14 No-Equipment Exercises for Perfect Thighs
Perfectly fit legs are a dream for most of us, but sometimes we’re too lazy or busy to go to the gym, and all of the appliances for home training cost so much... But there’s a way out! There are lots of effective moves to help you reach your dream body without wasting a penny.
Bright Side has collected 14 exercises that can help you tone up your legs and get rid of thigh fat without any equipment: just you, your body, and maybe your favorite music. Let’s go workout!
1. Frog bridge
We’re sure you’ve heard about the glute bridge. Now meet its amazing variation! The frog bridge is a great exercise to work your glutes, core, hips, and inner thighs.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and elbows.
- Press the soles of your feet together and spread your thighs.
- Squeeze and lift your glutes, supporting your body with your arms and the soles of your feet. Freeze for a second.
- Return to the starting position.
- Perform 2 sets of 15 reps each.
To do the exercise correctly, breathe out as you lift your glutes (keep them and your core tight and your knees relaxed, but don’t let them touch) and breathe in as you lower your body down.
Very few of us like squats, yet we can’t really deny the fact they’re extremely effective when it comes to toning up the lower body. They work your core, abs, thighs, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Stand straight keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Push your hips back, lowering your body as much as possible.
- Then go back to the initial position.
- Do 3 sets of 15 reps each.
Ensure that your back remains straight and your knees don’t extend beyond your toes or go inward. Inhale when you squat and exhale as you go up.
3. Double pulse squat jumps
Squats are great, but jump squats are even better! They work glutes, hip flexors, quads, abs, calves, hamstrings, and lower back. Plus, jumping is fun, and you’ll surely experience that post-workout endorphin burst.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure your toes point slightly outward.
- Lock your hands and bend your elbows in front of you.
- Squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Slightly lift your hips (several inches is enough) and squat again.
- Now push your body up in a jump, slightly bend your knees when landing, and return to the squat position.
- Continue until you complete 3 sets lasting 30 seconds each.
Again, keep your hips back and watch that your knees don’t go beyond the toe line. Breathe in as you squat and breathe out right when you push your body into the jump.
In reality, you perform lunges every day without realizing it — when you bend down to tie your shoelaces. Lunges are great at working glutes, hips, hamstrings, core, calves, quads, and inner thighs.
- Stand straight placing your feet shoulder width apart.
- Step forward with your right leg, shifting your weight in the same direction so that your heel touches the floor first.
- Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and the knee is bent at 90° (it’s ok if it’s slightly forward, but don’t let it go beyond the toe line). When you go down, the left knee should touch the floor for a second.
- Push yourself back up with the right leg to return to the initial position.
- Repeat for the left leg and continue until you finish 20 reps for each leg.
To perform it correctly, make sure you don’t allow the heel of the front foot off the floor. Remember to also keep your back straight and in an upward position.
5. Gate swings
This exercise works on your core, glutes, and inner thighs, and it also works the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and quads. What a treasure for our perfect legs!
- First, spread your legs so that your toes point out to the sides.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back, lowering down until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Jump up, landing with your legs crossed.
- Jump again, landing with your legs wide apart and returning to the squat position.
- Repeat the exercise as many times as possible — you’ve got 40 seconds (or more if you wish).
Remember to keep your back straight and exhale as you jump.
6. Diamond kicks
Here’s another exercise for the hard-to-reach inner thighs, and your legs overall. In addition, this will also work your abs.
- First of all, lie on your back. Place your arms along your body and raise your legs.
- Bend your knees and let the soles of your feet touch.
- Stretch your legs to the sides as much as you can.
- Then, bring your straight legs together.
- Continue doing the exercise until you finish 2 30-second sets.
Watch your back — it should remain flat. Breathe in at the “frog” part and breathe out when bringing the legs together.
7. Plié squats
Like all the squats out there, plié squats target your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. The difference is, this type also works your inner thighs, so you can get rid of that annoying fat that causes chafing.
- Stand with your feet wide apart (a little more than shoulder width) and point your toes to the sides.
- Place your hands on your hips to maintain balance.
- Lower down, bending your knees at a 90° angle.
- Pause for a second and return to the initial position.
- Perform 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps each.
To perform it correctly, keep your shoulders aligned with your hips. Remember to watch that your back remains straight. Don’t forget to engage your abs by drawing them in. While going up, press on your heels to activate your inner thighs.
8. Lunge back kicks
This move works your glutes, abs, quads, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right leg to perform a lunge.
- While standing up, kick the right leg back and pause, squeezing your glutes.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat on the other leg.
- Perform 2 30-second sets (or 3, if you feel you’re able to do it).
Again, keep your back straight. Breathe in as you lunge and breathe out when doing a kick back.
9. Fire hydrant
It’s time to get closer to the ground! The fire hydrant aims at your core, hips, glutes, and thighs.
- Start with your knees and hands on the floor.
- While keeping your legs bent, raise one up and to the side at the hip level.
- Return to the initial position, do 15 reps, and switch legs.
Watch that your shoulders and wrists are aligned, as well as your knees and hips. Look at the floor beneath you and don’t arch your back. It’s also important to not shift your weight to one side — spread it evenly. Breathe in when touching the ground with all fours, and breathe out when raising your leg.
This exercise will not only train your glutes, hips, and thighs — it’ll also help you reduce lower back tension and prevent an injury by strengthening the muscles. The clamshell exercise is used in physiotherapy to ease back pain. Let’s try it together!
- Lie on your side and bend your knees at a 45° angle. Use your lower arm to support your head and place your upper arm on your hip to add some stabilization.
- Raise your upper knee as high as possible, but watch that your hips and pelvis remain in place. Don’t separate your feet — keep them together the whole time.
- Pause for a second and lower the knee down. Repeat 20 times, then switch sides.
It’s recommended to keep the abs engaged by drawing them in — this will help you add steadiness to your pelvis and spine. Watch that your hip bones remain aligned without the upper one leaning back.
11. Side plank leg raise
This one is for our pretty outer thighs, shoulders, glutes, abs, back, and obliques.
- Get into a side plank position with a little modification: support yourself with your hand and knee.
- Lift the upper leg slightly above hip level and pause.
- Lower your leg to the ground and repeat.
- Do 40 reps, 20 on each side.
To perform it correctly, watch that your abs are engaged, that your body forms a straight line (don’t let your pelvis go down), and that your lower shoulder doesn’t sink.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can balance on your elbow and your foot side, lifting the upper arm to the ceiling.
12. Pelvic tilt leg raise
Here’s another glute bridge’s brother, and it’s just as awesome (well, maybe even a little more, but shh!). This move strengthens your core, abs, and lower back, and shapes your glutes and thighs.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your arms along your body and your soles touching the floor.
- Raise one leg up toward the ceiling (remember to keep it straight).
- Lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line and pause for a second.
- Lower the hips down without lowering your leg.
- Repeat 15 times, then change legs.
Don’t forget to tighten your glutes and abs to keep the core engaged. Control your moves and try to feel your muscles working during the process.
13. Runner’s lunge to balance
Runner’s lunge to balance is great for working your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and thighs.
- Stand with your right leg in front of you, shifting your weight on to it.
- Lower down to a runner’s lunge: your right leg should be bent at a 90° angle, your knee and the toes of your left leg should be on the floor, and your fingers should be touching the ground.
- As you stand up, raise your left leg and lean forward, so that your leg, hips, and shoulders form a horizontal line. Keep your arms along your sides.
- Pause for a moment, return to the lunge position, and repeat 15 times for each leg.
Keep your glutes squeezed and your hips straight, without tilting them to either side. Otherwise, you might lose your balance.
14. Donkey kicks
This one targets your glutes, lower back, and thighs. It’s a totally easy one and thus great for beginners.
- Start on the ground, supporting yourself with your knees and hands.
- Raise your bent leg up to hip level and pause for a moment.
- Lower it down and repeat on the other leg.
- Complete 2 sets for each leg, doing 20 reps a set.
Watch your posture! Keep your spine in a neutral position and look at the floor without lifting your head (don’t repeat after the girl on the right — her back is sagging and her head is up).
When raising your leg, watch that it stays in a 90° angle. While it’s up, remember to squeeze your glutes to slightly push your leg up. And don’t shift your weight to one side — spread it evenly.
The key to success
As they say, the path to a perfect body is never an easy one. To achieve the desired results, you'll need weeks or even months of persistent workouts - and a healthy diet, of course. Yet the results are totally worth it!
What other exercises do you know for the perfect legs? Are you planning to include some of these in your workout? Which leg exercises are your favorite? Share with us in the comments!
Illustrated by Leisan Gabidullina and Yekaterina Ragozina for BrightSide.me