Wall sits, leg curls and leg lifts are three effective thigh exercises that don’t require any strength-training equipment — just your own body weight, so you can do them virtually anywhere, even at the office.
Here’s how to exercise with proper form.
Wall sits are also called the invisible chair. Stand with your back firmly against a wall and move your feet out in front of you by about one big step. Now slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor and make a 90-degree angle with your upper body. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
You may only be able to do a few seconds at first — gradually lengthen the hold over time. You may keep your arms along the wall for balance. To add to the challenge as you progress, hold them out in front of you. Aim for a set of three reps, and increase sets as you strengthen muscles.
Now grab a real chair for leg curls. Stand behind the chair, flex your right foot and bring your right heel toward your butt. Hold briefly, then slowly lower the foot to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs and repeat. Aim for three sets, or 30 curls, on each leg. To add to the challenge, you can wear 2- to 5-pound ankle weights.
Finally, take a seat for seated leg lifts. Hold the sides of a chair with your hands and keep your back straight. Lift just your right leg straight out and pulse it upward 10 times before lowering it. Repeat with the left leg. Keep alternating legs until you’ve done 100 pulses on each side.
The American Council on Exercise has more on body-weight exercises that work all muscle groups.