Three Lower Body Exercise Standards
While not an exhaustive list by any means, the following three lower body exercises are solid standards to include in almost all exercise programs. And, due to the fact that all three are performed standing, there is significant inclusion of the nose to toes core as well as the lower body musculature. These exercises should be performed two-three non-consecutive days/week, 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (unless lifting very heavy in which case fewer repetitions and more sets may be prescribed). As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Squats – Power Squat Rack with barbell – the barbell on most racks is approximately 45lbs.—position the bar on the rack so you are able to step up to the barbell and position it behind the head and correctly on the shoulders. Then, place the additional plates on the ends of the barbell as needed and place the clamps on each end. Now, step up to and under the barbell, lift it off the rack and then move away from the rack, but remain facing the rack. Legs should be approximately shoulder distance apart, shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing forward. Engaging the quadriceps (front of thighs), lower the body into a squat, no lower than 90 degrees of flexion at the knee joint, keeping the weight in the heels to mid-foot and keep the knees tracking over the shoelaces, never the toes. Then, drive back up into full hip/knee extension. When you have completed the set, move into the rack, and unload the barbell off the shoulders. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.
Lunges – Smith Machine – the bar typically weighs approximately 25lbs. Slip underneath the bar so that you are able to rest the bar comfortably behind the head and on the top of the shoulders and unrack it off the rack. Stagger the legs front to back so that you are able to keep the back heel elevated throughout the exercise and the front knee tracking over the front heel. The legs are staggered front to back and approximately shoulder distance apart (like you are standing on two different railroad tracks) right to left, lower the body down until the front and back leg are flexed approximately 90 degrees at the knee joint. Then, drive through the front heel returning to a fully erect standing position with both knees fully extended. *Lunges are a down/up exercise. There is absolutely no forward motion and the torso never drops down—the spine is always kept erect. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.
Straight Leg Dead Lifts – Hex Bar – typically the bar weighs 50lbs. You may add plates onto the bar secured with clamps. Keep in mind that if you only use the bar, you will have to hinge further down toward the floor. If this will be problematic for your lumbar spine, you may elevate the bar on a stable horizontal surface. Standing with feet approximately shoulder distance apart inside the Hex bar, hold onto the bar grips and hinge from the hips, keep the back flat, specifically the middle back, pressing the tailbone toward the wall behind you, knees relaxed, lift the bar off the lifting platform standing completely erect, then hinging from the hips, lower the bar down until you touch the platform and repeat. *Never arch the back going down or lifting! *Trains the glutes/hamstrings and nose to toes core.
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