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Increasing Leg Strength Through 10 Basic Exercise Techniques

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Increasing Leg Strength Through 10 Basic Exercise Techniques

When you think of exercise, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many people start with cardiovascular, or aerobic, training -- which is an essential element of any fitness routine, but it is not the sole component. Focusing on strength training for the different muscle groups in your body improves stability, flexibility, power, posture and balance. Strength training workouts won’t only improve your overall fitness, they are also important for injury prevention.  

The human leg is comprised of six groups of leg muscles (not including the glutes). We can’t sit all day and expect to have strong legs. Cooper Fitness Center Dallas Professional Fitness Trainer Shannon Edwards shares 10 strengthening workouts for your legs.

  1. Hip flexor stretch: Most people have tight hip flexors. Stretch and loosen these muscles with a kneeling hip flexor stretch. Lunge forward with one foot, bending the forward knee 90 degrees and lowering the back knee to the floor. Tilt your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone underneath you until you fill a stretch in the front of the hip. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
  2. Inch walk (or hand walk): Do this exercise to improve flexibility in the entire posterior chain of muscles from the low back to the ankles. With your feet on the ground, lean forward and place your hands flat on the ground in front of your toes (bending your knees as needed). Slowly walk your hands forward, away from your body, shifting your weight onto your hands. Then walk your hands back toward your feet.
  3. Glute bridge: Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms out to the side of your body at shoulder level, palms facing up. Raise your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Activate your core muscles and slowly pull your right knee in toward your chest. Repeat with your left leg.
  4. Side walk with resistance band: Place a light resistance band around mid-shin while standing. Take 20 side steps one direction and 20 side steps the other direction to strengthen the glute medius.
  5. Step up: Using a step or box, simply step up with one leg and back down, alternating legs.
  6. Goblet squat: Hold a weight plate, dumbbell, kettlebell or another weighted object against your chest with both hands and lower yourself into the squat position. Return to standing position. Be sure to keep your weight on your heels for the duration of the squat to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
  7. Hip hinge: Holding a kettlebell between your legs in the standing position, thrust your hips forward, swinging the kettleball forward. An alternative hip hinge exercise can be executed with a stability ball. Lie on your back with your feet on the ball. Lift your hips and pull your feet underneath you. Return to starting position and repeat.
  8. Curtsey lunge: Standing with both feet shoulder width apart, take your left foot and take a big step behind and across your right leg. Bend your knees, lowering your body until your front thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Your torso should be upright and square. Return to standing position and repeat on the opposite leg.
  9. Sled push: With a pushing sled loaded with desired weight, lean onto the sled with arms fully extended, pushing the sled as fast as possible. If you don’t have access to a push sled, lunge up a hill.
  10. Running man (mountain climbers): Get into the upper pushup position, with your toes on the floor and your arms straight, keeping your hands on the floor, pull one foot forward, alternating legs, as if you are running. Watch a video demonstration of this move.

Things to Remember
When it comes to strength training, you have to lift more than your body weight. The biggest mistake people make avoiding adding weight because they don’t want to get bulky. Using weights two to three times a week won’t make you bigger, but it will make you stronger. Before doing any strength exercises with weight take a short, brisk walk or a light jog.

When doing squats, you should be able to do 10 reps, but you shouldn’t be able to do 15. If you can do 15 reps, add weight to make it more difficult.

Finally, don’t try to do all of these leg exercises in one day. Instead, pick two strength exercises to do each day. If you’re doing the exercises correctly, your legs will be tired.

Get Cooperized with these exercises to make your legs stronger and more stable for other activities, such as running, helping to reduce your risk of injury.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center, click here or call 972.233.4832.

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