal, you can select the lunge variation right for you. Here’s how to lunge effectively:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step forward, sideways, or backward to perform the forward, lateral, or reverse lunge.
  • There should be one smooth motion from when your foot touches the ground and lowering your hips straight down.
  • Push back to the starting position. If performing walking lunges, push with the front leg and bring the back leg forward.

Target muscles: Quadriceps and glutes

Front And Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Front and Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

This is the split squat on steroids. We know that a full range of motion equals greater muscle growth. By taking that range of motion to the extreme, we can place the muscle fibers under even greater stretch inducing a bigger muscle-building response.

For this, you’ll need to elevate both feet. So, you’ll either need two boxes or even two bumper plates to stand on. It doesn’t need to be too high. Here is how you do this exercise:

  • Stagger your feet in a lunge stance with both feet elevated on your box or plates.
  • Lower your hips straight down. Your front shin should be close to vertical.
  • Stop once you feel a strong stretch or your back knee touches the floor. Push through both feet to return to the starting position.

Target muscles: Quadriceps and glutes

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat Without Weights

The Bulgarian split squat (or rear foot elevated split squat) is another great single-leg squat variation. Because your back leg is elevated, it makes your front leg work harder compared to a traditional split squat. Here is how to do this exercise:

  • Stand a few feet in front of your couch. Place one leg on the couch. I prefer having my foot flat to being on my toes with the elevated foot.
  • Lower your hips straight down until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Push with the front leg to return to the starting position.

Target muscles: Quadriceps and glutes

Swiss Ball Leg Curl

Swiss Ball Leg Curl
Swiss Ball Leg Curl End

Training your hamstrings effectively is the hardest without weights (in fact, I have 13 brutal hamstring exercises you can do at home). There are plenty of squat variations for your quads and glutes. Unfortunately, they don’t train your hamstrings very well. You can purchase a Swiss ball for as little as $10 if you don’t have one.

The hamstrings are biarticular meaning they cross two joints, the hip, and the knee. So, to effectively train the hamstrings, both knee flexion and hip extension exercises should be used. Hip extension exercises are easier to perform without weights or equipment.

Knee flexion exercises are near impossible without some equipment. That’s where the Swiss ball comes in. Here’s how to do this exercise:

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your heels and calves on the Swiss ball.
  • Lift your hips so there is a straight line from your feet to your shoulders.
  • Keeping this position, pull your heels towards your bum.
  • Slowly extend your legs to the starting position.

Target muscles: Hamstrings

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

This is a way of targeting the hamstrings through hip extension. The Romanian deadlift with no weights isn’t challenging at all. But do the exercise on one leg and it becomes a lot more difficult. Here is how to do this exercise effectively:

  • Bend your stance leg slightly so your knee is slightly bent.
  • Pretend your hips are a pivot point like a see-saw.
  • Rotate around your hips keeping a straight line from your head to the heel of your free leg.
  • Lower yourself close to horizontal. You should feel a great hamstring stretch.
  • Reverse the movement to get back to the starting position.

Target muscles: Hamstrings & glutes

Hip Thrust

Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is an exercise that will preferentially target your glutes. The burn you get will be like no other exercise on this list. While this is a list of exercises to do without weights, you can use your significant other as weight. Just have them sit on your hips!

Here is how to do the hip thrust:

  • Place your shoulder blades against the couch with your feet on the floor and your hips slightly off the floor.
  • For added stability, have your elbows on the couch.
  • Push through your heels and raise your hips and squeeze your glutes.
  • Lower your hips back to the starting position while keeping the pressure on your heels.

Target muscles: Glutes

Pistol Squat

Pistol Squat For Big Legs

The pistol squat is only for advanced trainees. I repeat, only for advanced trainees. If you have a solid base of strength, pistol squats can help build your leg mass, especially without weights. If you struggle to get into the bottom position, you can use your couch as a guide to sit down to and provide support.

I would advise doing pistol squats on an elevated surface like a box or the edge or large steps. This will allow your free leg to hang down rather than being held in front which can be very uncomfortable.

Here is how to pistol squat:

  • Stand with your leg hanging off the side of your elevated surface.
  • Place your arms in front of you for balance as you squat down.
  • Try to get your bum to your calves.
  • Balance will be hard and this will take a lot of practice.

Target muscles: Quadriceps and glutes

Home Workout For Big Legs Without Weights

Here is how you can piece these exercises together into an at home workout for big legs without weights. I will give you a beginner program and an advanced program.

Beginner Home Workout For Big Legs No Weights

Exercise

Set/Rep

A1) Heels Elevated Bodyweight Squat

1 x 50, 2 x 20 w/ 10 sec ISO hold last rep

B1) Hip Thrust

3 x 15 1 & ½ reps

C1) Swiss Ball Leg Curl

3 x 10

D1) Reverse Lunge

3 x 10/leg

Advanced Home Workout For Big Legs No Weights

Exercise

Set/Rep

A1) Heels Elevated Bodyweight Squat

2 x 100

B1) Front and Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

3 x 15-20 + 10 partials bottom position

C1) Pistol Squat

3 x 10

D1) Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

4 x 15-20 w/ 10sec ISO bottom position

E1) Swiss Ball Leg Curl

3 x 15-20

Summary

There are no more excuses if you're stuck at home to not be training your wheels. Follow the advice in this article to get big legs at home without weights. But it's not for the faint-hearted! These workouts will challenge you physically and mentally.

References

1. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.

2. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.

3. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Potential mechanisms for a role of metabolic stress in hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training. Sports medicine, 43(3), 179-194.

4. Oranchuk, D. J., Storey, A. G., Nelson, A. R., & Cronin, J. B. (2019). Isometric training and long‐term adaptations: Effects of muscle length, intensity, and intent: A systematic review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 29(4), 484-503.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

Want More Great Content?

Check Out These Articles