Until now, most of the articles I’ve written have discussed why to work out, or getting started. But the road to a healthy, eye-catching physique is about performing the basics consistently and then witnessing results. This column outlines actual exercises you can use for your lower body.
From my own experience and empirical evidence, strength training is a tool that allows you to gradually customize the shape of your body to create a more toned version of yourself, while helping you burn more calories all day. But be aware that fitness consists of three components: diet, exercise and rest. While exercise works, a poor diet will blur the shapely lines you create through resistance training.
One of the biggest struggles for me was not having the butt (glutes) I desired. I addressed this by finding exercises that specifically targeted that area. I stuck to and still stick to my workout consistently, and as I continue to build muscle and drop fat, I notice a better shape to my glutes on a weekly basis.
Below are several of the most effective exercises for the lower body. For the more difficult exercises I’ve provided instruction.
Most folks are intimidated by squats. I surely was, but they’re crucial to sculpting legs. They primarily train thighs (quadriceps), hips, glutes (butt), and hamstrings. If you’re looking to tone and lift your buttocks, squats do that.
1. Stand with your head facing forward and chest held up.
2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. If you want to use just your body weight, then hold your arms in front of you for balance. If you use a weighted bar across your back, start light and add weight gradually over time.
3. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into a chair and keep your toes pointed straight ahead or slightly outwards.
4. Lower down so that your thighs are parallel to the floor with your knees slightly over your ankles.
5. Keep your body tight and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position. Maintain correct form!
The first time I did lunges, I fell over in front of my now husband! I was extremely embarrassed, but I got up and tried again! Lunges mainly work your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Many consider them the butt exercise.
1. Keep your upper body straight and look straight ahead, keeping your stomach tight.
2. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure the other knee doesn’t touch the floor.
3. Keep the weight on your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
Target your quads, hamstrings and glutes
Hip raises are a new favorite of mine. My glutes are rounder and higher since using them. Hip raises target your glutes and hamstrings.
1. Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. (For an extra challenge, place a weight on your hips.)
2. Squeeze your glutes tightly and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
3. Pause for five seconds in the up position (continuing to squeeze glutes), then lower your body back to your starting position.
Target your hamstrings
Stiff-legged dead lifts
Stiff-legged deads is an exercise that targets your glutes, hamstrings and back. I love this exercise because it doesn’t cause any strain on your knees.
1. Place one dumbbell in each hand.
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and chest up and out and a slight bend in your knees (arching back slightly).
3. Head facing forward, slowly bend at the hips, lowering the dumbbell straight down close to your body. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings and go down as far as you feel comfortable.
4. Raise back up as you went down (eyes facing up and shoulders back).
5. Squeeze up through your glutes and hamstrings until you’re standing straight up.
Standing or seated calf raise
Targets the calf muscles
These exercises should be done once or twice a week. Start with 2-3 sets of each exercise and 10 to 12 repetitions. When 12 reps become easy, slightly raise the weight.
You now have the necessary leg and glute exercises to begin! Remember, you may not see immediate results after every workout, but if you stay consistent, eat healthy, and never give up, real change will come!
I will post videos of how to do these exercises on my Facebook page, so stop by and let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions. Remember, fitness is a journey, not a marathon. Have fun!
Latrice Marie welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit her at www.Facebook.com/Latrice -Marie.