Super lower body workouts

Get your lower body in great shape with a combination of squats, lunges and stretches

Toning legsStrengthen the muscles of your lower body because doing so gives power and stability to your entire body. Having strong lower body muscles helps in everyday physical activities and sporting activities like walking, running, and swimming. If you yearn for a well-toned lower body, read on.

The large lower body muscles include - the quadriceps [front thigh], the hamstrings [back thigh], the glutes [buttocks] and the calves. The best way to tone them is by doing body weight exercises and adding weights, slowly and progressively. If you want to get stronger, choose free weights rather than machine weights. The machine is bolted to the floor; thus the stability required to perform the exercise is lesser compared to performing the exercise with free weights. When you use free weights, the effort required to stabilise the body is more and, thus, the stabiliser muscles also get strong with the other prime working muscles. This is very important for any sporting or day-to-day activities. An imbalance is created between the prime muscles and the stabiliser muscles if you train on machines. This can lead to injuries in the long run.

Here is a list of exercises to tone the lower body muscles. All the exercises can also be performed using the barbell, dumbbells and medicinal balls. However, weights should be added only after you can perform the exercises with ease.

Squats

This is one of the best exercises to tone the lower body muscles. This exercise not only tones your lower body but also strengthens your back. People with back problems must learn to squat. It teaches them how to use the lower body muscles without overusing them.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with toes not more than at a 30 degree angle.
  • Suck your navel in towards the spine
  • Place your arms at shoulder level and keep your back as erect as possible as you squat down on the floor. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
  • Now press your heels into the floor as you come back to starting position.
  • Breathe out as you squat down and breathe in as you come up.

Repeat 10-20 times. Do 2-3 sets; rest for 30 seconds between sets.

For best results, exercise 2-3 times a week.

Precautions

  • Do not bend the back forward
  • Make sure the knees are in line with the toes
  • Knees shouldn't go beyond the toes as you squat down
  • Never compromise on form or it will result in injury sooner or later. Always progress slowly.

Lunges

This is a unilateral exercise for the lower body.

  • Stand in a split stance [with one leg in front and one at the back].
  • Make sure your feet are about 2-3 feet away. Initially, take support of a wall with one hand.
  • Suck your navel in and hold your lower abdominal muscles in.
  • Now, bend both your knees till the back knee almost touches the floor and then come up.
  • Breathe out as you go down and breathe in as you come up.

Repeat 10-15 times and then do it again with other leg in front. Do 2-3 sets; rest for 30-45 seconds between sets.

For best results, exercise 2-3 times a week.

Precautions

  • Keep the torso erect
  • The knees should not wobble
  • The front knee should not go beyond the toes as you lunge down
  • Concentrate on using the lower part of the leg in front
  • Do not extend the back as you perform the exercise
  • Never compromise on form or it will result in injury sooner or later. Always progress slowly.

Step-ups

    ? Place one foot on an exercise step board. The height of the step should be such that when the foot is on the step, the hip and knee should be in line with each other. The knee should not be higher than the hip.? Breathe in as you step up on the board and breathe out as you step down.? You can either step with the right leg 10-15 times, and then switch to the left leg or you can even alternate legs.? Always keep the navel sucked in and the lower abdominal muscles held in throughout the set.

Do two to three sets, rest for 30-45 seconds between each set.

For best results, exercise 2-3 times a week.

Precautions

  • Keep the torso erect
  • The knees should not wobble
  • The knee, which is on the step, should not go beyond the toes as you step up
  • Concentrate on using the lower body muscles of the leg which is on the step board and press the heel of the foot into the step as you climb up
  • Never compromise on form or it will result in injury sooner or later. Always progress slowly.

Calf raises

This exercise strengthens the calf muscles.

  • Place half your foot [both feet] on a stable platform.
  • Keep the navel sucked in to activate the lower abdominal muscles.
  • Raise your body up on your toes and then slowly take the heels down.

Repeat 10-20 times. Do 2-3 sets, rest for 30-45 seconds between sets.

For best results, exercise 2-3 times a week.

Precautions

  • Keep the torso erect
  • The knees should be straight
  • Never compromise on form or it will result in injury sooner or later. Always progress slowly.

Always remember

The exercises must be performed under correct supervision of a qualified fitness professional, or else it can result in orthopaedic problems. Also, not everyone can do all the above mentioned exercises. The exercises have to be decided by the fitness trainer.

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