#FitnessFriday: Blast Your Legs!

Five Best Butt and Leg Exercises

To continue improving your beach-body physique let’s look at some of the largest muscle groups on the body-the legs and glutes (butt). Exercising your quadriceps, hamstrings and  glutes will not only help you tone up your legs but will also help you burn more calories during your workout. So the next time you are at the gym or have some spare time on your hands, try these five killer leg and butt exercises to get you in tip top shape for the summer sun!

 

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Squats

Yup thats right, the exercise that has swept the nation continues to set the bar for strengthening and toning the legs and glutes. Beginners should first try the body-weight squat to practice the proper exercise form so to lessen the pressure on the knees and encourage full range of motion through the quadriceps and hamstrings.

Standing upright with your feet about shoulder width apart, slowly lower your body as far as you can by pushing back your hips and bending at the knees. Pause at the bottom and slowly push yourself back up to standing position.

After you have perfected the body-weight squat try adding weight in the form of a barbell or a couple of dumbbells. Start with low weight and gradually build up to your weight maximum. Other variations of the squat like the swiss-ball wall squat and jumping squats can also be a great addition to your leg workout!

 

 

Lunges

Whether you are moving through the sagittal plane (front to back) or the frontal plane (side to side) lunges are the go to leg and glute exercise.

Begin in a staggered stance with your left foot in front of your right and arms rested by your sides (hands on your hips if you prefer). Bending at the knees slowly lower your body as far as you can go. Pause at the bottom for a second and quickly push yourself back up to starting position. Continue until you have completed the prescribed number of reps and switch leg positions.

Lunges like squats can be intensified by adding additional weight or elevating the surface you are standing on. Taking a static hold at the bottom for a count of 15 seconds activate the stabilizing muscles of the leg and help build muscle endurance. To open up the hips and encourage hamstring flexibility, try lateral lunges.

 

 

Hip Raises

Sometimes referred to as a bridge, a hip raise engages the hamstrings and glutes.

Lying faceup on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top for five seconds, the lower your body back to start position.

To challenge your glutes and hamstrings, straighten your left leg out so that it is in line with your bent, right thigh and lift using the planted leg. Do as many reps as your legs will allow and switch sides. You can also switch up the surface your feet are on. Try elevating your feet using a bench or swiss ball.

 

 

Girl-Deadlifting

Photo: T Nation

 

Barbell Deadlift

Bent-knee deadlifts are a great total body exercise. They not only engage the leg and glute muscles but  strongly activate the core, back and shoulder muscles too. Beginners should start with a non-stacked or lightweight barbell.

Prepare the dumbbell and roll it against your shins. With feet shoulder width apart bend at the hips and knees to grab the bar. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and your hands about shoulder width apart. Keeping your back straight and chest open, pull your torso back and up, thrusting your hips forward to stand up with the barbell in your hands. Squeeze your glutes for one second at the top and slowly lower the bar to the floor keeping it as close to your body as possible.

Deadlifts can be performed single, bent or straight legged with a barbell or dumbbells. To target different muscles of the legs and glutes, you can simply narrow or widen your stance.

 

 

Dumbbell step-ups

Targeting the muscles of the legs and glutes, step-ups require you to forcefully push your hips forward while stabilizing the knees against resistance.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, rest your arms by your side. Standing in front of a bench or step, place your left foot firmly on the step. Press your left heel into the step and push your body up until your left leg is straight and your standing on one leg on the bench. Keeping your right foot off the bench and elevated, lower your body back down until your right foot then touches the floor beneath. Repeat as many reps as necessary before you switch sides.

Your step should be high enough that your knee forms a 90-degree bend while resting on top of it. To activate various other leg and glute muscles try lateral dumbbell step-ups or use a barbell instead.

 

 

Now, you are ready to show off those legs in that swimsuit!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC