Leg Exercises

Leg exercises are hugely varied so there will always be something to keep you interested whether at the gym or at home.  The main points here are to follow the tips to ensure you do not injure yourself, while maximising your results.

Alternating lunges:

These are excellent to help you achieve better strength and stability of the core muscles. This is a great exercise to help your sense of balance too. Working the glutes, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings, the alternating lunge is harder than a stationary one since you have to press back to return to the standing position.

Lunging Tips:

  • Try to perform alternating lunges as part of your strength training routine, at least 2-3 times a week is good.
  • Exhale as you lunge, inhale as you return to starting position.
  • Take a long step forward as if the knee goes over the toes, this may cause stress to joints and ligaments.
  • Keep your back straight, lean slightly backwards.
  • Always keep the heel of the the back leg off the ground to avoid over stretching the Achilles tendon.
  • Feet should be slightly less than shoulder width apart, turn the front heel outwards slightly to help you balance if you need to.

Dumbbell Lunges:

These are essentially alternating lunges but with extra resistance as you may find that you find working with your own body weight too easy after a while.

  • With an overhand grip, hold the dumbbells in each hand. If you prefer, you can place a barbell over your shoulders.

Squats (barbell):

Barbell squats are great for adding extra intensity to regular squats, but there are a couple of essential guidelines you need to bear in mind to get the best out of your workout.

  • Knee tracking – point toes slightly outwards to accommodate the angle of the knee as it bends, aim for the second toe.
  • As you are aiming to squat with a 90 degree angle with quadriceps parallel to the floor; it is better to squat with a lighter weight until you can achieve this, before going heavier.

Technique:

  1. Begin with the feet turned outwards slightly, hip width apart.
  2. Use your quadriceps as you bend down to pick up the bar, never use your back.
  3. Place it behind your head on the trapezius muscles, some people find this awkward, especially if the bar is heavy – there are bar pads available to cushion it.
  4. Squeeze your abdominal muscles by bringing your navel in towards your spine to protect your back.
  5. Bend the knees into a squat, go deep into a 90 degree angle while engaging the glutes.
  6. As you come back up, keep the knees soft at the top.

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