Exercises For Legs Video by Turbulence Training
Important Points – please read before performing the following exercises:
* If you have knee injuries, weak ankles, hip or lower back problems check with your doctor before performing your leg exercises.
* Beginners, keep your weights very light or use no weights at all.
* Please follow your doctors or physio’s recommendations if they have advised you to wear strapping
Step Ups – Using a Bench or Step
Step Up hints…Use an 8 inch step if you are unfit / beginner then (once you’ve become accostomed to the exercise) progress onto a step that is no higher than 10 – 12 inches. For medium to advanced you can use a flat weight bench. Adjust the bench to a height that is comfortable for you, so that you can step up onto the bench without losing balance.
Exercise: Standing in front of your step or bench, start with your right foot stepping up onto the step or bench, bringing your left foot up behind you, making sure your feet are securely on the bench when reaching the top of the movement. Now lower your right foot down again, followed by your left foot. Repeat this for the required amount of reps. Then start with your left foot up first, followed by your right foot, then left foot down and right foot down. And once again repeat this for the required amount of reps.
* If you are training from home (and you don’t have an aerobics step or bench) you can use your back step e.g. on your verandah / porch etc. Note: the step must be secure and safe.
* When using a bench or aerobics step make sure it’s stable and the ground underneath it flat.
* When stepping up and down make sure you don’t stomp. Control the movement with softer steps so you don’t jar your back or leg joints.
* ALWAYS KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT, CHEST OUT AND MIDSECTION FIRM
Step Ups with Dumbbells
(You must be of a medium – advanced level fitness)
Using a bench, aerobics step or step at home, you can add dumbbells for extra resistance. Follow the same procedure as above but place a dumbbell in each hand, at arms length, with your palms facing inwards towards your outer thighs.
Standing in front of your step or bench, start with your right foot steping up onto the step or bench, bringing your left foot up behind you, making sure your feet are securely on the bench when reaching the top of the movement. Now lower your right foot down again, followed by your left foot. Repeat this for the required amount of reps. Then start with your left foot up first, followed by your right foot, then left foot down and right foot down. And once again repeat this for the required amount of reps.
Using weights while performing step ups increases the intensity and will “up” your heart rate. So don’t over do it when first progressing onto them.
Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift
If you have lower back problems do not perform this exercise unless you have permission from your doctor or physio to do so.
Beginners start with a very light weight until you can perform this exercise with correct form.
Stand with your feet slightly apart. With a dumbbell in each hand, bend over from your hips so that your dumbbells are in front of your shins with your palms facing your shins. Keep your body stable with you back straight, midsection firm, knees slightly bent. Squeeze your hamstrings and butt (glutes) to pull your body up to standing position. Continue to keep your back straight throughout the movement and your tummy tight. Your dumbbells should remain at arms length so at the top of the movement the dumbbells should be at the front of your thighs. Repeat exercise for required amount of reps.
Do not perform the following exercises (below) if you are a beginner to exercising, have knee problems or a medical condition that would be affected by high intensity exercise. These exercises are advanced!
Tuck Jumps (Knee-Tuck Jumps)
Standing with your legs shoulder width apart, keep your chest out and midsection firm, arms by your sides. Jump up bringing your knees towards your chest and your arms around your knees. Keep your back straight and your head looking foward. On the way down, keep your knees slightly bent to reduce the impact when you land and bring your arms back down to your sides. Repeat exercise to suit your program’s repetition requirements.
Explosive Jump Squats
Stand with your legs about shoulder width apart, keep your chest out and midsection firm.
Perform 3 normal squats (no weights) beforehand to prepare your muscles.
Perform a couple of practice jump squats… Lower yourself down into the normal squat position then jump up high. On the way down make sure your knees are bent so when you land you will be in the same position as the starting position.
Now perform a deep squat (without weights) just like you do a normal squat except that you lower your backside down lower than your knees, using your legs to raise you back up again – repeat this twice.
Now for the jump squat… Lower yourself down into low squat position again then jump up high. On the way down make sure your knees are bent so when you land you will be in the same position as the starting position. Keep the explosive squats continuous and flowing. Correct from is essential.
If you can only perform 2 x of these squats with correct form that is fine. As soon as your form drops off – stop! Your goal is to rest no longer than 3 minutes between each set. If your heart rate becomes too high or if you feel sick, ill or dizzy then stop performing this exercise. Performing reduced reps and quality reps is more effective than attempting too many and injuring yourself. Safety must come first.
Plyometric Continuious Step Jumps
You will need 3 aerobic steps adjusting them to the correct height for your body and fitness capability. (For example – 6 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch). When first starting out keep the height of the steps lower. As your jumping capabilities advance gradually increase the height.
Line the 3 boxes up spacing them out enough so that you can comfortably jump over one box and then straight over the next one and then the next one. You may need to do a couple of practice runs at this to get the spacing correct. The first step should be the highest step. Then second step should be medium height and the third should be the lowest.
Stand in front of the first step, with your chest out, knees soft, midsection firm. Jump up, bringing your knees up high, over the first step, land with your knees soft, then jump over the second step, landing with your knees soft then straight over again for the third step. The object of this is to keep the jumps continuous and flowing rather than stoping and starting between each jump which can jar your back and joints.
When you are first learning this exercise you may find it difficult to perform. However once you get the momentum going and have performed a few sessions you will find them very effective for your leg training and increasing your fitness level.
The starting position to this is similar to the starting position of push-ups. With your legs extended out behind you and your hands about shoulder width apart, fingers facing forwards, hold your body up off the floor. Keeping your midsection firm drive your left leg up underneath the left hand side of your body towards your chest, keeping the right leg in the same extended position behind you and slightly bent. Now swap legs bringing the right leg up underneath the right hand side of your body and keeping the left leg extended. Keep this movement continuous.
Control the movement of your legs. Driving them back and forth as fast as you can. As soon as your “technique” drops off then stop. Less reps with good form is better than more reps with sloppy technique.
Machine Leg Extensions – or Bench with Leg Extension Attached
Seated on the leg extension machine or bench, curl your feet underneath the bottom pad. Have the back of your knees over the top of the top pad or edge of the seat (depending on how the equipment is designed). These pads, normally, are adjustable. Keep your chest out and midsection firm. The bottom pad should be sitting on top of your ankle / bottom of shins. (no higher or lower) Keep your chest out and your midsection firm. Hold onto the handles or onto the underneath of the bench, where you are seated. Lift the weights by extending your legs out in front until your legs are straight, pause, then return to starting position controlling the movement throughout the exercise. Repeat to complete the required amount of reps for your set.
Machine Leg Curls – or Bench with Leg Curl Attached
Lie face down on the bench or leg curl machine with the pads resting on the back of your ankles. Hold onto the handles or onto the bench or framework to keep you stable. Have your knees slightly hanging over the edge of the bench or padding. Do not strain your neck keep your head forward and do not arch your back up. Curl your lower legs up towards your backside. Squeeze your glutes and your hamstrings slightly then slowly lower your legs down to starting position. Repeat exercise.
Machine Leg Press
Note to Beginners: don’t add any weight / resistance to the Leg Press until you get the movement correct. Once you have it conquered then gradually add a small amount of weight / resistance.
Sit in the Leg Press machine. Place your feet on the plate around shoulder width apart. Keep your knees in line with your ankles and feet. Have your toes facing the top of the plate. Keep your chest out and your midsection firm. There should be a lever either side of your seat which you will need to unlatch to lower the plate down. Keeping your feet stable lower the plate down towards your chest controlling it slowly down so that your legs are bent at a 90 degree angle. Your heels should not lift off the plate when lowering the plate down, if they do it means your feet are positioned too low on the plate. Your bottom should not raise off the seat. Push, don’t bounce, the plate back up to starting position ensuring you don’t lock your knees out. Repeat for required amount of reps. When you’ve completed your set return the latch to lock postion while your legs are extended (foot plate is in starting postition).
Note: Be very careful of your knees.You may also need to strap your knees if you suffer from knee problems. Do not overload your weights. If you are advanced and are using heavy resistance / weights make sure you have a spotter. The best way to try and prevent knee problems when using the Leg Press is:
Don’t lower the plate too low, only lower the plate down to where it feels comfortable on your knees.
Keep your weights at reasonable resistance – only increasing them gradually to allow your muscles and knees to adapt to the weight you are using.
Don’t bounce the plate at the top or bottom of the movement.
Don’t twist your knees or feet in any awkward positions.
Keep your feet higher on the plate, making sure your heels don’t raise off the plate.
Cool Stuff about the Leg Press:
The back pad supports your back.
If you find that free weight exericses such as barbells resting accross your neck are uncomfortable when performing barbell squats then the Leg Press is a great way to train your legs – and very effective.
Hack Squat Machine
Standing on the Hack Squat Machine place your feet on the plate, your shoulders underneath the shoulder pads and your head in between the two pads. Have your back secure against the back pad. Keep your chest out and your midsection firm. Position your feet so they are about shoulder width apart. Keep your knees in line with your ankles and feet. Have your toes facing the top of the plate and your feet slightly higher on the plate. (not too high)
With your feet planted firmly on the plate, unlatch the levers which should be up near your shoulders with one on each side of the machine. Lower your body down, bending your knees, until your thighs are parallel with the plate. Squeeze your glutes then slide yourself back up to starting position. Do not bounce at the top of or bottom of the movement. Don’t lock your knees out. Repeat exercise for required amount of reps. When you’ve completed your set return the levers to lock postion while your legs are extended (in standing postition).
Note: You may also need to strap your knees if you suffer from knee problems. Do not overload your weights. If you are advanced and are using heavy resistance / weights make sure you have a spotter. The best way to try and prevent knee problems when using the Hack Squat is:
Don’t lower yourself too low, only to where it feels comfortable on your knees.
Keep your weights at reasonable resistance – only increasing them gradually to allow your legs and knees to adapt to the weight you are using.
Don’t twist your knees or feet in any awkward positions.
Make sure your heels don’t raise off the plate when lowering yourself downwards.
Don’t have your feet so high on the plate that your lower back lifts off the back padding.
© Mandy Gibbons
Virtual Fitness Trainer