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Lower Body Progression

This Lower Body Progression Workout shows some examples of how to progress from beginner exercises to moves that are a little more advanced.  You'll know you're ready to move on to the next progression once you've mastered the move and can easily perform 2-3 sets of up to 16 reps with perfect form.  To use this progression as a workout you can either do each exercise listed under the various fitness levels (e.g., all exercises under the Beginner column), doing them either one after the other circuit-style (for up to 16 reps) or one at a time for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.  You can also pick and choose exercises from different columns (e.g., ball squats, assisted lunges, dumbbell deadlifts, etc.).  Use good form and see your doctor if you have any injuries or medical conditions.

Beginner

Intermediate Advanced

Chair Squat


For beginners, the chair or assisted squat is a great place to start when getting used to squats.

Ball Squat

 
The ball can add great back support, but it can also add intensity because it allows you to squat lower. 

Dumbbell/Barbell Squat


Take the ball away and add heavy weights and you now have to use your own strength and muscle to keep good form.

Assisted Lunges

 
Lunges are a tough but excellent exercise because they work multiple muscles.  This version includes a chair for balance.

Static Lunges

 
This more advanced version takes the chair away, forcing you to use your own muscles to stay balanced as you lunge.  

Walking Lunges


Walking lunges force you to use the strength of your legs and core to stop that forward motion and stay in control. 

Ball Deadlifts

 
Deadlifts are often hard to master, but using a ball can make it easier to keep the back flat (or slightly arched), shoulders back and abs in.  

Dumbbell Deadlifts

 
Adding dumbbells (or a barbell) is the next progression, which will really challenge your core.  

One Legged Deadlifts

 
Anytime you do something on one leg instead of two you'll be adding intensity.  You may need to lighten the weights for this exercise.

Leg Lifts


The leg lift is a classic exercise that targets the glutes.  It's shown here on a ball and can also be done on the floor.  

Standing Leg Lifts


The standing leg lift is harder because you use  more muscles to balance your body.  Add intensity by using ankle weights.

Bent Over Ball Leg Lifts


This version is deceptively hard because the ball adds instability.  Keep the hips square throughout the movement.

Inner Thigh Leg Lift

 
Like the side-lying leg lift above, the inner thigh leg lift is a classic exercise targeting the inner thighs.

Inner-Thigh Ball Squeeze


By taking the legs up into the air, you now have to engage your core to stabilize as you squeeze the ball.  

Squat and Squeeze

 
By combining a squat with an inner thigh squeeze, you'll add challenge and intensity.  

One-Leg Press


If you don't have a leg press machine, this is one version you can do at home using a heavy band or tube.  Just hold the handles and press the leg up and out.

Leg Press on Ball


By moving onto the ball you once again add instability to the move, so now you engage a number of muscle groups while you work.   Push through the heels instead of the toes. 

One-Legged Ball Press

 
By switching to one leg, you add intensity and a balance challenge.  This is an advanced move, so be careful and put your hands down for balance, if needed. 

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Lower Body Toning with Lunges and Squats

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