Doing strength exercises to complement your cardio routine (e.g. your runs) is essential for achieving a fit and toned body. However, sometimes there is just no time to go all the way to the gym, or there might not even be one nearby, making it rather challenging to stick to a workout routine.
With this series of blog posts introducing the most important exercises that can be done at home, we hope we can help you get your workouts in and get closer to your goals even if you cannot hit the gym. All the exercises introduced in these posts can be completed using bodyweight only –but you can simply increase the intensity any time by using free weights, in case you have some dumbbells or plates at home. Try doing three sets of 12-15 repetitions of each exercise first and add some weight if you feel it is too easy for you.
One of the most effective exercises for legs are definitely squats. They train your quads, hamstrings and glutes – and with alternating your stance or using different equipments such as barbells, dumbbells, plates and so on, there is an endless variation for their execution.
You start the standard squats with your feet about shoulder width apart. Your feet should be rotated 45° outwards to avoid knee injury. Make sure your knees stay pointing outwards during the exercise as you lower your body into the squat for the same reason, and for the sake of stability. Always keep your core tight and pay attention to keeping your back straight!
An example for a good squat variation is the sumo squat that you can see below. In this case, your stance is wider and your feet are pointing even further outwards. Go until parellel or lower to activate your glutes. This variation puts more focus on training the inner side of your thighs.
Doing lunges not only trains your legs but improves your balance and works all those little muscles that contribute to that. Start from standing straight then take a step forward with one leg, lowering your body as you step forward. But always pay attention to that your knees should never go over your ankles to protect them from getting injured – and don’t forget to keep your back straight the whole time.
Just like squats, there are many variations to lunges as well. You can do lunges stepping forward and then standing right back up – or you can keep walking doing one lunge after another. Doing side lunges is also a great idea – take one step to the right, stand back up and then repeat it towards the left side as well. As previously, make sure your knees don’t go in front of your ankles and keep your back straight!
SINGLE LEG DEADLIFTS
Single leg deadlift is another great example for unstable exercises that help train those little muscles that are important for your balance and overall physique but cannot be trained so well by regular exercises. Start this exercise from a standing position and placing your weight on one leg slowly start raising the other, while leaning forward with your upper body until it’s parellel to the ground. Once you’re there, hold the position for five seconds, making sure your leg is still up high the whole time, then slowly get back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. If you don’t feel confident in your balance, start by holding onto something first, leaning forward just a little bit and work your way to the perfect form over time.
For the starting position, lie down on the floor, with your arms next to your body straight, and your legs pulled up. Then pushing from your heels, raise your hips and flexs your glutes. Hold the position for five seconds, then slowly lower (not drop!) your butt back to the floor. Make sure the weight is on your heels and that you really do flex and engage your glutes!
As always, there are many ways to increase the intensity of this exercise. After doing 20 reps, try to hold the last one for 30 seconds and more – if you squeeze your butt hard, you will definitely feel it burn! If you have some weights on hand, either dumbbells, a plate or basically anything heavy, try lying it on your hips while you do the exercise for some extra resistance!
Another way is to try the single leg version of the glute bridges. Do 10 repetitions with your right leg extended and then another 10 with the left one in the air. And again, hold the last rep a little longer, squeezing your buttom, pushing through your heel.
Last but not least: leg raises. A great way to lift and tone your butt without using any equipment. Get down on your knees and hands as you can see on the picture below, with one leg extended behind you. Then raise your leg up high, keeping it straight, engaging your glutes and slowly lower it back down. If you have ankle weights, put them on for adding extra resistance and thus increasing intensity.
A slightly different version of the leg raises is the donkey kick. For this exercise, keep your knees bent and raise your legs this way, pushing up towards the sky with your heels, then slowly return to the starting position. Again, ankle weights can make it more advanced or you can even try to squeeze a dumbbell behind your knees.
Hope we could give your some ideas and inspiration for a leg workout at home! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask – and if you take any pictures during or after this workout, don’t forget to tag us (#eaternalwellness or #probartaiwan) so we can see you completed the workout too!