No one likes leg day at the gym. For many reasons, however, you should be focusing on working your leg muscles while you’re working out.
A strong lower body can help to prevent injury and manage chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Stronger legs can make your cardio workouts easier to complete, as well. Toned leg muscles keep your body balanced, so don’t forget to consistently work on your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Once you appreciate that your legs contain your largest and most important muscles, you can start incorporating fun-to-do exercises that will result in big-time benefits to your overall health.
Here are some of the greatest benefits of leg workouts, according to a recent report by Healthline.
• Build muscle.
• Tone and sculpt legs.
• Strengthen core muscles.
• Burn calories and promote weight loss.
• Improve overall fitness.
• Reduce joint pain.
• Strengthen bones.
• Engage major muscle groups.
• Alleviate lower back pain.
• Boost cognitive function.
• Create an aligned, balanced and symmetrical body.
• Improve mobility, stability and range of motion.
• Manage stress.
• Improve posture.
Read on for a couple of the most effective leg exercises and remember to always practice safety in the weight room or at home.
One of the best leg exercises you can do is the squat. When performing a squat, try to squat straight up and down to focus the most on using your quadriceps to get maximum results. You can do squats with a barbell, dumbbells or just your body weight. Start at a lower weight until you have the form down, and then move up to get more results. Once you master the squat, try jumping squats. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lower into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, jump up as high as you can and try to land softly to avoid injury. Repeat this for at least 12 reps and do at least three sets, taking a 30-second break between sets.
The leg press is highly effective in working your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Make it a staple of your weekly workout to see big results in your lower body. Find the press machine at your local gym and start by setting the weight low. Sit down and press your feet squarely on the footplate, making sure your lower back stays pressed against the bench pad. Release the safety and bend your knees to lower the platform. In a steady motion, push the platform back up to the top without locking your knees. Repeat for 12 reps and three sets, taking breaks if needed.
Always remember to exercise caution when you are working out. Without proper form, you can risk injury and may not be getting the most out of your workouts. Seek out a local personal trainer who can help you put together a structured, safe workout plan.