Leg Workouts for Better Strength and Balance
Leg workouts are extremely important for everyone. But quite often, people — especially men — tend to focus much more on the upper body in pursuit of a muscular looking physique. Don’t fall into this trap. Be sure to give leg workouts equal attention, because well developed leg muscles increase your balance, core strength, and also help stimulate the release of important hormones which will allow you to train harder and get better results from all your workouts.
This compound exercise should be given high priority in your leg workouts. Squats can be performed using only your bodyweight for resistance, or as a strength training exercise utilizing weighted resistance. These methods have some differences, but both activate the large muscles of the lower body — the quadriceps group and gluteal group — as well as your core. When using weights it is recommended that you start off light at first until you develop good form, in order to prevent injury and stimulate maximum growth.
Lunges are similar to squats when it comes to targeted muscle areas, but because a greater range of movement is involved, more emphasis is placed on the muscles on the back of the legs – the hamstrings and gluteal group. You perform this exercise by stepping out with one foot while the other remains in place, and bending the knee of the stationary leg downward until the shin is almost parallel to the floor. You then return to an upright position using mostly the strength of the extended leg. The motion is then repeated with the opposite leg. Lunges can be performed while stationary, or while walking forward. The walking version puts the greatest emphasis on the forward leg. When adding lunges to your leg workouts for the first time, perform them without added weight in order to get your form and balance down. As you become proficient, add weighted resistance by holding dumbbells or even a barbell.
3. Calf raises
Your calves play an important role in your day-to-day life and your workouts, just like your quads and glutes. The only exercises that truly target your calves are all pretty similar with slight changes to get your calves to flex differently. The most common is the standing calf raise, which entails standing with only your toes on a platform and the rest of your feet hanging off. You then press down on your toes to raise the heels of your feet, which causes the calf muscles to contract. Dumbbells can be held in the hands, or a barbell can be balanced on your shoulders to add extra resistance.
4. Leg extensions and curls
Both of these leg workouts are designed to isolate specific muscle groups, and require the use of various gym apparatus. Leg curls, targeting the hamstrings and glutes, are performed while laying face down and lifting in an arc (curling) a bar located above your ankles. Extensions, targeting the quadriceps, are performed while seated — a padded bar rests against your shins, which is lifted up until your legs are straight in front of you.