No squats, no lunges – Build leg muscles with this knee-friendly bodyweight workout in just 20 minutes

Don't let joint pain compromise your exercise routine; try this quick home workout instead

30 weeks pregnant woman exercising at home. Sitting on exercise mat and working stretching exercise, stretching her legs. Overhead view.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

No one should skip leg day, especially when leg workouts like this are available. In just 20 minutes, you can improve leg muscle definition using nothing but bodyweight exercises. Better still, this home exercise session uses no squats or lunges to achieve the best results. All you need is an exercise mat and a pair of decent workout shoes, and you're ready to go!

It might not feel that way, but bodyweight workouts are resistance training (RT), which means you can enjoy the benefits of RT without using dumbbells or barbells. Research shows that "resistance exercise training has profound effects on the musculoskeletal system, contributes to the maintenance of functional abilities, and prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia, lower-back pain, and other disabilities," as well as many other things.

This low-impact workout targets the legs, thighs, and glutes without squats or lunges. In just 20 minutes, you'll work all major muscle groups in your lower body. Moves usually last 30 seconds, but you'll do alternating exercises for a full minute. There is plenty of rest between moves. Do the full set below twice over.

  • Side leg lift (left) - 30 sec
  • Side leg lift (right) - 30 sec
  • Rest - 30 sec
  • Straight leg kick-back (left) - 30 sec
  • Straight leg kick-back (right) - 30 sec
  • Rest - 30 sec
  • Alternating single-leg glute bridge - 60 sec
  • Rest - 30 sec
  • Heel touches - 30 sec
  • Heel pulses - 30 sec
  • Rest - 30 sec
  • Inner thigh taps (left) - 30 sec
  • Inner thigh taps (right) - 30 sec
  • Rest - 30 sec
  • Circle donkey kicks (left) - 30 sec
  • Circle donkey kicks (right) - 30 sec
  • Glute bridge going into leg opener with pulse - 60 sec

If you liked the above session, you'll love this 20-minute knee-friendly workout that builds muscles in your legs in a low-impact fashion without squats. There is also this 6-minute no-equipment leg workout for bigger calves and stronger quads and another 15-minute bodyweight home leg workout for a quick lower body fix.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.