Stronger legs will help you move faster, jump higher and be more explosive with athletic activities. It will also improve overall balance and decrease the chances of getting an injury to your knees and lower back. Undoubtedly, it’s extremely important to strengthen and develop your lower body. Whether sitting, standing, squatting, or walking, your lower body plays a huge role in keeping you mobile and active. In addition, strength training exercises can help you get stronger for activities you may do less often, like working in the yard, climbing stairs, or running. It’s incredible how much of a difference a little bit of lower body training can make in my overall fitness and well-being.
So If you want to strengthen and tone your legs, these are the six best exercises you can do. They can be particularly challenging. However, It’s incredible how much of a difference a little bit of lower body training can make in your overall fitness and well-being.
Here are six of the most dreaded leg workouts and why you should do them:
Squats are one of the best workouts for building general strength and muscle because they allow you to lift a far higher weight than any other activity. Squats can work multiple muscles at once because they are a compound exercise. When performing a full-range squat with high weights, the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, glutes, and calves are all worked. The lower back must resist the bar’s downward force to maintain neutral spine alignment. So if you’re looking for a challenging but effective leg workout, don’t be afraid to incorporate squats into your routine. They’re essential for building lower body strength and improving overall stability.
How do you do squats correctly?
1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width and your toes pointed forward.
2. Drive your hips back while keeping your knees slightly open and bending at the ankles and knees.
3. Maintaining your heels and toes on the floor on an exhale, try to pull your navel into your back to engage your deep abdominal muscles, which keep the spine and pelvis stable.
Lower down, as if sitting in an invisible chair position while keeping your chest up and shoulders back.
4. Go as deep as you can comfortably. Aim to eventually reach parallel, which is achieved when the knees are at a 90-degree angle.
5. To stand up straight again, keep your heels “glued” to the floor. Push into your heels and straighten your legs but be careful not to lock your knees.
They suck, I know, but you can’t skip out on an exercise JUST because you don’t like it.
Some people find the split-leg stance uncomfortable because it makes them feel unsteady. In addition, lunges might bother the knees of certain people. Lunges are a unilateral exercise that forces the exerciser to support all their body weight—plus any external loads they may be carrying—on one leg, which requires a lot of lower-body strength and stability. But hate them or love them, lunges are one of the best exercises out there for toning and strengthening your lower body. Not only do they work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but they also engage your core and help improve your balance. So whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, lunges are definitely worth incorporating into your workout routine.
How do you make lunges properly for beginners?
- Place your right foot 2 to 3 feet in front of your left foot while standing in a split stance. Your hands are on your hips, your body is straight, your shoulders are back and down, and your core is engaged.
- Bend the knees and lower your body until the back knee is a few inches from the floor. At the bottom of the movement, your front thigh should be parallel to the ground, your rear knee should be pointing down, and your weight should be evenly distributed between both legs.
- Maintaining your weight on the front foot’s heel, Push back up to the starting position.
Want to get bigger, stronger, leaner? Then, start doing the deadlift.
You get strong, dense legs with deadlifts because they put a lot of workload on your lower body, particularly your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Therefore, your leg strength will increase when you incorporate deadlifts into your training program. In addition, deadlifts are a very functional movement because they aid in various daily activities. By doing this, you’ll have a lower chance of hurting yourself while carrying groceries, changing a tire, moving furniture, etc.
How to Do Deadlifts
1. Place your midfoot beneath the barbell while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Maintain a straight back, hinge your hips, and stoop to take a shoulder-width grip on the barbell.
3. Bring the barbell to your body as closely as you can.
4. Relax your neck down and maintain a straight gaze.
5. Extend your shoulders back and keep your back straight. Lift your chest.
6. At the apex of the movement, completely extend your hips while lifting the weight and maintaining the barbell as close to your body as possible.
7. Lower the weight back to the floor by sliding it down your thighs.
The sumo deadlift is the best exercise for developing significant lower-body strength. As a compound exercise, it engages several muscular groups simultaneously. For example, the quads, glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings are worked out in the sumo deadlift version, which also works the core.
The sumo is a fantastic workout for increasing hip flexibility and mobility. The proper sumo technique requires a wide stance, encouraging the hips to expand and broaden their range of motion.
How to Do Sumo Deadlifts
1. Start by placing your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and pointing your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Your toes should be in line with your knees.
2. Bend down and grip the barbell with your hands placed inside your legs/ knees. This avoids rounding your upper back.
3. Lift the barbell so that it’s resting on your thighs.
4. Take a deep breath in and brace your core. This will help to protect your lower back.
5. Begin the lift by pushing through your heels and keeping your chest up. Next, extend your hips and knees until you’re standing upright with the barbell in front of your thighs.
6. Reverse the movement by hinging at the hips and bending your knees until the barbell is back on your thighs. Then, return to the starting position and repeat.
7. Once the barbell reaches the floor, drive through your heels and hips to stand tall. Exhale as you stand up and squeeze your glutes at the movement’s top.
8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Bulgarian split squats
The Bulgarian split squat is a single-leg squat variation in which the back leg is raised on a solid chair or bench. The exercise targets the quadriceps more than other comparable lower-body compound motions since it is a unilateral, single-leg squat.
Due to the movement’s complex, balance-focused design, it’s a good idea to incorporate it toward the start of a session, possibly following a thorough warmup and a few compound moves that provide a bilateral focus, such as classic squats, Romanian deadlifts, or barbell snatches.
How to Do Bulgarian split squats
You only need a bench or a solid chair for the simplest Bulgarian split squat. Dumbbells or kettlebells can provide more resistance as you get more accustomed to the activity.
1. Standing around two feet in front of a stable bench or chair, place your feet hip-width apart, engage your core, pull your shoulders back, and keep your chest and eyes pointing straight ahead.
2. Put your right foot on the bench behind you. There are two ways to go about doing this. The top of your foot can be placed on the bench in one position such that your ankle joint is nearly in line with the edge of the bench. The alternative is to flex your ankle and balance more like you would during a regular lunge exercise by using your toes and the ball of your foot.
3. Ensure your feet are still somewhat wider than the hip apart. It will be harder to balance if your elevated foot is behind your front.
4. Remember that the front leg is the focal point of the exercise; the back foot serves only to keep you balanced.
5. Engage your core with your chest high and eyes looking straight ahead, and bend your left knee, allowing your right knee and ankle to naturally bend as you move through the downward phase of the exercise without taking on the load with your back leg.
6. Keep the load equally distributed across your left foot as you drop. To keep your left knee from bending inward or outward, lean slightly forward at the hips. Near the end of the exercise, your left knee starts to jut out over your left toe slightly. Depending on your degree of comfort and the flexibility you have at your disposal, this isn’t inherently bad or wrong.
7. As you descend, take a deep breath and lower yourself until your left quadriceps are nearly parallel to the ground.
8. Push through your left foot as you return to standing, utilizing your left quad and glute to drive the upward portion of the exercise. Exhale as you press yourself to stand.
9. After finishing a full set to one side, take a step with your right foot away from the bench or chair. Make sure you maintain balance by giving each side the same number of repetitions and sets.
A box jump is a plyometric exercise, meaning athletes must use maximum force to complete the jumps successfully. They are an excellent tool for general fitness, working your hamstrings and glutes, firing your core, and stabilizing your calf muscles and ankles. That’s a lot of power development, especially in your lower body, and it can come in handy for other full-body movements and weight training. They’re great for youth athletes and the average person because jumping spikes your heart rate, meaning it’s cardio to the max. Pick up the speed, and you’re working your total body and honing your agility.
This challenging workout targets you:
Performing Box Jumps Safely
- Begin in an athletic position, with your feet hip distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent.
- Bend your knees into a squat. In one explosive movement, swing your arms back and spring up from the balls of your feet to jump onto the box.
- Your landing position is also in a squat. Land softly, letting your hips and knees absorb the shock of the landing. Plant your feet.
- Depending on the training cycle, you can end by either standing vertically or staying in a squat. Get back down either by stepping or performing a gentle depth jump back on the floor, depending on the box height.
Legday is only complete by adding this unilateral exercise to your training. Step-ups are a relatively simple exercise; It looks so simple because all you do is place your foot on a bench and step up, but they can be incredibly challenging when performed with proper form and resistance. They target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes and can help improve balance and stability. While some may dread these leg workouts, they’re essential for building lower body strength, power, and athleticism. Incorporate them into your workout routine, and you’ll see the results in no time!
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March is the founder and owner of The Barbell Beauties which she started in 2015. She is from the Philippines and currently lives in beautiful Thailand with her American husband and daughter. She is an avid Crossfitter and has just started her journey into Muay Thai (kickboxing).