Legs are the power house of your body
Your legs are the power house of the body. The biggest muscles are located there, the heart has to work even harder to pump oxygenated blood to those muscles when you are working them and yet they are often so neglected by both men and women in their training plans.
Neglect your legs at your peril. From every aspect of training, the legs are one of the areas that produce the most benefits. If you want to boost that post workout feeling, that incredible endorphin rush that accompanies your training, you need to add in leg exercises to your routine.
Men often leave their legs out and focus on the upper body such as the chest, arms and back, leading to a toned upper body and less toned legs and calves. Women sometimes are just afraid of these exercises, thinking that they will make your legs bigger or chunkier.
Regardless of your sex, what you are training for, or even your age, legs are one of the most important aspects of any training plan. The legs are made up of four main muscle groups:
- The quadriceps at the front of your leg
- The hamstrings at the back of your leg
- The glutes, which is your bum
- The calf muscles
There are many more muscles but these are your main muscles you need to know. I am going to give you my five favourite leg exercises to add into your routine. These will add shape and firmness to your leg, giving you strength and tone like never before. But be warned, if you haven’t tried some of these exercises before, then you need to add them in slowly. Do one set of twenty for the first week, two sets of twenty in the second week and three sets of twenty in the third week. This will ensure that you aren’t too sore, as this can often put people off.
Squats: One of my favourites, these work pretty much every part of the lower body. Start with your feet together and your back straight. Step forward with the right leg and bend the left knee towards the floor. Be careful not to let the right knee bend over the right foot, you should always be able to see your toes. Do 20 and then change leg.
Lunges: One of the classic leg exercises, the squat works pretty much every muscle group in the lower body. Start with your feet shoulder width apart, your back straight and your hands crossed at eye level in front of you. This helps to keep your back straight. From there simply bend your knees as far down as you feel comfortable. Different people will have different ranges of movement, some will be able to get their bum to the floor and some will have far less range of motion. Return to the starting position.
Wide foot squats: Start by lying on your side, with all your joints in one line – your shoulders, your hips, your knees and your ankles. While keeping your top leg straight, move your top leg forward so that the hip joint is engaged. This engages the bum and forces it to work. Keeping the leg where it is, raise the leg up and down as much as your flexibility will allow. Do 20 reps on your right side and then switch onto your left side.
Side leg raises: This exercises works the inside of the legs, that part that can be so hard to tone up, but these will tone those muscles really quickly. Start with your feet wide apart and pointing away from the body. Lower the bum towards the floor, keeping the back straight and hold. Now pulse the bum about three inches towards the floor and back to the holding position. Repeat for 20, take a 30 second break and then go for your next two sets if you can.
Step ups: These will work your aerobic system as well as your bum, quads and hamstrings. But I would only recommend them for the very fit. If you are a beginner then steer clear of these. They are one of the complete lower body exercises that work nearly all of the muscles. They will help to lift and tone the bum, which is always good. Start with a step, bench or chair. Minimum height is 10 inches but you can also go higher. As you get fitter you can increase the height of the bench too. Keep your posture straight and tall. Hands on your hips. Step up with your right leg, then bring up the left leg, then down with the right leg and down with the left leg. This counts as 1, continue leading with the right leg for 20 and then lead with your left leg for 20.
These are my favourite exercises for the legs. I have seen the results that my clients get with them and now you can use them to get the best results for you too.