Skipping out on lower body training is one of the biggest mistakes you can make:
- Low muscle mass in the legs is associated with having more dangerous belly fat.
- Weak legs make you more vulnerable to develop knee and low back pain.
- A weak lower body drastically reduces athletic potential.
Here are ten tips to make sure you never neglect your lower body again!
#1: Lift Heavy
If you’re like most people, you want to lose body fat and improve muscle mass. Lower body exercises are perfect because they use the largest muscles in the body, thereby burning the greatest number of calories. The catch is you need to lift heavy weights that you’re not accustomed to. Choose weights between 65 and 85 percent of the max amount you can lift. If you can squat 100 pounds one time, then you need to use a weight that is at least 65 pounds when doing squats for reps.
#2: Squat All The Way Down
It’s not enough just to squat. You need to make sue you’re doing deep squats in which you go below parallel to where the hamstring covers the calf. Deep squats are a fundamental movement in human life and they improve flexibility in the lower body. They also maximize muscle development of the upper leg for greater definition.
#3: Do Deadlifts
Deadlifts hit the entire posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back) as well as the quads, and abs. There are many great deadlift variations: Start with hex bar deadlift and single leg deadlifts. Once you’ve got those down, add Romanian deadlifts and conventional clean-style deadlifts. Advanced trainees should include deficit deadlifts in order to increase the range of motion. You can also widen the hand placement to a snatch grip to increase the difficulty.
#4: Don’t Forget The Lunges
Lunges are an excellent exercise to improve balance between the muscles in the body and avoid injury. The key is to train the right type to match your training status and goals. Start with static lunges (also called split squats) with the front-foot elevated on a low box. Progress to moving lunges and then rear-foot elevated lunges (also called Bulgarian lunges). When elevating the rear foot, use a low box that is only about 4 inches off the ground to avoid hyperextending the lower back. Lastly, progress to jumping lunges for increased speed and power.
#5: Train Step-ups
Single-leg training develops equal strength on both sides of the body. Step-ups are a great example that have excellent carryover into daily life activities. When doing step-ups remember to have the top leg do all the work. Try lifting the toes of the bottom leg so that you keep the weight on the working leg and avoid pushing off. Progress from body weight to holding dumbbells and then a barbell across the back.
#6: Do Hamstring Curls
A must for strong, sculpted hamstrings, do lying leg curls with feet in neutral and then pointed inward and outward. By altering foot position you create different lines of pull on the muscles for greater development and shape.
#7: Do Good Mornings
A powerhouse lift for the posterior chain, good mornings hit the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back making them great for both the legs and the core. The key to safely performing this exercise is to pivot from the hip and keep the knees slightly bent. Do not round your lower back to increase risk of motion. Start with very light weights and progress slowly.
#8: Train Calves W/ Seated & Standing Raises
For great calves. have to train both the gastrocnemius, which is mostly fast-twitch and best activated when standing, and the soleus, which is composed of more slow-twitch fibers and is targeted when the knee is bent and. The simple way to do this is to perform both standing and seated calf raises, using an extended lowering phase.
#9: Use Eccentric Training
Eccentric training occurs when you put more stress on the down motion of the exercise, either by increasing the load or the time spent on that phase of the lift. For example, you could lower yourself into a squat taking 6 seconds and come up in 1 second. Eccentric training is great for building muscle and burning calories because it induces a lot of metabolic stress.
#10: Trade Distance Running For Sprints
Endurance running trains efficiency, which is the opposite of what needs to happen if you want to lose body fat. Sprint training, on the other hand, will help you build muscle and it preferentially increases the size and strength of the powerful, fast-twitch fibers. Try a descending distance protocol in which you do 4 sprints per set of 400, 300, 200, and 100 meters. Start with one set and work up to three.