Calisthenics. Legs & Glutes.

Body weight exercises that work the thigh, calf and glute muscles are generally performed in the upright, seated, and all-fours positions. Increasing the difficulty of exercises in this class is usually accomplished through unilateral modifications (performed on one leg) or providing additional weight over and above the individual’s own body weight.

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kálos (κάλλος), which means “beauty”, and sthénos (σθένος), meaning “strength”. It is the art of using one’s body weight and qualities of inertia to develop one’s physique. A longstanding urban legend has claimed that the exercise was named after one of its earliest promotors, the Greek historian Callisthenes.

Calisthenics is a smart, scientific approach to weight loss, strength gain and living a more active, fulfilling life. This is the fifth resource in our series on calisthenics, designed so you can workout in privacy of your home or on location when travelling and can’t attend your sessions with your Tiger Athletic personal trainer without the aid of equipment, a trainer or supplements and begin to understand that you too can get healthy using just your body, the physical environment and a little imagination.

Calf Raises

Start with both feet on the edge of a raised surface, with the toes on the surface and the heels lower than the toes. The heels are raised as high as possible, then returned to the starting position. The difficulty may be increased by performing the exercise on one leg.

Variation

  • The Cliff Hanger – place on foot on the surface and hold the position held to failure in isometric tension.
  • Donkey Calf Raises – bend the waist to about 90 degrees and rest the arms on a stable surface.
  • Little Piggies – heels on the surface, moves the toes foot upwards (dorsi flexion)

Muscle Groups

  • Calves

Squat

Start in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart. The legs are bent at the knees and hips, and the torso is lowered between the legs. Hold this position for a count of 1 and stand return to the start position. The knees should remain behind the toes always.

Variation

  • Invisible Chair – back against the wall, feet one step away from the wall, knees bent at 90 degrees. Hold position to failure.
  • Wall Squat – back against the wall, feet one step forward from the wall. Slides down the wall until your knees are bent to a 90-degree angle then slide up to the start position.
  • Sumo Squat – performed with a wide stance, the body is lowered until the thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • One-Legged Squat – performed with one leg held out straight in front of the body while the other leg bears your full weight during the squat.
  • Pistol Squat – builds on the One-Legged Squat and brings the buttocks all the way down to the heel of the foot on the ground. This variety of squats is made to challenge your balance.
  • Bulgarian Split Squat – Put the rear leg on a bench, drop straight down, and make sure that the front heel always stays in contact with the ground to avoid any excess stress on the knees. Retain a tall posture throughout the whole exercise. These can work the abs, quads and glutes, as well as the ability to stabilize. Moreover, 3 sets of 6-10 reps do the job to satisfaction.
  • Sissy Squat – uses a pole or other support to hold with one hand, while the body leans backward through the squat until the buttocks are resting on the heels.

Good Mornings

Start in a standing position, hands behind the head. The body is bent at the waist and the back is kept straight until the legs and torso form a 90-degree angle. The torso is returned slowly to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Dirty Dogs

Start in an all-fours position, then lifts one knee off the ground and swings the knee out to the side as far as possible, maintaining the bent knee at a 90-degree angle. The leg is then returned to the starting position and the exercise is then performed with the other leg.

Variation

  • Mule Kick variant is performed by straightening the leg as it is lifted away from the body as high as possible.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes
  • Lower back
  • Hip flexors

Standing Side Leg Lift

Stand with their feet hip-width apart. The leg is lifted to the side in a slow, controlled manner until it forms a 45-degree angle with the stationary leg. The leg is then returned to the starting position and the exercise performed on the other side. One hand may be rested on a chair or other stable surface for support.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Lower back

Standing Leg Curls

Start with the feet shoulder-width apart. The leg is lifted from the ground, with the knee bent, and the foot curled in toward the buttocks. The leg is returned to the starting position and the exercise performed on the other side. One or two hands may be rested on a chair or other stable surface for support.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

One-Legged Romanian Dead Lifts

Start in a standing position with the feet together. Bending at the waist, one leg is raised in the air while the hand reaches for the floor. The leg is lowered to the starting position and the body returned to the upright position. The leg and back should stay straight always during the exercise.

Muscle Groups

  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back
  • Core

Hip Extensions

Start with the back resting on the ground, and the legs bent at 90 degrees with the feet resting on an elevated surface such as a chair. Using only the legs, the hips are pushed up as high as possible, held in contraction for a moment, then lowered to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

King of the Klutz

Stand on one leg, body held vertically, closes the eyes, then holds the position for as long as possible. The difficulty may be increased by performing the exercise on a soft or unstable surface.

Muscle Groups

  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors

Bam Bams

Lie in a prone position on a raised, horizontal surface so the legs may project freely beyond the edge of the surface and the toes rest on the ground. The legs are then spread as wide as possible, then raised slowly and brought together until the heels touch. The feet are then returned to the ground. The legs are held as straight as possible throughout the exercise.

Muscle Groups

  • Glutes

Ham Sandwich

Kneel on the ground, with the feet anchored under a solid surface, or held to the ground by another person. The body is then lowered until the chest is touching the ground. The individual then uses a plyometric movement with the arms to return to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

  • Hamstrings
  • Pectorals
  • Shoulders

Beat Your Boots

The feet are placed together on the ground and the individual bends at the waist to grab the ankles, with the legs kept straight. The knees are then bent until the buttocks touch the ankles. The body is then returned to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps

The Arabesque

The arabesque is a technique that is borrowed from the ballet moves. It works excellently for the butt muscles and does not even make the use of free weights. However, if you want to add cuffs or ankle weights, you need to follow the following procedure. Place your hands on the back of the chair or on a railing and lift one leg behind you as high as possible, while holding your glutes and squeezing them for a count of about 4 or 5. Make sure to maintain an upright position so that you do not stress your lower back instead of the glutes.

Muscle Groups

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

The Duck Walk

Duck walks shape your butt. The procedure to do this exercise is to assume and hold a squatting position while walking forward for the repetitions and then walk backwards in the same positions for the repetitions.

Muscle Groups

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

Tiger Athletic Fitness & Conditioning uses personal training to assess, motivate, educate and train you in a private, modern appointment only strength and conditioning in the heart of Sandton. Our rigorous pre-participation health appraisal screening process ensures that we design and deliver comprehensive exercise programs that safely and effectively meet your goals. Start your own Tiger Athletic fitness program by booking your initial interview.

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