lower body exercises

The 7 Best Lower Body Exercises to Level-Up Your Leg Day

Some people call this exercise a “leg exercise” and some call it lower body strength training. But no matter how you divide it, lower body exercises are crucial for the legs.

You can think of your lower body as the foundation and powerhouse of your body, using lower body exercises to guide all of your movements, no matter how big or small. Through these exercises, you can increase the strength and flexibility of your lower body and lay a solid foundation for building strength. In addition, lower body exercises also help improve your body’s overall posture and form, benefiting cardiovascular health and strengthening muscles.

But before doing lower body exercises, you should also have some knowledge of the muscles in your lower body, from your hips to your calves and everything in between. This allows lower body exercises to cover every muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, quads, and calves. Your lower body exercises can also be combined with your upper body exercises, such as exercises for your core and back muscles because your lower body helps stabilize these muscles. And lower body exercises are very effective in improving your overall health. You can do some exercises such as squats or lunges to shape and strengthen the muscles of the lower body. In addition, in lower body exercises, you can also increase the weight appropriately to increase the intensity of the exercise. If you also want to strengthen muscles or endurance, you can also do some additional challenges.

Leg exercises will be the cornerstone of your entire body-strengthening program. Your legs contain some of the largest muscles in your body, powering any movement you can perform. Yes, lower body exercises may be the toughest part of your physical training journey, but they are also full of challenges and are exercises where you can make the most of your abilities.

As for how you choose the best lower body exercises, it’s not that difficult. You can stimulate multiple leg muscles if you find the exercises that work best for you. The following 7 lower body exercises can bring you the best results. Read the content below and then incorporate one of these exercises into your leg routine to help you achieve better leg appearance, greater strength, and power.

Key Benefits of Lower Body Exercises

Whether you’re adding lower body exercises to your training routine or doing some other lower-body strengthening exercises, you’ll want to further strengthen your lower body muscles. There are many benefits to doing lower body exercises in your daily life.

Strength and muscle development
Lower body exercises, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts, targets major muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Regularly performing these exercises can increase strength, build muscle mass, and improve overall lower body tone.

Improved balance and stability
Lower body exercises engage the core muscles and help improve balance and stability. Strong leg muscles are essential for maintaining proper posture and stability during daily activities and sports.

Increased calorie burn and weight management
Since lower body exercises typically involve large muscle groups, they can help burn a significant number of calories. Incorporating lower body exercises into your workout routine can contribute to weight loss or weight management goals.

Enhanced athletic performance
Strong lower body muscles are crucial for various athletic activities, including running, jumping, and agility movements. Regular lower body exercises can improve speed, power, and endurance, enhancing overall athletic performance.

Joint stability and injury prevention
Strengthening the muscles around the knees, hips, and ankles can provide better joint stability and reduce the risk of injuries. Lower body exercises can also help alleviate knee pain and improve overall joint mobility.

Increased bone density
Weight-bearing lower body exercises, such as squats and lunges, stimulate bone growth and help increase bone density. This is particularly important for preventing conditions like osteoporosis and maintaining healthy bones as you age.

Improved cardiovascular health
Compound lower body exercises that involve multiple muscle groups simultaneously can elevate heart rate and provide cardiovascular benefits. This can improve heart health, increase stamina, and enhance overall cardiovascular fitness.

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How Often Should I Train My Lower Body?

The frequency of training your lower body depends on various factors, including your fitness goals, current fitness level, recovery ability, and overall workout schedule. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often you should train your lower body:

Beginners: If you are new to lower body training, it’s recommended to start with 1-2 lower body workouts per week. This allows your muscles to adapt to the new exercises and minimize the risk of overtraining or injury.

Intermediate: For those with some experience in lower body training, aiming for 2-3 lower body workouts per week is common. This frequency provides enough stimulus for muscle growth and strength development without compromising recovery.

Advanced: Advanced lifters or athletes may benefit from training their lower body 3-4 times per week, depending on their specific goals and training split. Incorporating different types of lower body exercises and varying intensity levels can help prevent plateaus and promote continuous progress.

Recovery: Make sure to allow at least 48 hours of rest between intense lower body exercises to give your muscles time to repair and rebuild. Listen to your body and adjust your training frequency if you experience excessive soreness, fatigue, or decreased performance.

Individualization: It’s important to personalize your training frequency based on how your body responds to workouts. Some individuals may thrive with more frequent lower body training, while others may see better results with less frequent sessions. Experiment with different frequencies and observe how your body reacts to find the optimal training schedule for you.

Balanced Training: While lower body exercises are crucial, it’s essential to maintain a balanced workout routine that includes upper body, core, and cardiovascular training. Incorporating a variety of exercises and focusing on overall body strength and function can help prevent muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injuries.

If you prefer to strength train, the coaches at Relife Sports can provide you with suggestions for a comprehensive strength training program so that you can focus on different muscle groups during each workout.

Warm-Ups For Lower Body Strength Training

Warm-ups are essential before engaging in lower body strength training to prepare your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system for the workout ahead.

Cardiovascular Warm-Up
Begin your warm-up with 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise to increase blood flow and raise your heart rate. Activities like jogging, cycling, or jumping jacks can help prepare your body for the upcoming workout.

Dynamic Stretching
Perform dynamic stretches that target the major muscles of the lower body to improve flexibility and mobility. Examples include leg swings, hip circles, walking lunges, and bodyweight squats. Dynamic stretching helps activate the muscles and enhance the range of motion.

Foam Rolling
Use a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release on tight or sore muscles in the lower body. Focus on areas like the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes to reduce muscle tension and improve tissue quality before training.

Activation Exercises
Incorporate activation exercises to engage and prime specific muscle groups before strength training. Glute bridges, side leg raises, clamshells, and bird dogs are effective exercises to activate the glutes, hips, and core muscles, which are crucial for lower body movements.

Bodyweight Movements
Include bodyweight exercises that mimic the movements you will perform during your strength training session. Air squats, walking lunges, and lateral leg swings can help reinforce proper movement patterns and prepare the muscles for resistance training.

Light Sets
Before starting your working sets with weights, perform a few light sets of the first exercise in your workout. This helps acclimate your body to the movement pattern, gradually increasing the intensity and weight as you progress through the session.

Most Effective Lower Body Strength Training Exercises

1. Dumbbell Squat

Incorporating dumbbell squats into your workout routine can help build lower body strength, improve functional movement patterns, and enhance overall muscle development.

How to Do It:

1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, palms facing inward
2. Engage your core muscles and maintain a straight back throughout the movement.
3. Initiate the squat by bending at your hips and knees simultaneously, as if sitting back into a chair.
4. Lower your body down by pushing your hips back and keeping your chest up.
5. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or just below, ensuring your knees stay aligned with your toes.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles

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2. Dumbbell Goblet Squat

The dumbbell goblet squat is an effective lower body exercises. Incorporating dumbbell goblet squats into your workout routine can help build lower body strength, improve functional movement patterns, and enhance overall muscle development.

How to Do It:


1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward.
2. Hold a dumbbell with both hands vertically at chest level, close to your body, with your elbows pointing down.
3. Engage your core muscles and maintain an upright torso throughout the movement.
4. Initiate the squat by bending at your hips and knees simultaneously, as if sitting back into a chair.
5. Lower your body down by pushing your hips back and keeping your chest up.
6. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or just below, ensuring your knees stay aligned with your toes.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles

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3. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a challenging unilateral lower body exercises. Incorporating Bulgarian split squats into your lower body workout routine can help enhance lower body strength, stability, and muscular development. Start with bodyweight or light dumbbells to master the movement pattern before gradually increasing the resistance as you progress.

How to Do It:

1. Stand facing away from a bench, step, or elevated surface that is about knee height.
2. Place one foot on the bench behind you, ensuring the top of your foot rests on the surface.
3. Position your standing leg forward with your knee directly above your ankle.
4. Engage your core muscles and maintain an upright torso throughout the movement.
5. Lower your body by bending your front knee and hip, descending until your front thigh is parallel to the ground or slightly below.
6. Keep your chest up and shoulders back as you lower yourself down.
7. Ensure your front knee stays aligned with your toes and does not extend past them.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and stabilizing muscles

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4. Lateral Lunge (or Side Lunge)

The lateral lunge is a great lower body exercises. Incorporating lateral lunges into your workout routine can help strengthen your lower body, improve balance, and enhance overall lower body function. Start with bodyweight or light dumbbells to master the movement and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

How to Do It:

1. Keep your back straight, chest up, and core engaged.
2. You can place your hands on your hips or hold dumbbells by your sides for added resistance.
3. Take a large step to the side with your right foot, keeping your left leg straight.
4. Shift your body weight to the right hip, bending your right knee and lowering your body toward the ground.
5. Descend until your right thigh is parallel to the ground or as low as comfortable, ensuring your knee stays aligned with your toes.
6. Keep your chest up and your back straight throughout the movement.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, and glutes

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5. Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is a popular and effective exercise. It’s a great way to strengthen your posterior chain and improve hip stability. Incorporating glute bridges into your workout routine can help build a strong and stable lower body, improve posture, and reduce the risk of injuries. Start with bodyweight bridges and progress to more challenging variations as you get stronger. Remember to focus on proper form and muscle activation to maximize the benefits of this exercise.

How to Do It:


1. Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
2. Keep your arms by your sides with palms facing down.
3. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel toward your spine.
4. Press through your heels and lift your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes.
5. Aim to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the top of the movement.
6. Keep your weight on your heels and upper back while pushing your hips upward.
7. Avoid arching your lower back excessively or shrugging your shoulders.

Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles

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6. Forward Lunge

The forward lunge is a popular lower body exercises that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes while also engaging the core muscles for stability. It’s a great functional movement that can help improve leg strength, balance, and coordination.

How to Do It:

1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips or by your sides.
2. Take a big step forward with one leg, landing on your heel first.
3. Lower your body by bending both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, and your back knee is hovering just above the floor.

Incorporating forward lunges into your workout routine can help build lower body strength, improve balance, and enhance overall functional fitness. Start with bodyweight lunges and gradually progress to more challenging variations as you get stronger.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes

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7. Single-Leg Hinge With Loop

The Single-Leg Hinge with a resistance loop is a fantastic exercise for targeting the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back while also improving balance and stability. The resistance loop adds an extra challenge by engaging the hip abductors and external rotators.

How to Do It:

1. Place a resistance loop around both legs, just above the knees.
2. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core muscles.
3. Shift your weight onto one leg while slightly bending the knee.
4. Extend the other leg straight out behind you, keeping it in line with your torso.
5. Hinge at your hips and slowly lower your torso towards the ground while keeping your back straight.
6. Reach your hands towards the floor or keep them by your sides for balance.

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, and lower back

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