10 Power Plyometric Leg Exercises You Need to Start Doing
The Best Plyometric Exercises for Your Legs
You already know bodyweight leg exercises are legit. They work whether you're at the gym, in a park, or hanging out in your living room feelin' lazy about that GoT marathon you just indulged in. But there's an easy way to up the ante without adding equipment: jump. Incorporating explosive plyometric exercises for your legs—squats, lunges, and other moves—makes your workout *that* much harder.
"Plyometric leg exercises are explosive movements that will increase your power and overall strength," says Katie Dunlop, a personal trainer, and creator of Orange County, CA-based Love Sweat Fitness.
Perform these types of movements—without weights and at your maximum effort—and you'll up your burn while strengthening your legs and glutes. Short on time? It'll take you less than 30 minutes to work through this circuit of leg exercises. Do each for 30 seconds, rest for 30, then move on to the next (and if you're *really* short on time, check out this plyometric challenge your legs will love to hate). As you get stronger, you can increase speed and fit in more reps.
Explosive Star Jump
Start with feet hip-width apart. With weight in heels, lower into a deep squat. Push through heels and explode up, bringing arms overhead and legs out, as if doing a jumping jack. Landing gently from toe to heel, immediately lower back into a deep squat and repeat.
Start in a curtsy lunge position, left leg behind the right and left hand on the floor. Explode up, switching legs and hand in midair. That's 1 rep. Repeat, quickly moving side to side. Related: Why You Should Add Lateral Exercises to Your Workouts.
Start in a reverse lunge, making sure front knee doesn't go past ankle. Swing arms to help propel you and explode up, switching leg positions midair. Land gently, immediately lowering into another lunge. Quickly repeat, switching legs each time.
Start with feet just slightly wider than hip-width apart. Squat down, bringing hands to the floor. Push through heels and toes and explode up. Land gently from toe to heel, immediately lowering back into a squat. And BTW: Before you do a squat jump, you want to make sure you have squat form nailed down.
Start with feet shoulder-width apart with heels in, toes slightly out. Squat down, bringing hands to the floor, butt tucked under (in a frog-like position). Push through heels and explode up, reaching arms overhead. Landing gently from toe to heel, immediately lower hands back down to the floor and repeat.
Start with feet hip-width apart. Bend over, placing hands on the floor about a foot in front of feet. Engaging core, bend knees and kick one heel up toward the sky, as if attempting to go into a handstand. With control, drop the leg back to the ground. Kick off again, this time with other heel. Continue alternating sides. Make it harder by kick up with both heels at the same time.
Start with feet shoulder-width apart with heels in, toes slightly out. Squat down with butt tucked under, bringing hands to the floor. Push through heels and explode up and forward, reaching arms overhead. Land gently from toe to heel. Repeat while trying to jump up and forward a few feet each time.
Reverse Lunge Knee-Up
Start in a reverse lunge (and make sure you know how to do a lunge the right way before you begin), bringing the opposite hand of forward leg toward the floor. Explode up, pushing off the front toes and driving back knee up toward the sky. Land softly, immediately lowering back into reverse lunge, hand on floor. Continue for 30 seconds on same leg. In second set, switch legs.
Plank to Squat
Start in a high plank (here's how to do a high plank, BTW), shoulders stacked over wrists, core engaged. Gently bend knees and hop forward, bringing feet to the outside of hands to land in a deep squat. Push through the hands to lift hips and jump back into a plank.
Start with feet hip-width apart. Bring weight into heels as you sit back and down slightly (not into a full squat). Swing arms and explode up, tucking knees into chest while bringing elbows to meet in the middle. Land gently from toe to heel.