Your lower body serves as the base for your body, including your spine, upper body, and head. This provides balance, support, and stability. The phrase “don’t skip leg day” isn’t popular for no good reason. The purpose of working out is to improve your health. You’re far from reaping the full personal training rewards if you’re skipping the most important parts.
Powering through a dreadful mindset before a leg exercise is well worth it. This will help prevent injuries and give you the physical health results you’re shooting for. Here are some of the top exercises which I believe are best for leg power:
When you jump, you’re utilizing various leg muscles such as the calve and hip muscles, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. A dumbbell squat is the first half of a jump where you’re hitting the same muscles as in a jump. Dumbbell squats are one of the most common leg workouts because they focus on an array of lower body muscles. This includes knee and ankle stabilization.
There are many different techniques of a dumbbell squat. I recommend holding one end of the dumbbell at your chest with both hands, and squatting down to a 90 degree angle. Make sure you’re pointing your feet slightly outward. While keeping your back straight, complete the squat by exploding up from the balls of your feet. Finish by thrusting your hips forward. Squats improve balance and mobility, while strengthening your legs simultaneously.
Speed Split Squats
A split squad is a form of a regular squat. These are a great lower body exercise but very difficult. Split squats exercise your hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. The form isn’t easy to nail down. However, with proper form, split squats will increase your leg strength and enhance your flexibility.
With a split squat, extend your right leg forward, for example, and left leg back with your knees slightly bent. In that position, bend both legs down to the same level as a regular squat. Then, jump forcefully off your left leg toes. Kick your left leg to the front and your right leg to the back. Complete the split squat by landing in a forward, split position. Dip right back into the motion of the exercise, hence the name of the exercise, “speed split squats.”
Like I said, this is an extremely hard and tiresome exercise, so only use weight if you’re sure you can. And even then, don’t go too heavy. At Hokali, we work out to prevent injuries, not cause them. Subscribe now and book your first personal training session in San Francisco today!
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Bulgarian squats are another strenuous leg exercise which hit the quads, hamstrings, and glutes as a single-leg exercise. Typically, you can implement dumbbells into this exercise but as with split squats, don’t push your limit.
With Bulgarian squats, you need a bench to place your foot back onto. With your left leg extended back onto the bench, lean your body forward. For the purpose of the exercise, squat down with your left leg. Your right leg which you are not working will naturally lower itself as well when you squat and that’s okay. With weights, you can either put one against your chest, as I mentioned with the regular squats. Or, hold two dumbbells facing downward, also known as a farmer’s carry.
Single Leg Squat To Bench
Single leg squats, of course, have a higher focus on the single leg being exercised than regular squats.
Like bulgarian squats, you’re also going to need a bench for this beneficial workout. Find a level in front the side of the bench where your bum lands on the bench while squatting. This is usually around five inches away. Standing in front the side of the bench, extend your left leg out (does not have to be fully extended). Then, squat down with your right leg. Complete the rep by exploding up from your thigh muscles and the ball of your right foot. The most important part of this exercise is to maintain your balance. So, I recommend starting without weights and incorporating them in if you reach a point where it’s becoming too easy.
I’m sure you have all seen a leg press machine. Leg presses primarily work your quadriceps and are a magnificent exercise for building leg strength.
Most gyms own a leg press which you can use if you’re a member. When leg pressing, make sure both sides have equal weighted plates on them which is suitable for you. Then, sit down on the seat and place your feet on the plate. Lift the latch on both sides, go down as deep as possible and press up. Similar to many exercises, the deeper you go, the more strength you build. Finish by pushing the plate with your legs down to a level comfortable for you to hop back into.
Featured Lower Body Exercise For Explosiveness: Dumbbell Snatches
Dumbbell snatches are a challenging full-body exercise but great for explosiveness. In regards to your lower body, these activate your glutes and hamstrings when you extend your hips. Snatches also target your quadriceps when you extend your knees to help raise your body upwards. Refer to this link to learn how to properly do a dumbbell snatch.
Like Dumbbell snatches, lateral step-ups help tone and sculpt your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
This quality exercise typically involves dumbbells and a box to step-up onto that reaches just below your knees. You can hold a dumbbell to your chest or the farmer’s carry style. To do this properly, you simply step-up with your right leg, for example, onto the box. Follow by driving the knee of your left leg upwards, stepping down with the left leg and then the right.
Remember, it’s important to keep your back straight when doing a lateral step-up as it is in all exercises.
Lateral Side Lunge
Lateral side lunges are critical because they target the inside groin muscles which aren’t as active in most leg exercises. Plus, they hit the quadriceps as well.
For side lunges, stand your feet hip-width apart. Then, step out to the side with one foot while keeping the other foot flat. Next, bend your “stepping” knee while keeping the other knee straight. Lastly, forcefully push off from your foot to return to the starting position.
Front To Back Lunges
Front to back lunges are as they sound: a combined front and back lunge. These target your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calve muscles.
You hold a dumbbell to your chest, or two if your holding them the farmers carry style. To begin, lunge your left knee back to the ground as your right leg will naturally bend. Second, use your right leg thigh muscles and the toes of your left leg to push into a front lunge. Complete the rep by bending the right until it touches the floor. For best results, make sure you are not selling yourself short when going back and forward with your leg.
Featured Lower Body Exercise For Leg Health: Single Leg RDL’s
Don’t forget About single leg RDL’s. They are immensely important because they engage posterior muscles such as your hamstrings, glutes, and your lower leg. They also build hip stability and strength, improve balance, and correct strength imbalances.
Single leg RDL’s typically involve a kettlebell and your form is more important than the weight. To begin, shift all your weight to your right foot, for example, push your butt back to bend forward at the waist. As your left hand slides down with the kettlebell, raise your left leg behind you up in the air.
Incorporate a few of these leg exercises into every workout, and your lower body will be on point!
Stretching is crucial before lower body exercises. Give this blog post a read for the different types of stretching!