Exercising your legs often is overlooked by even the most avid weight lifters and exercisers. Many people simply cannot and should not perform some of the more basic leg exercises like squats and lunges due to knee and lower back injuries. But that does not mean you have to neglect the pillars of our bodies' foundation. Doing leg workouts not only make your legs stronger and able to support your body better, but you will burn more calories in your workouts by incorporating a leg routine.
By exercising the thighs, hamstrings, calves, lower back and glutes (rump), you can kick-start your metabolism and burn more calories with the following quick, challenging leg workouts. You will find that leg workouts also have a cardiovascular element to them. Once again, this is because these muscles require so much more blood, so the heart will beat more to supply new blood to the lower body.
Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Drop your butt back as though sitting in a chair. Concentrate on squeezing your glutes in your upward motion. Keep your heels solid on the ground. Grab some dumbbells to make it more challenging and only do a half-squat to place less strain on your knees. An alternate exercise for squats is the leg extension machine.
The lunge is a great leg exercise to develop shape and flexibility. Keep your chest up straight and your stomach tight. Take a long step forward and drop your back knee toward the ground, but keep the front shin vertical -- do not overextend. Want to make it more of a challenge? Grab some dumbbells. Make it easier on your knees by only going down halfway. An alternate exercise for lunges is the leg curl machine.
Single Leg Calf Raise
Hook one foot behind the other and raise up on your toes. Make certain you use a full range of motion. It won't take long to make this burn.
Warmup With Jumping Jacks and Squats:
- Jumping Jacks -- 10/Squats -- 10 (repeat 5-10 times)
Repeat the following three times:
- Squats -- 20 reps
- Lunges -- 10/leg reps (regular, 1/2)
- Calves -- 30 (regular, toes in, toes out)
- Bike or jog -- 5:00
Mix Jogging or Biking With Leg Exercises:
- Jog a quarter-mile or bike 2-3 minutes/stretch
Repeat the following four times:
- Jog a quarter-mile on a treadmill or outside (or bike 2-3 minutes)
- Squats -- 10-20 reps
- Lunges -- 10-15 reps each leg
- Calves -- 30 reps each leg
You will find leg workouts to be challenging, and you may be quite sore the following day. Do not neglect your post-exercise stretch routine, and you will be much less sore. Do legs 2-3 times a week maximum and give yourself 2-3 days before another leg workout.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to email@example.com.
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