We all want great legs, right?
You might already be a marathon runner or perhaps a recreational jogger. Maybe power walking or cycling is your go-to exercise of choice. Regardless of fitness level and style of workout, these 5 exercises will complement your current training and potentially elevate it to the next level whilst adding some muscle definition to your legs and gluts. Whilst seemingly focusing only on the lower body, if performed correctly, they will all challenge your core too.
A compound, ie multi-joint exercise, this one gives you the most bang for your strength-building buck. Focus on keeping your heels welded to the floor, sitting your weight back but keeping your chest lifted.
Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core.
2. ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
A hip dominant movement, this exercise targets the whole posterior chain, ie from your neck to your calves. Do not be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the exercise; it takes time and great body awareness to really nail this one. Once you do, let the heavy lifting, glut shaping begin! Think of a neutral spine when upright & aim to maintain this as you lower down and up.
Muscles worked: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back, core.
Great for targeting the major muscles of the legs and hips, this exercise can be modified or progressed in a myriad ways* and directions. Focus initially on sitting into the front hip & keeping the back heel off the floor & back knee bent. Lower down and up.
Muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, core.
4. HIP THRUSTER
A variation on a bridge, this glute dominant exercise requires maximum extension to properly target the key muscles so ensure you lift fully. Create quicker gains by lowering slowly, ie in the eccentric phase.
Muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, calves.
5. SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT
Kids hop around on one leg all the time. As we age we do it less and less until we suddenly find our balance is terrible and with that can come a loss of physical confidence. Walking and running require us to (momentarily) move from one leg to the other and balance and single leg movements are also intrinsic to all ball sports. This is a dynamic balance, ie a moving one and so it is harder. Start with a small, slow movement and build from there.
Muscles worked: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back.
Master the perfect technique with these brilliant exercises and then you can continue to develop strength and definition with endless variations. The best way to achieve this is to perform each exercise without additional load, ie using your bodyweight only. Think about where you should be feeling the work and adjust your position accordingly. Work on the technique and range of movement before adding more load.
*Stay tuned for an in-depth look at each of these and how to adapt and modify each one to your ability, equipment and goals.
What is your favourite leg exercise? Post your comments & please share if you like this article. Thank you!
Photo credits: Bigstock running