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I want to make my legs more symmetrical to my upper body. They need to catch up slightly. I can easily achieve that with weights but I wish to achieve it with body weight exercises instead since I suffer from lower back pain and prefer not to squat with weights.

So far I have been doing sprints and pistols. Both were helpful but it seems like I got the maximum out of these. Also I am not a big fan of the pistols for they really make my knees feel not right. I combine them with some easier exercises like wall squats or jump squats but I am not mentioning these for they don't do all that much. I need something that will stimulate the muscles more. If not an exercise than a different strategy of how to combine these - sets, reps, etc.?

I have been looking online for materials but can't really find anything good for gaining muscle mass in the legs. Any suggestions are welcome, thank you in advance.

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Just curious, why body weight exercises specifically? –  JohnP Nov 3 '13 at 1:54
    
Because I have lower back problems so I don't want to squat with weights. Other than that it's a challenge to see how well I can do with body weight only. –  Arthlete Nov 3 '13 at 10:30
    
Ok, you do not wish to squat with weights - but even then, only bodyweight might still be a bit too restrictive imo. What about ankle weights, resistance bands etc. You'd probably need such things to work towards pistols given the knee issue you mentioned. I would very much like to see an answer to this question, one that would also address the knee issue. –  BKE Nov 4 '13 at 11:10
    
But you see I don't lack strength for the pistols, I feel too much strain in my knees. Anyways I do use ankle weights and rubber bands but as secondary exercises. I am involved in gymnastics and when I workout on the rings I can pretty much exercise everything except for legs. So 30% of my workout is on the rings which is the majority of all the stimulation that my muscles get. Then I finish with rubber bands. I need a main exercise to stimulate my legs how the iron cross stimulates my biceps, chest, shoulders. –  Arthlete Nov 4 '13 at 20:03
    
You might find this useful: Ido Portal and to a lesser extent Coach Sommer, both enormous bodyweight-exercise and gymnastics devotees, are quite frank about the limited utility of BW work for lower body muscle development. –  Dave Liepmann Nov 20 '13 at 17:32
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2 Answers 2

When it comes to body-weight, there is one limitation and that's the fact that you can't increase the weight to put more pressure on the muscle. However there is one thing which most forget, and it's such a simple trick to hype up the pressure and still not to be dependent on the weights which may not be preferred from one athlete to the other. Due to issues such as back problem, limited equipment and injuries. The key is:

Stay Single

Exercise the legs separately, one leg at a time. Such an strange feeling to start with if you haven't tried yet. I leg press 300kgs for 20 reps and I thought about it and came to conclusion I'll do 300/2=150 with one leg. I failed!! 80ks, sometimes 90 is the max. but you may ask why?

When you do a single leg workout you lose the sturdiness and support of two legs brought to each other. You lose the center and you actually need to do some balancing. Single leg body weight squats, and single leg with the other folded back calves are the must. Give it a go and let me know.

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I agree with you and know what you are talking about. But as I said above I already used the single leg squats for most of what they can offer me. Also they put too much pressure on my knees so I want to try something different. Thanks for your input, I did rep you. I am still looking for more ideas though. –  Arthlete Nov 4 '13 at 20:05
    
@Arthlete- Mainly that was what I used alot and I though i'll kinda let everybody who is reading the question know. I'll let you know if I get any answers talking to some legends about it. –  Mehrad Nov 4 '13 at 22:43
    
@Hituptony- Thanks for the corrections mate. –  Mehrad Nov 4 '13 at 22:43
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So I was looking for an answer myself. I was thinking about athletes who do a lot of body weight exercises for their sport and remembered about ballet dancers. I am providing 2 photos to illustrate their lower body physique:

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So I found some exercises presented by the black guy in the middle of the second photo on this link: Christopher Cuomo

And I also found one more leg workout from a male ballet dancer. Tyler from RW Ballet Workout Video

I will try these tomorrow, they look like exercises for women. I can't imagine people gaining muscle this way but photos speak for themselves. I hope to see some other ideas as well.

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Those workouts seem to consist of leg lifts, squats, and some ab work. I would consider the fact that these guys are doing tremendous amounts of these basic exercises, plus carries and holds of their partners, and that might be the greater factor in their leg physique. Also, don't discount the weighted work that some male ballet dancers do: "To create long, lean muscles without building bulk, use heavier weights and low repetition." –  Dave Liepmann Nov 4 '13 at 21:39
    
Yes but their partners are usually rather light which cannot compare to a barbell in the gym. I also thought about them training with weights, that is a possibility but they really don't need it. Their goal is to perform better and look well. Both can be achieved without weights further more weight training is often counter productive for what they do. Thanks for linking me to the article however. –  Arthlete Nov 5 '13 at 23:11
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Nothing is like a barbell in the gym, but my point is that these guys didn't get big legs with a few leg lifts and air squats. I'm only guessing, but I'd attribute their leg development to a phenomenal number of repetitions of fundamental ballet positions on the barre, supplemental weighted work, lots of leaping ballet moves, and numerous long-time-under-tension partner carries. If you want ballet legs, do ballet instead of Men's Health "ballet lite". –  Dave Liepmann Nov 5 '13 at 23:27
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