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Lower Body Strength

This intermediate/advanced workout includes exercises targeting the hips, glutes and thighs.  The exercises take you from heavy weights, with a focus on strength, to unilateral moves that focus on stability and balance for a well-rounded lower body routine.  The exercises are performed in a series that you can repeat 1-3 times, depending on your fitness level, time constraints and goals.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed
A barbell, various weighted dumbbells, an exercise ball and a step or platform.

How To

  • Warm up with a few minutes of light cardio
  • Complete the three exercises listed in each series, one after the other, resting when you need to
  • Repeat each series once for a lighter workout, or 2-3 times for a more intense workout
  • To modify, use lighter weights, do fewer reps or do only two of the exercises in each series

Warm up: Dumbbell Squat

Warm up:  Hold medium weights above the shoulders and lower into a squat, knees behind the toes. Complete 24 reps.
1. Barbell Squat  
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Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a heavy barbell on the shoulders.  Lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes and abs engaged.  Complete 8 slow, controlled reps followed by 8 reps pulsing halfway up.

2.  Plie Squat
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Stand with feet wide, toes out at an angle and hold heavy weights on the upper thighs.  Keeping knees in line with your toes, lower into a squat, focusing on the inner thighs.  Complete 8 slow, controlled reps followed by 8 reps pulsing halfway up.

3.  One-Legged Squat
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With a ball supporting the back, lean against it and lift one foot off the floor (or keep the toe resting lightly on the floor) and lower into a one-legged squat, just a few inches down.  Push through the heel to come up and repeat for 10 reps and switch legs.  Use medium weights for this exercise.
Repeat 1-2 times
1.  Barbell Deadlift
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Hold a heavy barbell in front of the thighs, knees slightly bent. Keeping abs in and shoulders back, tip from the hips and lower the weight towards the floor, stopping when you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Squeeze the glutes to stand back up, repeating for 12 reps.
2.  One-Legged Deadlift
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 Stand holding a heavy dumbbell in both hands.  Take the left leg back a few inches, toe lightly touching the floor.  Keeping the shoulders back, abs in and the back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weight towards the floor.  Push into the heel to go back to starting position, repeating for 10 reps on each side.
3.  Deadlift Lunge

Get into a lunge position with the back foot resting on a step or platform holding medium weights. Make sure the front leg is far enough forward that the knee stays behind the toe as you lunge. Bend the knees into a lunge while simultaneously lowering the torso towards the thigh and bringing the weights towards the floor. Keeping the torso down, straighten the front knee into a deadlift.  Bend the knee and push back to start, repeating for 10 reps before switching sides.
Repeat 1-2 times
1.  Static Lunge with Barbell

Place a medium-heavy barbell on the shoulders and take the right foot forward, left foot back. Bend the knees into a lunge, going straight down and keeping front knee behind the toe. Push into the front heel to stand back up, repeating for 12 reps before switching sides.
2.  One-Leg Lunge with Reach

Place the left foot/shin on the ball and hold a medium weight in your left hand. Bend the right knee into a lunge as you roll the ball back with your left leg. At the same time, reach the left hand out, keeping the abs engaged. Squeeze the right leg to roll the ball back to starting position. Repeat for 12 reps and switch sides.
3.  Low Lunge

Stand in a split stance with feet close together.  Hold medium weights and bend the knees, taking the weight towards the floor.  Keeping the abs engaged and the shoulders back, push into the front heel and lift halfway up. Lower down and repeat, only coming up a few inches for each rep.  Complete 10 reps on each side.
Repeat 1-2 times
1.  Bent-Over Leg Lift

Bend over with hands behind the back, abs engaged.  Take the left leg out to the side, toe on the floor and bend the right knee into a squat.  Straighten the right leg as you lift the left leg a few inches off the floor.  Keep the hip, knee and foot in alignment and facing the front of the room. Repeat for 10 reps and switch sides.
2.  Side Squat with Inner Thigh Lift

Secure one end of a band to a sturdy object near the floor and loop the other end around the right foot.  Step far enough away that there's light tension on the band.  Step out with the left leg into a side squat.  Keeping the weight in the left leg, stand up and bring the right foot in front of the body, leg turned out, focusing on the inner thigh.  Continue with the squat and leg lift for 10 reps before switching sides.
3. Hamstring Roll with Leg Lift

Prop the heels on the ball with legs straight, hips lifted.  Roll the ball in, squeezing the hamstrings.  Roll the ball out and, keeping the hips lifted, take the right foot off the ball a few inches.  Lower the foot, do another hamstring roll and then lift the left leg off the ball.  Continue, alternating leg lifts for 8 reps total.
Repeat 1-2 times
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Related Video
Lower Body Toning with Lunges and Squats
How to Stretch Your Lower Body

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