Strengthening Your Lower Body
Hate squats? Mobility issues? Knee problems? Don’t shudder at the thought of doing them as part of your regime of lower body exercises. While squats are considered the king of lower body exercises, and compound lifts in general are far more effective, there are a ton of other movements that can build the same muscles and offer many of the same benefits for those who just can’t do them for one reason or another.
Good Morning, Glutes
The good morning exercise works your gluteus maximus muscles when you bend forward at the waist. This can be done with barbells, dumb bells, or nothing. This exercise works your posterior chain, which includes your glutes, hamstrings, and parts of your spine. Your lower abdomen will get a workout with this one, too.
Good mornings are a favorite for all levels of athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and gym goers in part because of how versatile they are. You can add different types and levels of resistance as you want or need.
Kick to Strengthen Your Lower Body
Kicking is another way to build lower body strength.
Think kickboxing without the boxing. Hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips are the primary areas that you will work on when you kick.
Another form or kicking is the donkey kick where you alternate kicking up and backwards from a hands and knees position. You will feel this in your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Cross and kick is done lying on your back and kicking your legs alternately out and from side to side. This exercise focuses largely on strengthening your lower abdominal muscles, lower back, and quadriceps.
Lunges Are One Way to a Strong Lower Body
Fencing as part of your lower body regimen will have you incorporating lunges without even thinking about it. You don’t need the fencing garb, though, to imagine yourself swashbuckling across the gym floor. Lunges take many forms with and without barbells or bands. You don’t need much room because you can do them in place or walking.
Another exercise for lower body strengthening is the bridge. Called the glute bridge for a reason, you will likely feel it mainly throughout your gluteus maximus. The glute bridge can be done with a barbell for a tougher workout, holding barbells, or just lying on a mat.
The bridge is commonly confused with the hip thrust. The main difference is that you lie on the floor to do the glute bridge and lean on a bench for the hip thrust.
Why Squats Might Not Be for You and Why You Don’t Need to Fret
Aside from not liking to work your lower body any more than necessary, there are health reasons you might not want to include squats in your lower body regimen. Issues with your knees and/or back can be exacerbated by doing squats to the point of debilitation. Better to refrain and focus on lower body strengthening by kicking, lunging, or other strengthening exercises that you will probably find to be more comfortable and adjustable depending on your physical limitations.
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