Top 5 Leg Exercises
Welcome to my blog about my 5 top leg exercises!
Leg exercises can be used to achieve a number of training goals from increasing muscle mass and athletic performance to losing unwanted body fat!
Leg exercises include the activation on a variety of muscle groups starting from the hips down to to the toes. This area contains three gluteal, three hamstring, four quadricep, and two calf muscles and this doesn’t even include the host of stabiliser muscles in the lower limb that will be activated during movements.
When it comes to training the lower limb I stay focused on functional movements so although popular in the gym leg extension and leg curls did not make my top 5 leg exercise list! The advantages of keeping leg exercises functional is it helps not only to improve your performance in training and activities of daily living but also reduced your risk of injury.
So here we go, my top 5 leg exercises are:
- The Squat
The squat is at the top of my list for a number of reasons. The squat movement pattern is one of the most common in activities of daily living. Think about it …. Every time you go from standing to sitting or sitting to standing you technically perform a squat. Therefore improving the strength in these muscle groups can not only help us tone up but also improve performance. The main muscles targeted during a squat include the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Another reason I like the squat is because it can be altered to suit the needs of individual by making it easier by reducing the depth of the squat or made harder by increasing the depth and adding weights.
The lunge exercise is also high up on my top 5 leg exercises for similar reasons of being a highly functional movement pattern. The lunge is a multi joint activity involving hip flexion to extension, knee flexion to extension and ankle dorsiflexion to plantar flexion. The main muscles activated in the lunge include the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calfs. The lunge exercise can be altered in a similar way to the squat by changing lunge depth and weight. The lunge exercise can be performed on the spot or in a more dynamic way with lunge walking.
The deadlift is a hip hinge movement pattern common in activities such as lifting bags off the floor. The deadlift is great for glute and hamstring activation during the hip flexion and extension movement. Although deadlifts are an excellent exercise for the lower legs it is commonly performed wrong causing unnecessary strain to the lower back muscles. Consult with your fierce fit trainer to achieve the perfect deadlift technique.
- Heel raise
The heel raise is a classic exercise which has been popular for years for building calf muscles! The heel raise movement is used in walking and ascending stair and therefore an important movement pattern to use in training. Focusing the calf muscles the heel raise movement involves ankle dorsiflexion to plantar flexion. The intensity of the heel raise exercise can be increased by increasing the range of movement at the ankle or adding weights.
Plyometric exercises are a more advanced type of leg exercise. Plyometrics, also known as jumping training are exercises with a focus on the stretch-reflex principle of muscle activation where a muscle is stretched to initiate a powerful and explosive muscular contraction. My favourite plyometric leg exercise is the box jump. The box jump starts with a squat movement pattern which leads into an explosive jump up onto a high box. Lower level plyometric exercises can be performed with no equipment such as star jumps and high jumps on the spot.