Leg day is one of the most important parts of any workout routine, as strengthening our lower bodies helps us move easier throughout the day and supports us when doing other exercises.
Knowing how important your lower body is and using it are two different things. We'll help you close that gap through the insights of Personal Trainer David Hughes on this blog! Master the art of working out your lower body muscles by following his 3 helpful warm-up moves and leg workouts.
Essential Benefits of Lower Body Strength
Our muscles in the lower body build a solid, stable foundation. Rooting your lower body in the ground also creates resistance that travels into your upper body and core muscles.
Lower body muscles are a crucial component of your health, and it is important to maintain consistency with your leg exercises. Additionally, it is easier for your body to adjust to the exercises and form healthy habits that will help you reach your fitness objectives.
Leg exercise can assist you in developing a balanced and symmetrical physique as well as in gaining more muscle–even in your upper body, burning more fat, and lowering your chance of injury.
Here are some benefits of why lower body exercises are a must, according to research:
It helps build a proportionate physique. Your upper body and lower body shouldn't be out of balance. If you frequently skip your leg day, try varying your routines to keep things interesting.
It helps to boost muscle building in the whole body. Your body’s hormones go throughout–not just your legs. By working out your lower body, you release more growth hormone and testosterone, which can aid in the development of muscle in your upper body as well.
It helps prevent lower back pain and other injuries. A more effective long-term remedy for back discomfort may involve concentrating on building your glutes and bolstering the leg muscles as well as the hips and core.
Quick Warm-up Exercises Before Your Workout
Doing warm-up exercises before any workout reduces the risk of injury, enhances your exercise form, and boosts the effectiveness of your workout. Try these warm-up moves recommended by David Hughes to get your muscles, joints, and tendons ready!
Warm-up #1: Inchworm
- Start in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart. Then, slide your arms and upper body down and put your hands to either the sides or in front of your feet. If this is too much, you can place your hands further from your feet in front.
- Start to crawl forward, one arm at a time, until you are in a high plank position with your arms and hands underneath the shoulders.
- Hold the high plank position for 1 to 2 seconds before crawling your hands back to your feet. Then, stand up, reset, and repeat.
Warm-up #2: Spider Lunge Rotations
- Start with a high plank position and step your right foot outside of your right hand. Have your left back knee rest on the floor.
- Touch your right elbow to the floor. Then, rotate the right hand and sweep your arm up to the ceiling and look up. After holding for 1 to 2 seconds, place your elbow back on the floor again. Repeat this step a few times.
- Step back to a high plank position and step your left foot outside of your left hand. Have your right back knee resting on the floor.
- Touch your left elbow to the floor. Then, rotate the left hand and sweep your arm up to the ceiling and look up. After holding for 1 to 2 seconds, place your elbow back on the floor again. Repeat this step a few times.
Warm-up #3: Toe Taps
- Start in a tabletop position and proceed to a downward-facing dog. Then, tap the outside of your right foot using your right hand, and do the same on the left side. Repeat this step a few times.
- Proceed to tap your left foot using your right hand, and vice versa. Repeat this step a few times.
Bonus Warm-up: Use a Massage Gun!
Using a massage gun before a workout will help your muscles loosen and activate. Here’s how to do it:
- Set the massage gun based on your preference. Start working from your IT band–from your hip crease down above the knee to help relax your quads. Do this step for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side.
- Massage your trap muscle (trapezius) starting on the upper side of your neck and down to your shoulders. If this is uncomfortable for you, start the massage slightly at the back of your neck. Do this step for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side.
Everyone’s body and needs vary in terms of range of motion, mobility, and joint stability. When performing warm-up activities, make sure to pay attention to your body: you shouldn’t feel any discomfort. You can add more warm-up movements if you like!
3 Best Workout Moves to Train Your Lower Body
Research has shown that a well-rounded exercise that works your complete lower body is better to lessen the danger of muscular imbalances and subsequent injury, even if you have a specific area of your legs you'd want to focus on.
Check out these lower body exercises you can try!
This exercise will give you the strength to lift heavy objects appropriately utilising your lower body—instead of your back. Squats will not only improve your body’s ability to use gym equipment, but they will also help your body in performing everyday tasks more effortlessly. It can also enhance your balance, flexibility, and mobility.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart while standing straight and put your hands on your hips. Your feet must be at 45 degrees pointing out.
- Squeeze your core muscles and lift your chest gently while standing tall and pulling your shoulders back. Your back must stay flat.
- Try to tuck your navel into your back as you exhale to activate the deep abdominal muscles that support the spine and pelvis.
- Squat as though seated in an invisible chair. As if you were lowering yourself onto a seat behind you, bend your knees while keeping your upper body as straight as you can. Avoid collapsing your chest or rounding your shoulders forward. Your hips won't be able to release correctly if you're too upright, and your knees will be overworked.
- Extend your legs straight to stand back up in the starting position. As you get up, straighten your legs while being mindful not to lock your knees.
- Squats encourage body-wide muscle building by fostering an anabolic (muscle building) environment in the body, not just helping you have great, toned legs.
- This exercise tones your butt, abdominal muscles, lower back, hamstrings, and calves.
- It increases general strength and is an excellent workout movement even when you have low bone density.
- It enhances your ability to generate power from your lower body and your capacity to run and jump.
- Keep your heels "glued" to the ground while you squat, and when you get up to go back to the beginning position, focus on pressing your heels deeper into the ground. For more intense squats, you can go as low as your buttocks below and align with your knees before coming back up. If this causes pain, don’t do it. Both are effective as long as you keep your form and it is comfortable for you.
- To improve your balance when in a squat position, extend your arms in front of you or hold your hand at chest level. Make sure your hips are directly beneath your ribs when you stand back up.
2. Glute Bridge
Your body's centre is where the muscles that support your glute bridge are located. Your hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings are among the stabilisers of the posterior chain that are stretched during a simple bridge. As these muscle groups become stronger, your overall strength and power will increase.
Here’s how to do it:
- Tighten your buttock and abdominal muscles by pressing your low back into the ground.
- Lift your hips to make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Squeeze your belly button back to your spine while engaging your core muscles, breathing through your core. Keep your chin tucked and do not look up. Hold this position for a couple of seconds.
- Lower your hips to return to the starting position. Try not to rest your buttocks on the floor in between reps if you can to keep your core engaged.
- The glute bridge engages your glutes and strengthens your core.
- Having stronger glutes can significantly improve performance in all lifts, sports, and human movements.
- It assists in full hip extension and relieves spinal extension stress.
- It stabilises and balances out the pressure on your knees with squatting movements.
- You can slowly add weights if your objective is to gain strength, but be mindful about it to prevent any injuries. You can feel confident adding weight if you have mastered the body weight variation and good form.
Place a dumbbell or weighted bag on your hips to begin. Hold the weight loosely to prevent it from rolling back onto you or falling off while you raise and lower your hips.
If you want to build, shape, and tone your body as well as improve your general fitness and sports performance, lunges can be part of a strength training exercise. This exercise is good for gaining better lower body strength.
Here’s how to do it:
- Hold a dumbbell on each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing inward. You must be standing on your feet flat with hip-width apart.
- Step out one foot in front and find where you can control your descent smoothly while keeping your back flat, shoulders back, core braced (like someone is about to punch you in the gut), and chest up. Bend your back knee slightly to the floor at the same time.
- Reduce your body weight until your rear knee is 90 degrees bent and your front thigh is parallel to the ground (it should hover a couple of inches above the floor).
- Reversing the movement will bring you back to where you were before pausing for the starting position.
- Repeat, this time stepping forward with your left foot. With each rep, keep switching legs.
- Lunges are an example of a unilateral exercise that improves balance and addresses muscle imbalances on various sides of the body, which includes the calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
- This exercise develops your back and core strength without placing too much pressure on your spine.
- Your lower body's big muscle groups are worked during lunges, which helps you gain lean muscle and lose fat.
- It strengthens your muscles’ flexibility and prevents the shortening and tightening that can occur as a result of prolonged sitting.
- Keep in mind to do lunges with the front knee aligned with the second toe.
- To improve your form, look in the mirror while performing the exercise and slightly tuck your hips. Even though your knee could move a little forward when you lunge, concentrate on bringing your body down rather than moving it forward.
You shouldn't overlook other components of your health, such as cardiovascular fitness, which is necessary for sustaining those uphill hikes and marathons. Though, if you want to boost your lower body strength, these easy leg exercises suggested by Coach David will help you!
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