If there is one part of your body you should focus on to strengthen, it’s your legs.
They hold you up!
Ninety percent of fitness activities depend on your legs getting you around. So the stronger they are, the better you move.
In contrast, when your legs are weaker, you’re more likely to feel fatigue faster. Even if your lungs can go further, your legs may call it quits.
And finally, leg exercises are the best way to prevent injuries. When active people get benched by an injury, it’s often problems related to their knees, hips, and ankles. By strengthening your legs, you can prevent this from happening. This means you can workout consistently and not lose your momentum.
So here they are, some of my favorite leg workouts:
· Squats. Just make sure your knees never go beyond a right angle from your ankles when you squat. If you need a little extra help, hold onto a chair back or the wall for support as you slowly bend your knees and then straighten them.
You can beef up your squat workout when you
o Wear a weight vest
o Do one legged squats (rest your other leg on a couch or chair behind you, bent at the knee)
o Use free weights. Make sure you have a spotter if you have a heavy load.
· Jumps. Jumps give your legs extra power. Start off with simple jumps from a squat. I like to start with one foot in front and my hands on my hips and then alternating legs with each jump. However, you can also increase your jumping workout by jumping up to a bench and then off of it back into a squat. We’ve worked up to jumping onto a picnic table and down. But watch your shins, make sure you’re ready for this.
You can also give your calves and ankles a nice toning by jumping rope. I usually do 2 sets of 200 jumps with the jumprope each day and it’s a great way to prepare your Achilles and the rest of your foot and calf for running around the yard.
· Leg Extensions. A nice weight machine is great for this knee strengthening exercise. But even without one, you can sit on a chair with ankle weights and slowly raise one foot up to an extended position and then lower it back down.
· Calf Raises. Maybe because they’re so far down our legs, we shortshrift this important muscle. But strengthening it is key for preventing ankle injuries, shin splints, problems with your Achilles as well.
The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere. In fact I’m doing a few as I type this article. All you have to do is go up on your toes and lower yourself back down. Vary the position of your feet – try it with your feet wide apart and just shoulder width apart. Try it with your feet facing forward, and slightly turned out.
Use these exercises and you’ll find that not only do your legs get stronger (and more shapely) but your whole fitness experience will improve.