Lower body is the most ignored part of the body while working out. Why? Because it’s hard work, that’s why. One can burn a massive amount of calories by working out these large muscle groups. Runners, especially, forgo working on their legs as they get tired from running. You will see many people having bulging upper bodies but possessing chicken legs. Look’s funny, right?
Lack of lower body workout in the training regime leads to poor running form, muscle imbalance and increased chances of injuries. Injuries like runner’s knee, IT Band pain, stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, calf strain, hamstring strain, hip pain etc are results of lower body strength imbalance.
Lower body comprises of the following major muscle groups:-
– Hamstring – Back of thighs.
– Quadriceps – Front of thighs.
– Glutes – Hips.
Many people say that I run or play some sport, so I need not exercise lower body. But the truth is that, even then you should exercise those hamstrings and quads to prevent injury and improve performance. So, let me highlight 4 best lower body exercises you are not doing. These are the most basic exercises which any one should do to tone up and injury proof the lower half of the body.
According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, squats may help runners in uphill running and with correct running form, thus minimizing injuries. Do them with or without weights. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 squats. Important things to REMEMBER while performing squats, which most of us ignore is that –
a. Keep the back straight at all times.
b. Look straight.
c. Knees should not go ahead of toes at any point during the whole movement.
Try the following variations in squats –
a. With dumbells.
b. With barbell and weight plates.
c. With kettle bells.
d. With resistance bands.
e. Body weight squats.
2. Glute Bridge
It is one the best exercises for lower body and core, mainly lower back, glutes and hamstrings. It is the best exercise to beat hip pain. There are also a number of variations which includes dynamic movements to make this exercise harder.
Hold the pose as long as possible and gradually increase time. REMEMBER to keep the spine straight and knees together for maximum benefit.
I have got a love – hate relationship with this exercise. I hate doing this because it’s tough but it is also one of the best one to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes and ankles. It also helps activates core due to the single leg movement.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. Important things to REMEMBER while doing this exercise –
a. Knees should not cross toes at any point of time.
b. Look straight.
c. Keep the back straight.
d. In the lunge movement, just lightly touch the knee to the floor and keep the whole movement deliberate.
4. Calf Raise
I love this exercise, especially after I suffered from calf muscle strain and plantar fasciitis. This exercise will make solid, rock hard calves and ankles. I do it every time I am standing and be it anywhere. It has now become a habit and a good one too.
It is a simple movement. Hold the pose on tip toe for a couple of seconds and lower down. Gradually increase the number throughout the day.
1. During warm up.
2. After run.
3. On cross training days.
4. Aim to do these moves atleast 2-3 times a week.
5. Gradually increase difficulty by adding dynamic movements.
1. Image - Google.
2. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. HJ2YMWPX9SUZ