Training from home has a huge number of advantages. Not only does this allow you to workout in an environment of your own creation but it also means that you no longer need to travel to the gym when you’re low on energy and you no longer need to feel self-conscious training in front of strangers. It also means you don’t need to wait for the squat rack to become free anymore!
But this brings us on to our next point. Because in all likelihood there probably won’t be a squat rack. If you’re like most people with a home gym, your equipment will consist of some dumbbells and a pull up bar.
And this is fine for the vast majority of things you need to do. The problem only arises once you want to start pushing beyond those basics and start building bigger muscle. And in particular, it comes when you try to build leg strength. Because it’s much harder to train your legs with bodyweight or even with basic dumbbells. So let’s look at what you can do to solve this little challenge.
First of all, don’t write dumbbells off completely. These can be sufficient for building leg strength as long as you know how. Using heavy enough weights and performing shoulder presses for example, you can make your squats quite difficult – even if you’re not going to be able to approach the weights you use for deadlifts or for squats. In all honestly, the legs are composed of quite a lot of slow twitch muscle fiber (we rely on them to get around all day afterall) and this means that they respond well to training with lighter weights and higher volumes.
Moreover, you can also train your legs with bodyweight if you know how to make things harder. Performing one legged squats for example is a good way to squat twice your bodyweight (effectively) and also requires a lot of balance and concentration. Performing jump squats meanwhile challenges you to use explosive power.
If you then stack these exercises correctly in order to fatigue the muscle, you can create some quite punishing workouts.
The best thing to do though? Invest in a kettlebell. This is the closest thing to having a barbell in your home and especially if you get one that is sufficiently heavy. That’s because you can use it to perform deadlifts, clean and presses and even goblet squats. Depending on the weight, you may need a little help picking it up but a goblet squat can be highly challenging for the legs just as a regular squat is (the only difference being that it places a little more emphasis on the quads over the hamstrings).
Better yet, is to use the kettlebell to perform kettlebell swings – exercises that build your legs by letting you drive the weight up and forward by performing rapid squats and pushing through the floor. This is also brilliant for cardio and triggering a big anabolic hormone response!
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash