The 4 Best Leg Exercises

05_LegExercises

The 4 Best Leg Exercises

Hips, legs, and booty are the trifecta of trouble areas for so many people. While targeting certain areas specifically will NOT guarantee fat loss from that area (remember that you can’t pick and choose where you lose your weight, just like you can’t pick and choose where you gain it!) working these large muscle groups helps to rev up your metabolism and build some amazing muscle.

Not sure where to start when it comes to exercising your legs and booty? Try some of these awesome moves:

1. The Squat

05_SquatSquats are the ultimate lower body exercise. Start by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms out in front of you for balance if you need. Slowly bend your knees and lower your bottom towards the floor until you’ve reached a 90 degree angle (or lower if you can!). Push through your heels as you stand up straight again, making sure that you create a straight line from your hips through your ankles once you’ve reached your starting point. As you squat down, be careful that your knees don’t protrude out over your toes. Try and imagine that you are leading the exercise with your hips. Instead of thinking about pushing your booty down, focus on pushing your hips out behind you, and the booty will follow.

Squats can be done at body weight, holding dumbbells, or with a barbell for added resistance and challenge. Try looking up variations of the squat once you’ve become proficient at the basic movement. Split Squats (sometimes called King Squats), Hack Squats, Goblet Squats, Front Squats and Plié Squats are some of my favorites.

2. The Lunge

05_LungeLunges are another classic and adaptable move. Start standing with your feet together. Place your hands on your hips, or straight out to either side, to help with balance if you need. Step forward with your right foot. Drop your back knee towards the ground, simultaneously bending your front knee until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. (If you can’t get quite that low yet, don’t be discouraged! Do what you can for now, and watch how you improve with time and practice.) Be sure that your back knee does not touch the ground, and that your front knee stays over your ankle, instead of leaning out and over your front toes. Push yourself upwards by pushing the ball of your left foot into the ground, and bring your left food up to meet your right foot. You should now be standing straight again. Repeat the motion, leading this time with your left foot.

Keep your back straight through this exercise. Focus on keeping your core muscles tight, and try to imagine that someone is tugging a string that is attached to the top of your head. This will help to keep a straight line between your shoulders and hips. Like the squat, the lunge can be adapted in a multitude of ways once you understand the basic movement. If you’re interested in progressing with your lunge, look up Reverse Lunges, Stationary Lunges and experiment with Weighted Lunges.

3. The Donkey Kick

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This simple move really targets your glutes! Place a mat on the floor and begin on your hands and knees and lift your right knee off the floor. Push your heel through the air, extending your leg behind you. Slowly bring your knee back to your starting point, but do not rest it on the ground. Repeat the motion 12 to 15 times for three sets, and repeat on the left side.

4. The Fire Hydrant

05_FireHydrantThe set up is the same as the Donkey Kick. Once you’ve picked your right knee up off the ground, simply lift it out to the side (you know…like a dog…with a fire hydrant. Get the picture?) Pause for a moment, and return to the starting position, again not allowing your knee to rest on the ground. Repeat 12 to 15 times for three sets and repeat on the left side.

Remember that the Internet is your best friend as you try to learn about lifting, resistance training and body weight exercises. Look up how-to videos on YouTube, or online databases like bodybuilding.com for videos, and step-by-step demonstrations. Once you’re confident enough to practice the moves in your gym, feel free to ask an employee for pointers. They’ll be happy to help and you’ll be on your way to killer legs in no time.