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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best Lower Body Exercises

I have been training for years, and I repeatedly get comments on my lower body. The women especially because they want to know how I got my "booty". I can swear by these exercises that I will talk about right now. I got great results just with simple exercises that anyone can do.

1. Squats: quadriceps, gluteus maximus

You can use a bar across your shoulders, or hold dumbbells. If you are a beginner, I suggest you use no weight to start with. Stand tall with feet hip width apart, belly in, inhale and lower down in a seated position. Make sure you push your glutes back far enough so your knees are in line with your ankles. If you are unsure of your form, look in the mirror with a side view to watch your knees. All the weight should be in your heels and not in your toes. You should be able to wiggle your toes around. Exhale and stand up, avoiding locking your knees. If you do not find this challenging enough, you can stand on the bosu and do the same thing. The bosu is a great way to challenge those little muscles in your legs that you do not use as much. Also great for challenging your core.

2. Lunges: quadriceps, gluteus maximus

If you are a beginner, I suggest you start with stationary lunges. You can start with your right foot in front with a wide stance and your left foot behind up on toes. Either holding on to dumbbells or using body weight, you are going to pull your belly in and inhale, dropping straight down until back knee almost touches the floor and front knee is in line with ankle. Make sure you drop straight down with a straight back and avoid leaning forward always keeping your front knee above your ankle. Keeping your shoulders squeezed back slightly helps with your posture. Exhale and lift up avoiding your knees locking. Repeat the same thing with your left leg forward. If this is not challenging enough, you can perform walking lunges or you can do the stationary lunges with your front foot in the middle of a bosu.

3. Straight legged dead lifts: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae

This is a great exercise but a lot of people perform this one incorrectly. First thing you want to do is hold onto a bar in front of your body, with your feet hip width apart. Knees are straight but not locked. Keeping your back straight and shoulders back, you are going to hinge forward at the hips with the bar dropping in front of your legs. This exercise feels more like a stretch in the back of your legs if you are performing it properly. Make sure you are watching with a side profile in the mirror to make sure your shoulders are not rolling forward and your knees are not bending too much or you will be performing a squat instead and working completely different muscle groups. Exhale and stand all the way up.

4. Cable kickbacks: gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, hamstrings

So this next exercise is great because it hits every part of your "booty" and can be performed a few different ways. If you are a beginner, you can actually do this one on the floor with your hands under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips with your back straight. Exhale and with a bent knee, kick your foot up towards the ceiling. A more challenging form of this exercise would be standing and using a cable machine. So working one leg at a time, attach an ankle strap around one ankle and most cable machines have a bar where you can hold onto. Feet together, (I like to stick my bum out a bit) kick your foot back as far as you can go comfortably squeezing your glutes. Another way to do this exercise is holding a bench with your hands, and one knee on the bench keeping your back straight. The working leg kicks all the way up in line with your back. You will get the most range of motion with this 3rd option but it is the hardest.

So for every exercise, you will want to do anywhere from 12-20 reps and 2-3 sets. When you get more experienced and stronger, I suggest using higher weight and lower reps 8-12, 3-4 sets. Myself, I use the heaviest weight possible. Your lower half has the biggest muscle groups and that will burn more calories, and more calories you burn, more fat you will burn as well. Keep in mind, the more muscle you have, the less fat you will have on your body. Eat well and train hard, and you will see the results you dream of

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