Articles

Mon 3 Aug, 2015

Simple Moves to Strengthen Your Legs


Closeup image of a fitness equipment in gym

You’ve heard it time and time again, but it still rings true:

Don’t. Skip. Leg. Day.

Strong legs are your foundation; upon you can build pretty much any component of fitness you like.

Nearly every human movement pattern requires the use of your lower body in some shape or form. You use your legs to run, lift, climb, crawl, jump… The list goes on, so it’s probably a good idea to make sure they can stand up to the test.

Below is a specifically designed workout made up of the biggest bang for your buck exercises with regards to building leg strength.

The Lower Body Strength Builder

The workout is made up of four simple movements, and should take between half hour to forty five minutes to complete. Perform 2-3 sets of 6-12 reps for each exercise, and repeat the workout 2-3 times a week for the best results.

1. Barbell Deadlift

When done right, the deadlift is one of the best leg strength builders. When done wrong it can cause some serious injuries, so make sure you’re executing the proper form.

Start with the bar in front of you and your feet hips distance apart (facing forwards). Then you’re going to grab the bar at around shoulders distance with your palms facing back. Bend your knees so that your shins are lightly touching the bar, making sure that your chest is lifted and your back is straight.

When you’re ready, stand up, pulling the bar close to your shins, and making sure to keep your back straight and core engaged. To finish, lower the bar slowly back to the floor, bending at the hips first.

2. Cossack Squats

Cossack squats are a tricky exercise that will test your strength, flexibility and balance.

Take a stance that’s slightly wider than shoulder width, turning one foot to the side, and lift the toes of that foot so your weight is primarily on the heel. Whilst keeping that leg straight, squat down by bending your other leg, lowering as deep as feels comfortable.

Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the movement, and as you return to the start position, contract your glutes. Repeat on both legs.

To make the exercise more challenging, you can add weight via a kettlebell or weighted vest.

3. Skater Lunge

The skater lunge is great for building explosive power, as well as agility and coordination.

With your knees slightly bent, start by performing a reverse lunge, only with your back leg crossed behind your front leg. You’ll then leap to the opposite side, bringing your front leg behind you and only tapping your toe to the ground lightly.

Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction, ensuring that your core is engaged and your knees and ankles are aligned throughout. For an extra challenge you can hold onto a kettlebell, but ensure you keep good form.

4. Glute Bridges

Glute bridges are a great way build strength in the glutes and hamstrings.

Begin by lying down, with your knees bent and your feet about 15cm away from your bottom.

Push your weight into your heels, keep your lower back flat and engage your glutes to raise your hips towards the ceiling. Make sure that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, before lowering slowly.

For an extra challenge, perform the same exercise but with one leg extended out, making sure that your hips stay square.