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Body Weight Exercises for Legs

Body Weight Exercises for Legs: Significance

Let’s move on to your lower body, specifically, to exercises for legs. We will cover body weight exercises for the hips, buttocks and core separately. Alternate upper– and lower-body moves to minimize rest periods, keep your heart rate elevated throughout your workout and save time. Engaging in resistance training and doing body weight exercises for legs regularly makes performing activities of daily living easier. General recommendations call for choosing effective exercises in a meaningful sequence (work largest muscles first). Working toward developing balanced strength amongst major leg muscles (quads and hamstrings, for example) may protect you from common injuries, such as pulled muscles.

There are dozens of effective body weight exercises for legs, for maximum efficiency, choose compound moves or those that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Best results come from working out smarter, not necessarily longer.

Body Weight Exercises for Legs: Specifics

You don’t need exercise equipment to get an effective, tough workout, even if you are already in great shape. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), squats, step-ups/downs, split squats/lunges and hamstring curls (standing or on all fours) are among the most effective body weight exercises for legs, in fact, for your whole lower body. First…squats. Start with a basic squat and build from there. Deep squats, self-assisted squats, one-legged squats, walking lunges and squats – the variations are virtually endless.

Always challenge yourself and vary your exercise choices. Advanced exercisers may progress to plyometrics, power exercises that involve explosive but controlled jumping movements. Golden rule for standing leg work: Never extend your knees beyond your toes, keep your weight mainly over your heels.

Don’t neglect your calves when performing exercises for legs. Best choice: calf raises (2-legged or 1-legged, balancing or assisted). Remember, if you are relying on body weight alone (for resistance), you must concentrate on really contracting the target muscle, imagining you are trying to move against resistance, such as water.

Exercises for Legs: Last Words…

Warnings: avoid over-training and using inconsistent, poor form. Always stop if you are experiencing unusual or sharp pain. Do not rely on exercise ‘lists.’ Watch them performed by a professional on or YouTube to read descriptions and view proper form through the full range of motion (video). Do step-ups on a box of an appropriate and realistic height. Step-up from behind a box/bench or from the side. Always push through the heel of your working leg to lift your body upwards while contracting your butt. Last word: don’t forget to do a warm-up and post-workout stretch!

Body Weight Exercises for Back

Body Weight Exercises for Back: Significance

Your back takes a beating every day – and deserves your care and attention. A strong back is a healthy back. Aesthetics aside, there are many small back muscles that support your spine and those that play a role in proper posture. You can work those at the same time as you are training the larger muscles with body weight exercises and/or isolate them with specific exercises that also involve your core, such as bird-dogs.

While there are dozens of effective body weight exercises to work your upper, mid and lower back muscles, you don’t want to spend your whole workout concentrating on one area of the body. Workout smarter and harder, not necessarily longer, for best results.

Body Weight Exercises for Back: Specifics

Bodmodified supermany weight exercises give you opportunity to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Work your upper back by squeezing your shoulder blades together during slow incline push ups, or the muscles that line your spine by doing alternating leg raises while performing a plank. Or alternate a standard plank with a superman.

For the following body weight exercises, you’ll need access to a bar, railing or even the jungle-gym at your local park. Be creative. Today’s jungle-gyms have platforms of varying heights, for more flexibility with your exercise choices. Performing a standard pull up (all variations) is an excellent exercise, but very difficult for most women that at first (without assistance and/or a partner). What do you do if you are working out alone or do not have a band to off-set some of your body weight? Try a self-assisted pull-up or a body row (technically an inverted row) instead. The emphasis is on your posterior deltoids and latissimus dorsi (upper back). The greater the incliStretch carefully after doing body weight back exercisesne or the less assistance you allow yourself, the harder the body weight exercises will be.

Body weight exercises: introduction

Body weight exercises use your own weight as resistance instead of equipment that provides ‘external’ resistance, such as dumbbells. However, you can always add resistance to make these moves more challenging. In general, body weight exercises are effective, fun, require little to no fancy exercise equipment and can be tweaked to challenge beginner to advanced exercisers. You probably already are familiar with many classic body weight moves already: military-style push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, forward and backward lunges, squats, step ups and the like. However, there are endless variations to these standard exercises – probably more options than you can imagine.

Choosing Body Weight Exercises

What do you need to know, or keep in mind when choosing which body weight exercises to include in your strength training routine? Consider ‘compound’ exercises, or those that work multiple muscle groups versus those that isolate specific muscles, unless you have a lot of time to devote to exercise. Choose moves that work all major muscle groups, if possible (eight to twelve exercises).

Select moves that aid in stabilization (balance), strength (building muscle) and power (explosive movements such as jumps) for the ultimate challenge. Keep in mind that ‘power’ moves may be too advanced for novice exercisers. There are body weight exercises that are double-duty moves: they improve your balance AND enhance strength. Summertime is a great season to shake up your routine. Many body weight exercises for the upper, lower body and core can be done outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the weather and watch your kids while building a stronger body. If you have access to a playground, all the better. You need a platform, rack or bar to ‘pull’ towards and ‘push’ from. This is just an introduction to this series. In subsequent articles, you’ll learn unconventional, effective body weight exercises to add to your ‘library’ for different muscle groups.

NOTE: before initiating any exercise routine (especially on your own), get clearance from your doctor. This is a general, informational series. All exercises are NOT appropriate for all individuals. If you have back problems/knee pain or injuries, you should seek personal, professional advice on designing an appropriate routine with your specific needs in mind!