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3 Science-Backed Leg Workouts for More Hypertrophy, Power, and Strength

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Key Takeaways

  1. The three rules for proper leg training are: 1. Do exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 2. Focus on lifting heavy weights. 3. Emphasize progressive overload.
  2. The best leg exercises are those that allow you to safely move heavy loads and most improve your strength.
  3. If you’re an intermediate+ weightlifter and you want to get the most out of your leg training, work in multiple rep ranges and with weights ranging from 70 to 90% of your 1RM.

Hey you, have a high five.

The fact that you’re here means you’re looking for good leg workouts, which means you actually do train or at least plan on training your lower body, which makes you a rare breed (if you’re a guy, at least).

As you well know, most guys rarely get around to leg training what with all the time needed for chest and biceps, and that’s why even the bigger ones in the gym often look a lot like this:

I should know because I used to be one of them. For years I avoided leg days like they were elevator rides with Ray Rice, and after many hundreds of “bro workouts,” here’s what I had to show for it:

Unfortunately I don’t have a “before” picture of my upper legs, but the state of my calves tells you everything you need to know.

But!

I’ve since repented and reformed, and while my legs are still lacking the separation and density that comes in time (and I’ve discovered that my calves are more stubborn than a radioactive mule), I’ve finally caught them up enough to where they’re not a glaring weakness . . .

A post shared by Mike Matthews (@muscleforlifefitness) on Jul 20, 2017 at 7:09am PDT

I can also hand-on-Bible swear that I’ve actually come to enjoy my leg workouts.

And in this article, I’m going to share with you all the key lessons I’ve learned about building a lower body that you can be proud of, and I’m also going to leave you with a ready-made leg workout routine that you can put into immediate use in the gym.

By the end, you’re going to have answers to questions about leg training that I’m asked all the time, including . . .

  • Are squats alone enough to build great legs or should you do other types of exercises, too?
  • Should you use lighter weights for more reps or heavier weights for fewer?
  • Can you do sprints, sled pushes, or other kinds of cardio instead of weightlifting to “tone up” your legs?
  • And more . . .

. . . and you’re going to understand the 20% about leg training that will deliver at least 80% of the long-term results.

So, if you want to know how I dramatically improved my legs and how you can build your best lower body ever, too, then keep reading.

The 3 Most Important Rules of Leg Training

Most people subscribe to one of the following leg training philosophies:

  1. You should do a wide variety of higher rep compound and isolation exercises and machines.
  2. You should just SWKAT heavy a few times per week.

Both of these approaches are better than nothing, but neither is optimal for maximizing all-around muscle development and strength gain.

The first approach produces underwhelming leg size and strength and can quickly land you in a rut of little to no progression.

The second approach is generally more effective, but it can also lead to imbalances between your upper and lower body as well as your quadriceps and hamstrings.

The better way is in the middle, and can be summarized like this:

  1. Do exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
  2. Focus on lifting heavier weights.
  3. Emphasize progressive overload.

Let’s look at each.

Leg Training Rule #1
Do Exercises for the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Glutes

Your legs are comprised of several large muscle groups including the . . .

  • Quadriceps, which are the muscles on the front of your thighs.
  • Hamstrings, which are the muscles on the back of your thighs.
  • Glutes, which are the muscles that make up your butt.

(Your calves are also part of your legs, but those bastards will get their own treatment in another article.)

Each of these major leg muscle groups is made up of smaller muscles. Let’s look at them separately.

The Quadriceps

The quadriceps are a set of four large muscles known as the . . .

  • Vastus lateralis
  • Vastus medialis
  • Vastus intermedius
  • Rectus femoris

(Interestingly, new research indicates there’s a fifth muscle involved, so maybe we should be talking about the quintraceps instead?)

Here’s how they look:

Together the quadriceps muscles work to extend the knees and flex the hips, which is why quadriceps exercises involve bringing the hips from an extended to a flexed position (bending the joint) and bring the knee from a flexed to an extended position (straightening the joint).

When the quads are well developed, they form the centerpiece of the legs. Case in point:

Many people believe that you can get all of the quad development you need from heavy back squatting alone, and while this holds true for some people, most need to do more to develop truly impressive thighs.

(For example, two of my favorite exercises for emphasizing the quads are front squats and lunges.)

The Hamstrings

The hamstrings are a set of three large muscles known as the . . .

  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Biceps femoris, which is split into two “heads” or sections, just like the biceps in your arm.

Here’s how they look:

The hamstrings work together to flex the knee (think hamstring curl machine) and extend the hips (think hip thrust and deadlift).

Unfortunately, the hamstrings tend to be one of the most neglected muscles of the lower body because most people (knowingly or otherwise) spend a disproportionate amount of time doing exercises that emphasize the quads (like back squats).

While the squat does involve the hamstrings, the quads do the lion’s share of the work, and this is especially true with the type of squatting that you often seen in the gym (quarter- and half-repping).

This can create a muscular imbalance between the front and back of the legs that not only looks odd and limits your strength on exercises like the deadlift, but may even increase the risk of injury in various physical activities and sports.

The Glutes

The gluteus muscles, or “glutes,” are a set of three large muscles known as the . . .

  • The gluteus maximus
  • The gluteus minimus
  • The gluteus medius

Here’s how they look:

God gave us a booty for more than just twerking, too.

Together, the glutes play a key role in stabilizing your body during all kinds of movements, and as far as weightlifting goes, they also need to generate a tremendous amount of force in exercises like the deadlift and squat.

Now, if you’re training your lower body correctly, you don’t need to do special exercises for your glutes to continue progressing in your workouts. That said, if you feel your glutes are a weak point in your physique, or if you just want a bigger butt, then you should include glute-specific exercises in your workout routine.

Leg Training Rule #2
Focus on Lifting Heavier Weights

I used to think that heavy, lower-rep lifting was for building strength, not gaining size.

I was wrong.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last decade of studying, training, and coaching others is this:

As a natural weightlifter, your number one long-term goal should be increasing your whole-body strength.

So long as you make that your primary focus in your training, you’ll have no trouble gaining the size you want.

The reason for this is while you can gain a fair amount of muscle in the beginning without gaining much strength, once you graduate to an intermediate lifter, strength and size become closely correlated.

In other words, once your “honeymoon phase” is over and your body is no longer hyper-responsive to resistance training, you’re going to have to get a lot stronger if you want to continue getting bigger.

How do you best do that?

Well, while exercise science is complex and there are many more questions than answers, the evidence is clear on this one: Heavy resistance training is the most effective way to get stronger.

And that’s why us natural weightlifters need to do a lot of heavy weightlifting if we want to gain significant amounts of muscle and strength.

This isn’t a special rule just for the legs, either. It applies equally to every major muscle group in the body, including the smaller, more stubborn ones like the shoulders, calves, and arms.

Therefore, if you want to get dense, defined, or even just “toned” legs as quickly as possible, then you want to increase your leg strength as quickly as possible, and that means doing a lot of heavy leg training.

If you’re new to proper weightlifting (less than one year of training under your belt), you could focus exclusively on the 4-to-6 rep range and do fantastically.

Once you’re an intermediate weightlifter, though, you can benefit from adding some higher-rep work into your routines. (There are several reasons for this, but they go a bit beyond the scope of this article. If you want to dive into the physiology, though, check out this article to learn more.)

“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “ does a billion reps in his leg workouts and has legs like tree trunks . . . What gives?”

Unfortunately, steroid use is rampant in this space, and especially among competitors, models, and social media influencers, and these drugs change everything.

With the right drugs, you can just sit in the gym for a few hours every day doing set after set, exercise after exercise, and your legs will just get bigger and bigger. (A bit of reductive, I know, but more accurate than inaccurate.)

For example, one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine gave a relatively small dosage of testosterone (600 mg per week) to one group of weightlifters and a placebo to another group for 10 weeks.

In the end, the natty group gained 4.4 pounds of muscle and added 25 pounds to their squat, which is good progress for intermediate lifters.

The roiderz, however, gained a whopping 13.4 pounds of muscle and added 84 pounds to their back squat, and also walked away with twice the amount of size gained in their quads. In 10 freaking weeks. That borders on witchcraft.

Don’t worry, though. You don’t need drugs to build a set of great wheels. You just need a bit of know-how, hard work, and patience.

Leg Training Rule #3
Emphasize Progressive Overload

As you now know, if you stop getting stronger, you’ll eventually stop getting bigger.

That’s why you must make progressive overload the key focus of your training.

In simple terms, progressive overload is the progressive increasing of tension levels in the muscle fibers over time, and research shows it’s the most effective way to stimulate muscle growth.

Therefore, you can do all of the drop sets, supersets, eccentric sets, and other fancy training techniques you want, but if you don’t get progressive overload right, you’re always going to struggle to gain muscle effectively.

How do you get it right?

Simple: you gradually increase the amount of weight you’re lifting over time. In other words, you get stronger.

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The 8 Best Leg Exercises

Now that you have some basic theory under your belt, let’s talk leg exercises.

Some are better suited to our goals than others because they allow us to safely move heavy loads and most increase our strength, and these should be the primary focus of our leg workouts.

These exercises are, unsurprisingly, mostly compound movements.

Let’s take a look at each.

Barbell Back Squat

The barbell back squat is the single most effective leg exercise you can do for gaining size and strength.

Its benefits extend beyond that, too, because it’s really a whole-body exercise that engages every major muscle group but your chest.

You want to make sure you do it correctly, though. Bad form not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, it also increases the risk of injury.

The main reasons people don’t squat are that it’s hard, it looks dangerous, and it feels awkward when you’re starting out.

That’s why you’re going to enjoy and benefit from squats much more if you learn good form from the get-go.

Here’s a great video that breaks it all down:

Before we move on to the next exercise, let’s take a minute to answer a question you might have:

Should you full squat (“ass to grass”) or stop at/just below parallel?

Well, the full squat makes the legs, and butt in particular, do more work, but it also requires quite a bit of mobility and flexibility—more than most people have. It can also aggravate some people’s hips and low-back more than parallel squatting, without offering much more in terms of muscle growth.

This is why I don’t recommend full squatting unless you’re an experienced weightlifter that a) knows proper form (and how to prevent excessive buttwinking) and b) is flexible enough to “ATG” properly.

If that’s not you, work with the parallel squat instead and you’ll do just fine. Full squatting is not necessary for building a big, strong set of legs.

Barbell Front Squat

The barbell front squat is one of my favorite leg exercises.

Research shows that it emphasizes the quadriceps more than the back squat (which involves more hamstring), but it also places less stress on the knees and lower back, making it ideal for giving your joints a break or working around joint problems.

Here’s how to do it:

And a heads up: this feels as uncomfortable as it looks at first. The more you do it, though, the better it gets, until eventually the bar position doesn’t bother you at all.

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift, or RDL, is one of the best exercises you can do for your hamstrings and glutes.

It’s similar to a regular deadlift, except it uses a slightly shorter range of motion and puts more stress on the hamstrings and glutes without overly taxing the lower back.

Here’s how it works:

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is quickly becoming more and more popular among high-level strength and conditioning coaches, and for good reason.

Research suggests that it may be as effective at increasing back squat one-rep max as the back squat itself while placing less strain on the lower back.

Furthermore, it differs from the front squat in that it more heavily involves the hamstrings.

It also prevents you from favoring one leg more than the other, which can happen fairly easily with barbell squatting, making it helpful for preventing and fixing muscle imbalances.

Here’s how it works:

Leg Press Machine

The leg press is one of the few worthwhile machines for leg training, and for building the quadriceps in particular.

There are two types of leg press machines found in most gyms.

One has you seated more or less upright, pressing the weight straight out and back:

And the other has you seated, pressing the weight up at a 45-degree angle:

I much prefer the latter as it allows for a fuller range of motion. Here’s how to do it:

Hamstring (Leg) Curl

The hamstring/leg curl is a simple but effective machine for targeting the hamstrings.

Most gyms have machines for both seated and lying curls, and I much prefer the latter because it feels more comfortable (and especially with heavier weights).

Here’s how to do it:

Hack Squat (Machine)

Like the leg press, the hack squat machine emphasizes the quadriceps and requires less technical skill and stabilizing muscles than a free weight squat.

It’s particularly useful for sets that you plan on taking to absolute muscle failure (like rest-pause sets) because if you get stuck, you can easily sit the weight down without getting hurt.

Here’s how to do it:

Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is all the rage these days because, when done properly, it’s one of the best exercises you can do for your glutes.

It can be performed without weight:

Or with weight:

The Hypertrophy-Power-Strength Leg Workouts

In this leg workout routine, you’re going to train legs once per week, and you’re going to rotate between three different kinds of workouts every week (in the following order):

1. Leg Hypertrophy Workout

In these workouts, you’ll work in the 8-to-10 rep range (~75% of 1RM) for all exercises.

2. Leg Power Workout

3. Leg Strength Workout

In these workouts, you’ll work in the 4-to-6 rep range for all exercises.

Don’t let the names of these workouts throw you off, by the way. All three will stimulate hypertrophy (muscle growth), power, and strength, but will emphasize each accordingly.

Here are the workouts:

Leg Hypertrophy Workout

Barbell Back Squat

Warm up and 2 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps (~75% of 1RM)

Leg Press or Hack Squat (Machine)

2 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps

Hamstring (Leg) Curl

2 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps

(Optional) Barbell Hip Thrust

3 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps

Leg Power Workout

Barbell Back Squat

3 sets of . . .

2 to 3 reps (~90% of 1RM)

Barbell Front Squat

2 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps (~85% of 1RM)

Bulgarian Split Squat

2 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

(Optional) Barbell Hip Thrust

3 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

Leg Strength Workout

Barbell Back Squat

Warm up and 3 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps (~85% of 1RM)

Barbell Front Squat

3 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

Hamstring (Leg) Curl

2 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets of . . .

4 to 6 reps

(Optional) Barbell Hip Thrust

3 sets of . . .

8 to 10 reps

And a few odds and ends on how to do these workouts:

Once you hit the top of your rep range for one set, move up in weight.

This is how you ensure that you’re progressively overloading your muscles.

For instance, if you’re doing the Strength workout and get 6 reps with 135 pounds on your back squat, add 5 pounds to each side of the bar for your next set.

If, on the next set, you can get at least 4 reps with 145 pounds, that’s the new weight you work with until you can squat it for 6 reps, move up, and so forth.

If you get 3 or fewer reps, though, reduce the weight added by 5 pounds (140 pounds) and see how the next set goes. If you still get 3 or fewer, reduce the weight to the original 6-rep load and work with that until you can do two 6-rep sets with it, and then increase.

Yes, this is going to feel like a lot of standing around, but resting properly is a hugely important part of heavy weightlifting, especially for taxing exercises like the back squat.

This is the time where your muscles recoup their strength so you can give maximum effort each set.

Lower body exercises like the squat also involve more muscle mass than upper body exercises, like the bench press, and thus generally require more rest between sets.

Make sure you’re eating enough food.

You probably know that you’re supposed to eat a fair amount of protein to build muscle, but total caloric intake also plays a major role as well.

Read this article to learn more.

The Hypertrophy-Power-Strength Leg Workout Routine

This leg workout routine is simple but effective.

For 12 weeks, I want you to rotate between these three workouts—hypertrophy, power, strength—doing one per week. Thus, you’ll do each workout a total of four times over the course of three months.

I also want you to deload as needed (read this article to learn more).

Here’s how this will look:

Once you’ve completed this 12-week training block (mesocycle), you have two options:

  1. You can keep following the routine if you’re seeing good gains.
  2. You can change it up for the next 12 weeks, doing the Hypertrophy workout once per week for 4 weeks, followed by the Power workout once per week for 4 weeks, followed by the Strength workout once per week for 4 weeks.

The first option is straightforward—you just keep plugging along.

If you want to go through the second option, though, here’s what that would look like:

And in terms of fitting these workouts into your larger workout routine, here are a few pointers:

  • Don’t do a leg workout the day before or after a heavy /pull workout because your legs and low-back will be fatigued. Put at least one day in between these workouts (two is optimal).
  • If you want to maximize leg development, train them on your first training day of the week, when you’re freshest (and before you fatigue them with back/pull workouts in particular).
  • If you’re rotating between the three workouts and miss one week for whatever reason, don’t skip the workout you missed—just do it the following week and carry on.

What About Supplements?

I saved this part for last because it’s the least important.

The truth is most supplements for building muscle and losing fat are worthless.

Unfortunately, no amount of pills and powders are going to make you muscular and lean.

That said, if you know how to drive muscle growth with proper dieting and exercise, certain supplements can accelerate the process.

Here are the ones I use and recommend:

ATLAS Mass Gainer

In an ideal world, we’d get all of our daily calories from carefully prepared, nutritionally balanced meals, and we’d have the time to sit down, slow down, and savor each and every bite.

In the real world, though, we’re usually rushing from one obligation to another and often forget to eat anything, let alone the optimal foods for building muscle, losing fat, and staying healthy.

That’s why meal replacement and “weight gainer” supplements and protein bars and snacks are more popular than ever.

Unfortunately, most contain low-quality protein powders and large amounts of simple sugars and unnecessary junk.

That’s why I created ATLAS.

It’s a delicious “weight gainer” (meal replacement) supplement that provides you with 38 grams of high-quality protein per serving, along with 51 grams of nutritious, food-based carbohydrates, and just 6 grams of natural fats, as well as 26 micronutrients, enzymes, and probiotics that help you feel and perform your best.

ATLAS is also 100% naturally sweetened and flavored as well, and contains no chemical dyes, cheap fillers, or other unnecessary junk.

So, if you want to build muscle and lose fat as quickly as possible and improve the nutritional quality of your diet, then you want to try ATLAS today.

RECHARGE Post-Workout Supplement

RECHARGE is a 100% natural post-workout supplement that helps you gain muscle and strength faster, and recover better from your workouts.

Once it’s had time to accumulate in your muscles (about a week of use), the first thing you’re going to notice is increased strength and anaerobic endurance, less muscle soreness, and faster post workout muscle recovery.

And the harder you can train in your workouts and the faster you can recover from them, the more muscle and strength you’re going to build over time.

Furthermore, RECHARGE doesn’t need to be cycled, which means it’s safe for long-term use, and its effects don’t diminish over time.

It’s also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.

So, if you want to be able to push harder in the gym, train more frequently, and get more out of your workouts, then you want to try RECHARGE today.

WHEY+ Protein Powder

Whey protein powder is a staple in most athletes’ diets for good reason.

It’s digested quickly, it’s absorbed well, it has a fantastic amino acid profile, and it’s easy on the taste buds.

Not all whey proteins are created equal, though.

Whey concentrate protein powder, for example, can be as low as 30% protein by weight, and can also contain a considerable amount of fat and carbs.

And the more fat and carbs you’re drinking, the less you can actually enjoy in your food.

Whey isolate protein powder, on the other hand, is the purest whey protein you can buy. It’s 90%+ protein by weight and has almost no fat or carbs.

Another benefit of whey isolate is it contains no lactose, which means better digestibility and fewer upset stomachs.

Well, WHEY+ is a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate protein powder made from exceptionally high-quality milk from small dairy farms in Ireland.

It contains no GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk, and it tastes delicious and mixes great.

So, if you want a clean, all-natural, and great tasting whey protein supplement that’s low in calories, carbs, and fat, then you want to try WHEY+ today.

PULSE Pre-Workout

Is your pre-workout simply not working anymore?

Are you sick and tired of pre-workout drinks that make you sick and tired?

Have you had enough of upset stomachs, jitters, nausea, and the dreaded post-workout crash?

Do you wish your pre-workout supplement gave you sustained energy and more focus and motivation to train? Do you wish it gave you noticeably better workouts and helped you hit PRs?

If you’re nodding your head, then you’re going to love PULSE.

It increases energy, improves mood, sharpens mental focus, increases strength and endurance, and reduces fatigue…without unwanted side effects or the dreaded post-workout crash.

It’s also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.

Lastly, it contains no proprietary blends and each serving delivers nearly 20 grams of active ingredients scientifically proven to improve performance.

So, if you want to feel focused, tireless, and powerful in your workouts…and if you want to say goodbye to the pre-workout jitters, upset stomachs, and crashes for good…then you want to try PULSE today.

The Bottom Line on the Best Leg Workouts

Getting great legs doesn’t require overly complex workout plans, endless hours in the gym, or drugs.

So long as you do plenty of heavy weightlifting, get stronger over time, and do a variety of exercises that emphasize the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes separately, you’ll do fantastically.

And that’s exactly what this leg workout routine will do for you.

You’ll also want to make sure you eat enough food and get enough sleep, and if you want an extra boost, take the right supplements, too.

Do all of that, and I promise you’ll be happy with the results.

Want More Workouts?

The Perfect Chest Workout Routine for More Hypertrophy, Power, and Strength

How to Get a Bigger and Stronger Chest in Just 30 Days

The Ultimate Chest Workout

This Is The Last Upper Body Workout You’ll Ever Need

Shoulder Workouts

This Is the Perfect Shoulder Workout Routine for Big and Strong Delts

How to Get Bigger and Stronger Shoulders in Just 30 Days

The Ultimate Shoulder Workout

4 Rotator Cuff Exercises That You Should Be Doing (and Why)

Arm Workouts

How to Get Bigger and Stronger Biceps in Just 30 Days

How to Get Bigger and Stronger Triceps in Just 30 Days

The Ultimate Arms Workout

Back Workouts

The Perfect Back Workout Routine for More Hypertrophy, Power, and Strength

How to Get a Bigger and Stronger Back in Just 30 Days

The Ultimate Back Workout

Leg Workouts

How to Get Bigger and Stronger Legs in Just 30 Days

This Is The Last Lower Body Workout You’ll Ever Need

The Ultimate Legs Workout

Butt Workouts

How to Get a Bigger and Rounder Butt in Just 30 Days

The Best Butt Exercises for Building Head-Turning Glutes

If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you like to hang out online! 🙂

What’s your take on leg workouts? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Explosive Leg Exercises that Will Unlock Your Performance

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Think about jumping as high as you can. Before you jump, you dip at the knees to create a slingshot effect. This is called the stretch-shortening cycle.

The following explosive leg exercises target the stretch-shortening cycle to build power. They are intense exercises, and they are taxing on your legs. Do them only once a week and in the off-season. Rest between sets and keep your repetitions to no more than six.

Explosive Leg Exercises

Box Jump

  • Stand facing either a 24- or 36-inch box.
  • Dip your knees and explode up onto the box, landing with both feet together and your knees soft.
  • Lock out your hips on top to stick the landing.
  • Use the momentum of your arms to propel you upward.
  • For an added challenge, do a Depth Jump: start on one box and drop to the ground before exploding back up to the next box. Remember to land soft.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×6 with 2 minutes between sets.

Power Clean

The Clean part of the Olympic lift Clean and Jerk is the most explosive movement you can do in the weight room.

  • Stand over a bar with your shins resting against it. Your feet should be pretty narrow, inside your hips, but point your knees out.
  • Grip the bar outside of your legs and tighten your back. Visualize squeezing your lats and pulling the bar into your body.
  • Take a deep breath in and take the slack out of the bar.
  • Slowly raise your hips and shoulders at the same rate until the bar is just above your knees in the power position. At this point, violently extend your hips, knees, and ankles, while shrugging your shoulders upward.
  • The bar should feel weightless for a split second while you drop underneath it and catch it in the front rack position. The bar should be resting on your anterior deltoids, and your elbows should be up.
  • Extend your hips and knees before bringing the bar back to the ground.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×6 with 2 minutes between sets.

Snatch

The Snatch is the other Olympic lift. The Clean represents power. The Snatch represents speed.

  • The start of the Snatch is exactly like the Clean, except your hands are wider on the bar. This drops your hips lower to the ground and gives you a more vertical torso.
  • Remember to push your knees out. Think of a frog about to jump.
  • The key to the Snatch is being able to quickly pull yourself beneath the bar and catch the weight with your arms extended as if you were doing an overhead squat.
  • During the second pull from the power position, keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Think of the bar taking off your shirt. The straighter the bar path, the more weight you will be able to lift.
  • After the catch, extend your hips and stand upright before returning the bar to the ground.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×6 with 2 minutes between sets.

Push Jerk

The Push Jerk is the second part of the traditional Olympic Clean and Jerk.

  • Start from the rack position. The only difference is that your elbows should be a little more vertical than they would be at the end of the Power Clean. If you have flexibility issues with your wrists, you should hold the bar more in your palms as opposed to your fingers. This allows greater control when you overhead press the weight.
  • The counter movement is a dip from the knees followed by a quick extension and an Overhead Press. You should feel as if the bar is weightless very quickly. Your shoulders should not handle the brunt of the weight until the catch position.
  • While the bar is weightless, bend your knees and pull yourself under it to catch it with your arms extended.
  • Extend your hips to finish the exercise.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×6 with 2 minutes between sets.

Jumping Lunges

Most sports require unilateral explosiveness. Most athletic movements are single-leg in nature. Therefore, you should perform single-leg exercises as much as possible.

  • Start in a standard lunge position. Your chest should be upright and in line with your toes. Your back leg should be almost fully extended with your knee just off of the ground.
  • Start with a small counter movement and explosively jump up and switch your legs in the air.
  • Land with soft knees by catching yourself before your back knee hits the ground. Use your arms to help propel yourself up.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×6 with 2 minutes between sets.

Read more: Photo: theepochtimes.com

Lower-body Plyometric Workout

Plyometric exercises yield tremendous benefits in strength, coordination and balance, while also increasing caloric expenditure. For these reasons, incorporating plyometrics into your clients’ programming can be a great way to complement their lower-body strength-training routines.

Because it is a ballistic, high-intensity mode of training, plyometrics are not appropriate for every client. Ask the following questions before adding plyometrics into a client’s strength routine.

  • Is the client ready for this progression?
  • Does the client exhibit the proper postural and movement mechanics?
  • Does he or she know how to land?
  • Can the client complete at least five repetitions of squats with 60 percent of his or her body weight within five seconds?

Plyometric training utilizes the anaerobic energy system, so the amount of sustainable energy available for muscular contraction is limited. When designing your programs, keep in mind work-to-rest ratio guidelines, which will help you minimize the potential of injury due to fatigue.

The intensity at which the following exercises are performed will determine the amount of rest needed for adequate recovery. Each exercise can be performed for up to 30 seconds for three sets. Depending on the intensity of the workout, recovery times might range from 30 seconds to five minutes. This will also depend on the goals and fitness level of each individual client. Although you will want to have the client complete as many repetitions as possible in the allotted time, ensure that form and quality of movement is maintained throughout the set. Always emphasize quality over quantity.

Jump Squats

  • Begin with the feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
  • Squat down.
  • Swing the arms back.
  • Jump and simultaneously lift the torso while swinging the arms upward.
  • Land softly on both feet at the same time, mid-foot, in a squat position.

Switch Jumps

  • Begin with the feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
  • Squat down.
  • Jump and change direction (180 degrees).
  • Land softly on both feet at the same time, mid-foot, in a squat position.
  • Return to the starting position and continue to switch directions until the end of the set.

Plyo Skips

  • Begin with the feet hip-distance apart.
  • Drive one knee at a time, upward, propelling off the floor.
  • Gain as much height as possible with each skip.
  • Alternate knees continuously until the end of set.
  • Land softly, mid-foot, on each jump.

Straddle Box Jumps

  • Begin at the top of a bench (a Reebok step bench would be ideal).
  • Jump down, straddling the bench. Land softly, mid-foot, on the floor.
  • Jump back on top of the bench.
  • Repeat until the end of the set.

*Warm up with a 20 minute walk or jog and/or active dynamic stretching {high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, air squats with arms reaching overhead}.

Goblet Squat + Calf Raise

how to do it:

  • Stand holding the top of a dumbbell close to your chest. This will be your starting position.
  • Squat down between your legs until your hamstrings are on your calves. Keep your chest and head up and your back straight.
  • At the bottom position, pause and use your elbows to push your knees out.
  • Push through the bottom of your feet to standing position coming up onto your toes into a calf raise
  • Lower your heels to return to the starting position, and repeat for desired reps

Hopscotch Squats

how to do it:

  • Bouncing off the balls of your feet, jump your feet wide.
  • Hop back to center on your left foot, then jump your feet wide.
  • Hop back to center on your right foot, and continue alternating in this pattern.

Messier Squats

how to do it:

  • Position feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly pointed out, holding the dumbbell with both hand at the center of your chest
  • Contract core and maintain an upright chest position
  • Flex at the hips and knees by pushing in a backward motion to lower body into a wide squat stance
  • Slowly lower hips until tops of thighs are parallel to floor
  • Keeping your knees in line with your toes, shift to your center into a lateral lunge stance
  • From this position shift hips through the starting position into the opposite lunge stance
  • Continue to shift hips side to side while keeping your chest high and core tight

Heisman Bounds

how to do it:

  • Assume a half squat position facing 90 degrees from your direction of travel.
  • Allow your lead leg to do a countermovement inward as you shift your weight to the outside leg.
  • Immediately push off and extend, attempting to bound to the side as far as possible.
  • Upon landing, immediately push off in the opposite direction, returning to your original start position.
  • Continue back and forth for several repetitions.

Table Top Glute Stamps + Dumbbell

how to do it:

  • Start in a tabletop position, knees under hips, hands directly under your shoulders
  • Place dumbbell behind one knee bent at 90 degrees, flex foot and thrust foot up into the air activating your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Perform all reps on one leg and switch legs for the second set

Dumbbell Swings

how to do it:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart holding weight out in front of the body.
  • Lower the weight back between your legs keeping your back straight (move your butt back not your knees forward). T
  • hen thrust the hips forward squeezing those glutes and keeping the core tight to swing the weight up to approximately shoulder height.
  • Continue this swinging movement with control for desired reps

Squat + Donkey Kick

how to do it:

  • Start with your legs shoulder width distance apart, arms comfortably at your sides
  • With weight in your heels, chest lifted perform a squat; bringing your arms/hands forward toward your chest
  • Keep your butt back and chest lifted as you push up, pressing your hips up and forward
  • Return to standing position
  • Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and kick it straight back towards the wall behind you
  • Bring knee back into starting position and back to initial squat position
  • Repeat squat and donkey kick back with your left foot
  • Continue to alternate legs with a squat between each kick back

Lunge + Squat Jumps

how to do it:

  • Stand with your left foot in front of you and point both feet forward. Lunge down while leaning your torso forward slightly without rounding your spine.
  • Jump straight up, swinging your arms over your head and extending your torso.
  • Land with both feet in a standard squat position
  • Lower into a squat and explode up landing with your right foot forward in a lunge
  • Continue to alternate lunge jump, standard squat, jump lunge
  • Repeat the entire set for desired reps

Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor before starting a new fitness regime. While Lee from Fit Foodie Finds and Monique from Ambitious Kitchen worked with a professional trainer to design the Summer Sweat Series exercise program, you are participating at your own risk. Please listen to your body and modify as needed.

Plyometric Exercises for Legs

Plyometric exercise is a great training method for building explosive strength, and because of which, it is often a form of exercise used by anyone from athletes to the military.

The types of movements involve rapid explosive concentric movements, preceded by eccentric contractions. These explosive movements elicit enhanced force production from the stretch–shortening cycle.

Find out more about the Principles of Plyometric Exercises here.

Most people could benefit for adding plyometric exercises to their fitness program, so if you’re not yet incorporating these types of exercises into your workout, check out the plyometric exercises below and add a few in.

Front Box Jump

The front box jump is probably the first exercise that comes to mind when people think of plyometric exercises, and for good reason. It is very a simple movement pattern and is very effective for working your quadriceps and glutes in the plyometric fashion.

  • Place a box in front of you
  • Get into a squat position
  • Explode upwards using your legs and arms to land on the box
  • Stand up straight
  • Step down off the box and repeat

You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by either adding weight by using a weighted jacket or holding small dumbbells or using a seat. Adding a seat makes your legs have to work harder from the halfway position.

Side Box Jump

Similar to the front box jump but as you might have guessed, jumping sideways onto the box.

  • Place a box to the side of you
  • Get into a squat position
  • Explode upwards and to the side using your legs and arms to land on the box
  • Stand up straight
  • Step down off the box and repeat

This is a great one to add to the front box jump as it incorporates your stabilising muscles of the adductors.

Weighted Lateral Jumps

Similar to the above, however rather than jumping upwards, you are jumping more lateral. This works the adductors more than the side box jump and it can be safer to add weight.

  • Place a barbell or something low to the side to jump over (the height of the prop depends on your skill level)
  • Stand with your feet close together
  • Hold a weight, either a plate, medicine ball or dumbbell (weight depends on strength level)
  • Jump over the prop continually without stopping
  • Stay light on your feet

This might wear you out more quickly than the side box jump, as there is less time between jumps and the added weight can help fatigue your muscles quicker.

Lateral Skater Jumps

Another exercise to help build strength in your quadriceps and glute muscles is the skater jump. Like the lateral jump but this time, you are using one leg at a time to jump off.

  • Start in a squat position with most of your weight on your right leg
  • Lift your left leg slightly
  • Push off your right leg, jumping to the side
  • Land softly and with control on your left leg
  • Repeat for your left leg and landing back on your right leg

It is important to make sure you have a good amount of room around you. The distance you jump to the side largely depends on your ability.

Scissor Jumps

Also known as a jumping lunge, as you are essentially jumping from a lunge on one leg to the other.

  • Start in the standard lunge position
  • Squat down and explode into a jump
  • Switch leg position in mid-air
  • Land softly and jump again
  • Continually perform movement, switching legs each time

Additional notes:

Resting between sets is important for most forms of exercise; this is particularly true for plyometric exercises, because to get the most out of each exercise you want to be able to exert maximum explosiveness. Take one-minute rests in-between sets. If you find this is not long enough, add an extra 30 seconds.

Try to be as strict as possible with your technique and focus on safety first. Do not try to jump onto the biggest box, or as quickly as possible straight away. Start small and gradually increase the difficulty with your progress, and always within your means.

Warm up correctly before going into plyometric exercises. Because the movements are all about explosiveness, if your muscles are not sufficiently warm and ready to respond you can easily cause damage and injury. Do some star jumps, spotty dogs, running on the spot until the legs muscles are awake and ready to act.

Plyometrics workouts are ideal for building explosive speed beneficial to athletes of sports such as basketball, soccer, martial arts, football and many more.
These types of programs train the muscles in a very particular way in order to create quick, powerful movements that take little reaction time to conjure. Workouts that use these types of exercises build strong, fast athletes because of the way they stretch and then contract the muscles.
This is a plyometric workout that focuses largely on the legs, though they require enough effort from the entire body to garner cardiovascular benefits as well. For the most benefit from these moves, wear a weighted vest while you do this routine.
How to do this plan
Do each exercise for the listed number of repetitions. Do the entire routine at least twice through, but three times for the most benefit.
Warm up:
1 Minute Jumping Jacks
1 Minute High Knees
15 Broad jumps
15 Squat Jacks
15 Burpees
10 Agility Dots on each leg, both directions
15 Lateral Jumps
15 Knee Tuck Jumps
15 Jumping lunges
Cool Down and Stretch
Do this plan 2-3 times through, 2-3 times a week for best results.
Doing this routinet on a regular basis will result in a stronger athlete that has a shorter reaction time and more stamina for their sport. Combine and alternate this workout with sustained cardio in order to build endurance. Always be sure to do a cool down and a thorough stretching routine after a strenuous workout like this one in order to lessen the likelihood of muscle strains and injuries.
Use plyometrics with caution:
• You should only do these exercises and/or plyo workouts if you are already well conditioned, and flexible.
• Doing this high impact workout more than 3 or 4 times a week can cause damage to muscles and joints.
• This kind of training is high impact by nature; use precaution if you have bad joints.
• Individuals heavier than 245 pounds should do only low impact exercises.
• Always do this kind of high impact training on an even, soft surface (level grass or wood gym floors are okay, but avoid asphalt).

Use Plyometric Exercises To Make Explosive Gains

In the pursuit of gaining muscular size and strength, most people fixate on lifting weights. And that’s why most people fail to achieve their muscle mass and raw power potential. Including bodyweight plyometric moves – such as box jumps or clap press-ups – in your training is a highly effective way to increase both muscular size and power output, according to a study published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research. And the best bit (apart from not needing any kit) is that subjects who did plyometrics once or twice a week increased their 20m sprint time and maximal strength more than those who did four sessions.

But that’s not where the benefits end. The finding of a new study that suggests integrating balance drills with plyometric exercises, such as jump squats or vertical jumps, results in a “significant and substantial” improvement in muscle strength, power and speed. In the study, published in the Journal Of Sports Science And Medicine, subjects followed a balance and plyometric training programme, exercising on an unstable surface along with a series of jumping and hopping exercises. After eight weeks, performance in key athletic tests – including 10m and 30m sprints, and vertical jumps – improved by an average of 30%. Boost your performance by including some jump squats and Bosu ball squats as part of a legs session warm-up.

“Adding plyometric exercises to your routine will not only increase your athletic capabilities, it will also improve muscle mass by recruiting your fast-twitch fibres,” says trainer Alex Gildea. “Start by keeping the rep count low to perfect your technique and avoid injury.”

Box jump

Stand facing a box or other type of stable raised surface that’s about the same height as the top of your shins. With your feet hip-width apart, do a quarter squat then swing your arms back while simultaneously exploding off the ground and onto the box. Land with both feet, then step back down and repeat. Do three sets of five reps, resting for one to two minutes between sets.

Tuck Jump

From a standing position, drop into a shallow squat, then explode up off the ground. Keep your back straight and bring your knees as close to your chest as possible. Land softly then either bounce on the balls of your feet once before taking off again, or for a harder challenge go straight into another jump as soon as you land.

Frog Squat Jump

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Drop into a deep squat and sit back with your hands touching the ground between your feet for balance (like a frog). Then jump as high as you can and raise your hands above your head. Land softly and repeat.

Skater Jump

From a standing start, move your weight onto your right foot and move your left foot behind your right – the toes of your left foot should touch or hover slightly above the ground. Then jump laterally to your left and, as you land, bring your right foot behind your left. Repeat the movement at pace.

Broad Jump

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then drop into a shallow squat and swing your arms back. Swing your arms through and jump forward as far possible. This simple but effective exercise acts as good measure of your progress when aiming to build explosive power in your legs – after a few weeks of plyometric exercises you should notice your broad jumps cover a greater distance.

Standing Triple Jump

From a standing start leap forward as far as possible and land on one foot, then continue straight into another forward jump and land on the other foot. Then – you guessed it – go straight into a third jump and land on both feet. Even if you never intend to beat Jonathan Edwards’s unassailable triple jump world record, this is a great exercise for building power in both legs.

Jump squat

Squat down and load tension in your legs and glutes, then jump up powerfully, swinging your arms for momentum. Push your hips forwards at the top and exhale. Don’t roll your knees inwards when you land. Do 5-10 reps for 3-5 sets, resting 60sec between them.

Jump lunge

Start in a split stance and load tension on your front leg with your core engaged. Jump up powerfully and switch legs in mid-air to land with your other leg in front. Don’t let your knees go ahead of your toes. Do 5-10 reps per leg for 3-5 sets, resting 60sec between them.

Press-up burpee

Squat down, jump your feet back and do a press-up. From there bring your knees towards your chest, then jump up powerfully. Land softly by bending your knees and go straight into the next rep. Do as many reps as you can for between 30sec and 60sec.

Clap press-up

This move done in the same way as a normal press-up – except you explosively push yourself up off the floor, going high enough to lift your hands up from the floor, clap and put them back down on the floor (or you’ll land flat on your face). Focus on keeping your core tight and pushing down as hard as possible to lift your torso up high into the air. Build up strength by doing one clap press-up at the start of each set, then work up to doing five sets of three reps, resting for one to two minutes between sets.

Photo: Daily Burn Live to Fail

A leg workout isn’t just about chiseled quads, sculpted calves or a toned behind. Building strong muscles in your lower body translates to more power, speed and overall ease of movement. Plus, because your bottom half hosts the body’s biggest muscles, the more you strengthen them, the more calories you’ll burn with every movement.

Don’t believe us? Take it from Ben Booker, lead trainer for Daily Burn’s Live to Fail program (a strength training program for men and women). “I was once the guy that skipped leg day, or at least didn’t give it the attention it deserved when I first began lifting weights,” Booker says. That quickly changed when Booker learned how good it was for not only muscle growth in the lower body, but all over. “Men and women alike burn more calories for fat loss and increase metabolism when they consistently train legs. Body composition will change and your body will become more efficient.”

How can you turn that town? Time to turn up the burn with this leg workout, featuring four of Booker’s favorite power moves.

RELATED: 9 Reasons Not to Skip Leg Day

4-Exercise Leg Workout to Build Strength and Power

In this leg workout, you’ll superset two exercises — or perform them back-to-back to complete one set. When picking weights, Booker suggests starting lighter than you think you should. “Only do an amount of weight that allows you to keep proper form. As soon as you cannot keep the form, drop the weight and complete the rep ranges,” he says.

To maximize gains, do 10 to 12 reps of each exercise and four sets. Aim to tackle this leg day workout at least once a week — but twice is even better, Booker says. Just be sure to have two to three rest days between each session to allow for muscle repair and recovery.

RELATED: 6 Weightlifting Exercises to Build Serious Strength

Superset 1

GIFs: Daily Burn Live to Fail

1. Dumbbell Squat

Targets: Quads, hamstrings and shoulders (for weight stabilization)

How to: Start standing with feet just inside shoulder-width apart, holding your dumbbells in racked position with elbows bent and weights placed at shoulder height (a). Drop your hips down and back, keeping weight in your heels, for a squat. Don’t shift your bodyweight to the front of your foot. Heels should say on the ground, and weights stay directly over feet (b). Stand back up and repeat, keeping your back flat and chest tall (c).

2. Step-Ups

Targets: Upper quads, glutes, hamstrings and helps with hip mobility and balance

How to: Grab a box, bench or chair that’s high enough to challenge you, yet low enough that you don’t have to use your bottom foot to push off the floor. Stand in front of it, right leg on top and arms down by your sides, holding dumbbells (a). Step up on your right foot, pushing off your heel to stand straight up (b). With control, lower back to the ground, keeping your right foot on top. Back should stay flat and shoulders down, with minimal swinging of the weights (c). Repeat, then switch sides. Start each set with the opposite foot.

RELATED: 5 Moves for Your Butt, Hips and Thighs

Superset 2

3. Chair Squats with Calf Raise

Targets: Thighs, quads, calves and hamstrings

How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward (a). Lower your butt back and down until you come to sit on the chair (it should be low enough to provide a challenge). Move slow and with control to activate your hamstrings and stabilizer muscles (b). Stand back up, coming onto your toes as high as possible at the top for a calf raise (c). Repeat, minimizing the dumbbell swing and keeping your back flat and chest tall.

4. Side Lunge

Targets: Inner thighs, glutes and hamstrings

How to: Start with your legs at least six inches wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Hold one dumbbell with both hands under your chin (a). Shift your butt back and move your body over your right leg, bending your knee and going as long as you can while keeping the opposite leg straight. Your left foot can roll to the side, but keep your entire right foot planted (b). Stand back up straight (c). Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.

For more strength workouts, go to dailyburn.com/ltf to start your free trial today!

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When you think of leg exercises, odds are high your mind goes straight to squats, deadlifts, and variations thereof. But lower body moves enlist more than just your quads and hamstrings.

When you do these exercises, you’re not just hitting the major muscles. You also work your core, improve your balance, and hone things like grip strength, which pay dividends in the long run.

A strong lower body is crucial to performance—whether you’re looking to improve your sports performance, gym work, or just daily functional fitness. And yes, we said “strong lower body.”

For the sake of your physique and training results, here are 30 strength-building leg exercises to ensure you’re building three-dimensional muscle.

Choose a handful of moves to create a lower body-centric routine. Not sure how many reps to go with? Use our rep range guide. We highlight the benefits and argument for using high reps (15+), low reps (5 or less), and moderate reps (8-12) depending on your goals.

Want to incorporate more body-part exercises? Check out:

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You love running. And when your sport of choice involves the great outdoors, fresh air, and cruising down the road, you don’t want to be stuck inside doing strength exercises. I get that—I’m a runner, too. But I also want to run for the rest of my life.So I strength train two or three times a week.

Running can create muscle imbalances or accentuate ones you already have. Weak calves, for example, put too much stress on the Achilles and break down the fibers that make up the tendon. Unstable hip and core muscles hurt your biomechanics and overload your shins, which can lead to shin splints and stress fractures.

So in order to run well and stay healthy, it’s essential to incorporate some strategic strength training to your regular run routine. If you’re generally healthy—but especially if you have had shin splints, calf, or Achilles issues in the past—these five exercises will build the lower leg strength and endurance you need to run well.

How to use this list: Perform the exercises below, demonstrated by Mat Forzaglia, certified trainer and coach at Neo U Fitness, twice a week. If you’ve have had shin, calf, or Achilles issues in the past, perform these exercises daily. You will need a box or step and a set of weights.

Not only is it Chrismahanakwanza season and gain 15 pounds season, it’s also holiday party season. That means that more than likely, at some point in the next month, you will have to dress up in some sort of cocktail attire and squeeze your blistered, frozen, malformed toes into heels. But all those cookies likely didn’t do much good for your calves. You may be waltzing around sporting some cankles for all I know (gross).

Because this is the time of giving or something, here are five ways to get your legs heel-ready without having to go to the gym with the other losers promising themselves that this is like, REALLY the year they’re going to lose 10 pounds. Stop lying to yourself—I’ll see you at Taco Bell in February.

1. Planks With Leg Raises

Ugh, planks. Get into plank position, but lift your right leg up so it’s at least parallel to the floor, higher if you can. Put it back down and do the same with your left leg. Keep doing this till you die (or for 10-15 reps per side, whichever comes first).

2. High Knee Toe Taps

Grab a chair and put your hands on your hips like you mean it or something. Tap your left food on the bench, then swap and tap your right foot. Do this until you’re so tired you can’t breathe. This is more of a cardio exercise than a leg move, so go fast, like you’re running away from a guy who puts “good vibes only” in his Hinge profile. Anyway, with this exercise, go for bursts of 30 seconds and work up to longer intervals.

3. Side Lunges

You should know how to do a lunge, and if you don’t? Shame. Stand with your feet together, then take a big step to your left—bending your left knee and pushing your butt back—while keeping your right leg straight. Repeat on the other side, and alternate until the lure of cookies outweighs your desire to look nice. 10-20 reps per leg should be enough.

4. Inverted Inner Thigh Openers

These are my fav cause I can lie down and pretend I’m not actually working out. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then lift your right leg up, keeping your thighs touching, and extend your leg up to the ceiling. Lower your right leg—still straight—out to the right side as far as you can without moving your hips off the floor. Repeat with your other leg until your boyfriend/husband/roommate comes in and laughs at you, or 10-20 reps depending on your fitness level.

5. Lying Side Leg Raises

Like planks, but easier! Lie on your side with one arm flat on the floor in front of you, or propping up into a side plank for some additional ab work. Leave the other arm at your side, behind your head, whatever is easiest. Place one foot on top of the other with your legs out completely straight. Keeping them straight, raise your top leg until you like, can’t bring it up anymore, then bring it down. Do this 10-20 times on one leg, then switch to the other side until you feel like you’ve reached a new plane of consciousness via exhaustion.

Author:

Betchy Crocker

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A Mile in her shoes: Turn up your leg workout by wearing heels

Classes like Heel Hop, Stiletto Fitness and Stiletto Strength have been popping up at fitness centers across the country. Proponents like back up dancer and inventor of Heel Hop, Kamilah (she uses only one name), swear by the classes. Podiatrists, on the other hand, are sounding the alarm. Are high heel workouts the path to killer legs or are they killing your legs and feet? Here is what you need to know.

High heel workouts

Certified fitness instructor and back up dancer, Kamilah has developed a stiletto workout called Heel Hop. The workout is designed so that women can more comfortably wear high heels. Kamilah says her trademarked workout can also help you boost confidence, shed pounds and inches, and get a longer, leaner lower body. Other benefits include an aerobic workout, plus you get your sexy back.

Classes like Heel Hop and Stiletto Strength work the calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads. These are the muscles high heels engage. Strengthening them in class is thought to improve posture and balance.

Don’t worry if you’re new to Stiletto Fitness classes. Moves can be modified, and in most classes participants start with steps that are designed to build strength and confidence once you strap on the pumps. You can expect Pilates and barre like routines as well as some strutting, squats, lunges on your toes, and even a little dropping it like it’s hot. Classes last about 50 minutes and work up a sweat.

High heel exercise classes are popular because they are a fun and sexy way to get in shape. Even Dr. Oz has featured a segment on his show about workouts that have women ditching sneakers and donning heals. Still, some podiatrists are concerned.

Wear heels in moderation

Frequent wearing of high heels has been associated with increased risk of everything from falls to ingrown toenails, bunions, damage to leg tendons and osteoarthritis of the knees. Stiletto strength advocates insist their workout moves minimize these risks and offer cardiovascular benefits to boot. Again, doctors aren’t as convinced. If you choose the high heel workout route be sure to balance your routine with other activities that place your feet in a more natural position. If you are also wearing heels to work take them off periodically throughout the day. For example, drive and walk to your car or the train in flat shoes.

If hopping into high heels gets you off the couch and working up a sweat, go for it. Anything that boosts heart health and helps you build muscle can’t be all bad. Just be careful, go at your own pace and enjoy getting your sexy back.

Exercises for Women Who Wear High Heels

Open up almost any woman’s closet and you will find at least one pair of killer heels. Sure these leg-lengthening shoes make you feel and look sexy-but they’re also wreaking havoc on your body. You can thank your pumps for . . .

Aching Achilles

Wearing high heels on a daily basis can actually shorten your Achilles tendon, impacting your gait. It also overloads the calf muscle, causing it to work harder and increasing risk of injury. This kind of strain is particularly troubling if you run since the calf muscle and Achilles are susceptible to strain from overuse.

Not-So-Fun Bunions

A bunion is a lump located on the joint of your big toe. While heels do not necessarily cause bunions, they can exacerbate the condition.

Imperfect Posture

The constant forward push created by high heels causes misalignment with your spine and hips. Combine this with slouching at your desk all day, and you are headed straight to Back Pain City.

RELATED: Say goodbye to slouching-and back pain-with this quick perfect posture workout.

Fugly Feet

The taller your heel, the more pressure placed on the ball of your foot, which can cause hammertoes and blisters. Extra heel height also puts you at a greater risk of falling.

All of that said, chances are you’re still not going to give up your fashionable shoes, so I’ve compiled my top five tips to fight the negative consequences of tippy-toeing all day long and strengthen your ankles and legs to protect your body from further damage.

1. Gimme a T: Stand on a pillow with your right foot. Extend both arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Lean forward from your hips while simultaneously extending your left leg backward. (Your body should form a “T.”) Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeating on the other side.

2. Buy at night: Make shoe purchases in the evening when your feet are at their largest to avoid ending up wearing pinching, too-tight shoes (because I know you’ll still wear them despite the discomfort-they just look too amazing, right?).

3. Don’t be afraid of fat: A thicker-heeled shoe creates greater stability and balance and reduces the amount of stress placed on the ball of your foot.

4. Mix it up: Alternate wearing heels, flats, boots, and sneakers, rotating daily. Constant change makes your body have to adapt continually, helping to prevent overuse or strain of a muscle.

RELATED: If you just can’t say no to sky-high stilettos, try these better-for-you options ranging from peep-toes to boots.

5. Step up your game: Hang your heel off of the bottom step of a staircase to lengthen your muscles, improve circulation, increase blood flow, and alleviate stress on your Achilles. Gradually move up the stairs and fully extend one leg straight out in front of you, resting it on a step at hip height to open your hamstrings. (This helps reduce back pain, create balance within your hips, and open your gait.) Stand tall and extend your arms in front of your body. Point your fingers ahead and continuously reach them forward as if you were diving in to ease stress in the upper back.

  • By Jay Cardiello

Leg workout for power

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