Most people improve their upper body – the chest, shoulders, back, arms, and abs – when they do their workout. As a result, the legs are left behind, which brings a disproportionate physique to a person. This imbalance in the size of the upper and lower body may lead to reduction of the body’s aesthetics, and more importantly, safety may be compromised because of possible injury.
But how can one improve and strengthen his legs? The following are the exercises that lead the legs at par with the torso and the upper extremities.
Squats stand as a powerful exercise to train the legs, according to Web MD. As per the publication, the exercise is the most usually done when it comes to building the quadriceps, along the major muscles of the thigh. The exercise is done by holding a barbell on the shoulders behind the neck and lowering the torso some inches by bending the knees. The publication added that squats should be carefully done to prevent knee injury. Also, one should not go down all the way, as it puts too much strain on the knees.
Another variation of squats is the one with the use of a squat machine, which fitness experts view as a safer way to do the routine. It just requires a person to sit or lie with his feet against a platform connected to a set of weights. As the person pushes against the platform, he lifts the weight. In doing the routine, it is important not to extend the legs so far that the knees lock, as it could lead to injury. The exercise is repeated for eight to 12 times, until the legs feel fatigued. The weight is increased when the person is able to perform more than 12 repetitions.
A person can also do squats without weights. This can be done by standing with the back against the wall. Then, the person lowers himself a few inches by bending his legs and standing up again. It should be kept in mind that going all the way down into a crouch may put pressure to the knees.
A thigh machine is used to resist the attached weight, thus increasing the person’s leg power. The person sits with his knees bent and feet locked behind a bar connected to a stack of weights. Then, the person pulls forward using his calves, which then recruit the other muscles of the thigh. Another variation of the thigh machine is the one that targets the hamstring muscles, which are located at the posterior part of the thighs. The person lies down on the bench and hooks his heels under the bar. Then, he bends his legs and pulls the bar in an upward motion. This variation is designed to work out the back of the legs.
The calves add aesthetics to the legs; hence, it should also be included in the leg training. An isolation and strength training for the calves is the dumbbell seated one-leg calf raise. According to Body Building, the person places a block on the floor, which is about one feet from a flat bench. Then, he sits on a flat bench and places a dumbbell on his upper left thigh about three inches above the knee. After that, the person places the ball of his left foot on the block as the starting position. The toes are raised up as high as possible as the person exhales and he contracts his calf muscle, holding it for a second. Then, the person gradually returns to the starting position, stretching as far down as possible. The exercise is repeated for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Aside from the aforementioned leg exercises, there should be balance among the exercises of both the upper and lower extremities. For maximum muscle gains, one should integrate consistent training, proper diet, and adequate rest.