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The Best Lower Body Exercises

November 9, 2010

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              Lower body exercise is necessary to balance and stabilize the body. Our legs and the muscles of the lower body support the upper body and initiate body movement. Without proper strength in the lower body, the body would be immobile, unable to support the rest of itself. Therefore it is essential to include a lower body workout within your weekly exercise.



Here is a list of the best lower body exercises that can be accomplished at home or in the gym. Although it is not necessary, there are specific gym machines that target the same muscle groups as dynamic lower body exercises. Gym equipment allows for more weight to be lifted to build bigger muscles. However, regular dynamic lower body exercises can accomplish losing weight, strengthening, firming, toning and stabilizing the lower body.  Some of the gym equipment that can be used for the lower body include the leg curl, leg extension, leg press, hack squat, calf raise, and the multi-hip machine. Other equipment that can be used both at the gym and at home are dumbbells, hand weights, barbells, physio balls and steps. Here are the best lower body exercises that can be done within your home and without any exercise equipment.

 




woman doing lunges, lower body exercises

Lunges-
There are many different forms of lunges

such as static, dynamic, forward, lateral, low, etc. Lunges

work all the major muscles in the lower body making it a

perfect toning exercise. Start off with feet shoulder with apart.

Step forward with one leg and lower both knees at a 90-degree

angle. The back knee should come to a couple of inches off the

ground. Make sure the front knee stays straight over the front

foot. Push up to starting position and switch legs. Remember to

do the same amount of repetitions on each leg between 10-15.

To make this easier allow the back knee to go all the way to the

ground. To make this exercise more difficult hold for 5-10 seconds

while in the bent position. As you increase your strength swap

legs by jumping and switching the position of each

leg.




Squats-
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Slowly lower your body and bend your knees. Keep your weight back on your heels with your hips only slightly bent and your back upright. Your knees should not go over your toes. Try to bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and no more. Then straighten up to original position.  To make this exercise easier put your arms straight out as you bend down, this will balance out the weight. To make this exercise more difficult pause when your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Hand weights can also be added to make this exercise more complex.



woman in a fitness class doing step ups, lower body exercises 
Step-ups

Using a step, staircase or riser stand in front of it. Place your right     foot in the middle of the step and step up, balancing your body on your right  foot. The other foot should be behind the body to stabilize any imbalance. Step  down on the left leg. Then repeat with other leg. Do 12-15 repetitions on each  leg. To make this exercise easier when you step up place the other leg on the step as well before coming back down to the ground. You can also start off with a  very low step 1/2 a foot and build up. To make this exercise more difficult you   can add hand weights or hop onto the step.
 



Plies

Much like the movement of a squat, plies works the inner and outer thighs, glutes, hamstrings and quads. Standing with you’re your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Turn your toes out away from the body. Squat down. Do not allow your knees to go over your toes or bend your knees more than 90 degrees. Come back up to a standing position. Repeat 12-15 times. To make this exercise harder add hand weights.




Calf Raises-

While standing up, with your legs shoulder width apart, raise up on the balls of your feet, lifting your heels up off the ground. Bring your heels back down to starting position. To make this exercise easier use a chair or wall to hold on to for balance. To make this exercise more difficult stand on the edge of a step while rising on the balls of your feet.


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