Exercise & Fitness

Building Your Legs

For every great structure there lies a great foundation and when looking at a great physique, the legs are the foundation to a great body. If you look at many of the people at the gym, you will notice that they do not put enough thought to their legs; their focus is more on developing a muscular upper body. Why? Maybe, because leg workout are strenuous or boring, or maybe because legs are do not conjure the same attention as the bulging biceps and muscular chest.

However, strong muscular legs, gives your body symmetry, definition and strength. There is nothing sillier than having a well developed upper body and noticing that that person has chicken legs for a lower body. Listed are the most effective and popular leg workout that can be incorporated into your routine.

For intensive purposes, we’ve divided this leg workout into two sections
section 1 – concentrates on the quads (front of the legs)
section 2 – hamstrings and calves (back of the legs)

Quads

– Squats
– Leg extensions
– Dumbbell Lunges

Squats
The squat is one of the most efficient, popular, and sometimes feared exercise when it comes to legs. If done properly this exercise is great for developing mass, power, and strength in your legs.

Starting Position
*Note: It is highly recommended that a weight belt be used for this exercise in order to reduce the possibility of back injury.

Locate yourself on the center of the bar and rest it on your trapezius (the upper portion of your back) and not your neck. Squeeze your shoulder blades slightly and firmly grip the bar with both hands. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards(The stance can vary as long as your spine remains straight).

The Exercise
Keep your back straight and steady with your eyes and chin up. As you are doing this exercise, you should be looking straight ahead. In a slow and controlled manner, bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Push up with your legs in a controlled manner and repeat. (Avoid bouncing of the weight when pushing back up and use manageable weights.)

Sets
Perform three to four sets of 8-12 repetitions, with the first set squatting the bar to get used to the motion. On each successive set, increase the weight slightly while maintaining proper form. Between each set take a two to three minute break to rest and stretch the thigh muscles.

Tips
– Start off with light weights and increase accordingly
– Lift with the legs and not the back
– Keep your head up, eyes looking straight ahead.

Leg Extension
The leg extension is great for adding definition and shape to the thighs. Furthermore, this exercise is more lenient on the knees and the back, therefore not causing any undue stress.

Starting Position
Sit on the seat and adjust the back support. Be sure that there is space between the seat and the back of the knees (roughly half an inch to one inch). Place your feet under the padded bar and grasp on to the handles located on the side of the machine to keep your hips from moving, and for added stability.

The Exercise Lift the weight by extending the knees to a straightened position. Hold for a count of “one” and squeeze your thigh muscles. Prevent from swinging the weight up with your legs. Lift and lower the weight with a smooth and controlled motion and repeat.

Sets
Try to squeeze out three to four sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. Increase the weight slightly with each succeeding set. Rest and stretch between each set for 2 to 3 minutes.

Tips
– Avoid swinging of the weight
– Use manageable weight
– Focus on proper form
– Keep your back straight and in contact with the back support

Dumbbell Lunges
Lunges are an exercise that works on all the muscles in the leg. Not only does it work the quads, the inner and outer thighs, but it also works the hamstrings and glutes. This exercise can also be done in several ways:
a) stationary position (alternating each leg or one leg at a time)
b) lunge –walk – in any open space of the gym.
This exercise can also be perform by using a straight barbell. Either way is effective in shaping and toning the upper leg as a whole.

Starting Position
Grab a couple of manageable dumbbells and let the weights hang on the side. Place your feet at least hip width apart and pointing forward.

The Exercise
Take a comfortable stride forward bending your front knee and slowly descending to the floor. You can either perform all reps on the right or left leg first or you can alternate back and forth about a quad length in distance (from hip to knee). Be sure that your knee is directly over your ankle and not over your toes of the opposite foot (going past this will produce undue stress on your knee ligaments which can cause injuries). The opposite knee should then be right below the hip and inches from the floor, with your thigh perpendicular to the floor. Use a shoulder width position with your eyes straight ahead. Take a deep breath and step forward and keep your back in a slightly arched position.

Sets
Try to do three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps. This exercise can also be done at the end of the workout as a burnout routine – doing one set to failure.

Tips
– Focus on the muscle, keep your eyes looking straight ahead, and don’t let your knee pass over your toes.
– When coming back to the starting position concentrate on straightening your knee and your hip.
– The exercise can also be performed without the use of weights, by placing your hands on your waist.

Leg Press
There is no exercise that generates as much pain and FEAR in a person than squats. So, for those who don’t like doing squats or for those who just wants to try something new, the Leg Press can serve as an occasional alternative.

Starting Position
Sit on the leg press machine, keeping your back pressed on the seat and position your feet about shoulder width apart. Your toes should be slightly pointed outwards while keeping your shoulders back. Start by holding onto the grab bars on the side of the seat and keeping your abs tight.

The Exercise
Slowly lower the weight up to the point where your hips are just about to curl up, pause, and then slowly push the weight back up to the starting position. During the exercise you should be using the heel of your foot and not your toes. Also be sure not to lock your knees at the top of the exercise as this can cause stress and possible injuries to your knees.

Sets
Three to four sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, adding additional weight on each successive set while maintaining proper form.

Tips
– Keep your back straight and in contact with seat at all times.
– Do not round your shoulders.
– Do not allow your hips to curl up

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