herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

Why it's a mistake to forget about working out the legs

EXERCISE

Woman squatting lifting kettlebells
Woman squatting lifting kettlebells

As it is summer, everyone who is gearing up for a beach holiday wants the perfect beach body.

I was in the gym the other day and I sat back and watched three guys solely focus on building their bicep muscles. Ok, it might have been arm work-out day, but to be honest, these guys look more like an upside down triangle.

It got me thinking about the practicalities of going to the gym for people who may not have a program to work off or access to the guidance of a qualified trainer.

The easiest thing to do is lift a few dumbbells and do some bicep curls. You will build your arm muscles but what about the rest of your body - and an area that is often left out is your legs.

The lower body is often forgotten about because people are unsure about what to do and how to go about it. Often the exercises can burn and hurt and leave your muscles sore the next day when trying to walk up stairs and, as a result, its put many off attempting them.

However, if you want to have lean and toned legs for aesthetic reasons or perhaps you want to help reduce injuries on the field of play, or you are keen to improve your overall body composition, training for the lower body is vitally important.

There are a few ways of building this into your training routine.

You can either build leg exercises into your resistance training or alternate your sessions - one day focus on lower body, next day focus on upper body.

Focus on the lower body leg muscles such as calves, hamstrings, thighs and glutes, and build in exercises to help build and tone.

Depending on your level, start with body weight and then build by adding in weight by using dumb bells, gym bars or weighted bars.

Aim for four sets of 10 reps and work in circuit fashion. Not only will these movements improve your leg strength and promote definition, but also work your core muscles.

Exercises worth adding include: squats, lunge, step up on box, heel raises - straight leg and bent knee, squat jumps, box jumps, glute raises, glute bridge and hamstring curl.

Remember, you don't have go to the gym to do these workouts - using body weight, you can literally do these anywhere. Make sure to challenge yourself by adding in more repetitions or sets, or even reduce the recovery time between the exercises.

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