Training legs can be a minefield. You know what you want to achieve but you’re not entirely sure which exercises to choose to get the most out of your legs, and the maximum benefit and results with the time you have available. We at Fitnorama wanted to shine a light of hope and give you our top 7 lower body exercises and give you a greater insight on how to structure them into a result building gem of a workout, and that will give you bigger bang for your buck. it’s time to get your legs toned, shaped and ready for the summer.
The squat is regarded as one of the best exercise for shaping your entire lower body. This powerhouse movement can result in great improvements in lower back, core and thigh strength, but only when practiced correctly! The squat is commonly performed with a loaded barbell braced on the fleshy part of the upper back, specifically the trapezius muscle, for the duration of the exercise. However there are plenty of alternative variations to suit first time squatters and those with limited equipment access. The main muscles involved in the squat are the quadriceps, the gluteals or buttocks, the erector spinae muscles o f the lower back, abs, and the hamstrings on the back of the legs.
The deadlift is known as a back builder within the weight training world, but this compound exercise has built up a bit of a bad reputation and is often avoided. Spinal disc injuries are common when the deadlift is performed incorrectly. The main muscles involved in the deadlift are the erector spinae; the muscles running up the lower back, gluteus maximus also known as your bum, adductor magnus or inner thighs, hamstring, and quadriceps as the primary driving force. The exercise is preformed with a loaded barbell. Stand facing the barbell and the legs hip wide apart; bend your knees until the thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Then lift the bar by straightening your legs in a controlled manner. Don’t round your back though – that may lead to injury.
The lunge can either be performed weighted using a pair of dumbbells or a barbell, or un-weighted using bodyweight only. The lunge requires a good sense of balance so it’s a good idea to start practicing the un-weighted variation if you’re new to this exercise. The exercise is performed in a split stance. Take a large step forward from a normal standing position and then lower the back knee down towards the floor in a controlled manner. Stand back up again repeat leading with the opposite leg. All four individual muscles of the quadriceps are heavily involved in this exercise, as are the glutes and hamstrings.
The walking lunge is an exercise that requires a good sense of balance and coordination. The exercise is performed by taking a large step forwards and lowering the back knee down towards the floor in a controlled manner, stepping through and repeating, walking in a straight line. Much like the squat, the lunge has the same versatility and can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells or your simply bodyweight.
The leg extension, unlike the squat and lunge, is a fixed resistance machine exercise. This isolates the quadriceps and is a less technically demanding movement. The leg extension is most commonly performed in a seated position. Your lower legs are placed against the ankle pad, simply extend your knees against the resistance offered by the machine.
Your gluteus maximus will thank you for this exercise! The hip bridge is an effective and underused mat exercise that not only engages your glutes, but it also braces your core muscles. To perform, simply lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze you tummy tight and raise your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower your butt back to the floor and repeat. Make this exercise more demanding by using one leg at a time.
The step up can be preformed either weighted or un-weighted and heavily targets your quads and glutes. It has the added benefit of having a functional cross-over to day to day life, and mimics everyday movements. The exercise is performed by standing in front of a bench or step. Place your left foot firmly on the step, press your left foot into the step and push your body up until your left leg is straight. Lower your body back down until your right foot touches the floor and repeat the movement on the other side.
Volume Workout and Intensity
Tailor these leg exercises to suit your individual goal, whether it is endurance, hypertrophy, and fat loss by adjusting your repetition range. Lower reps with a heavy weight will develop strength whereas lighter weights and higher reps will develop endurance. Always perform an effective warm-up before for your quad regimen and stretch the worked muscles thoroughly afterwards.