Looking for an exercise to help tone your glutes and abductor muscles? Try Lying Side Leg Raises on a mat. These are great for beginners. The intensity can also be increased, for intermediate exercisers, by adding ankle weights to the movement.
Lie on your side forming a straight line upwards from your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears.
Then, move your legs very slightly in front of you, so that you are in a minor curved shape. This curve will help with balance throughout the exercise, and it also protects the lower back.
You can prop your head up on your hand, or stretch the bottom arm out long and lay your head down. If you choose to prop your head up, you must support your alignment by lifting your rib cage slightly, away from the mat.
Make sure that your abdominals are activated and pulled in. Using the abs for strength and stability is key during this exercise.
From this position, lift your leg upwards, leading with your heel. Make sure to stop when your leg is at a 45 degree angle at your hips. Slowly lower your leg, hovering closely to the leg on the mat but not touching. Lift the leg again. Do this for 20 reps.
Then turn over to the other side and repeat with the other leg.
Note: It is important that you prevent your body from rocking while doing this exercise. Keeping your abdominals tight will prevent this from occurring.
Increase the challenge by pausing at the top of your lift for 2-5 secs.
Another excellent exercise for the quads, hamstring and glutes is the Walking Lunge. Done correctly, it can help firm and tone the muscles of your lower body.
Stand with your feet together, hands on hips (or with weights in hand and hanging at your sides). Contracting your abs, step forward with your right foot, bending at the knee and lowering your left leg to the floor. Your right thigh should almost parallel to the floor. Make sure that both knees are at a 90 degree angle and your right foot is not too far forward (it should be over your ankle in order to keep the 90 degree angle). Bring your left foot in so your feet are together and repeat on the other side (stepping forward now with your left foot). Continue like this for 15 – 20 reps, if you run out of space turn around and carry on.
Remember, you do have the option to start off without weights but be sure to gradually progresses to more challenging weights as you grow. Also, it is important to keep the angles of the knees at 90 degrees. Stepping to far will cause you to stretch you hip flexor muscles to much. You need to concentrate on good form throughout this exercise. The pictures below show the right and wrong way to do walking lunges.
Another exercise to help strengthen you back muscles, believe it or not, is the wall squat. The isometric contraction in your back used to keep your body against the wall aids in promoting back strength.
Stand with your back against a wall, heels about 18 inches from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abs. Slide slowly down the wall into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. If this is too difficult, bend knees to 45 degrees and gradually build up from there. Count to ten slowly and slide back up the wall. Repeat 5 - 10 times. If counting proves to be unreliable (which it eventually will), use a stopwatch to time the length of your wall squats.
Not only does your back benefit from this exercise but you will start to feel it working in your quads and hips as well. You may feel it more so in your quads when you start holding the wall squat for longer periods but don't worry.. that's normal. Keep at it and challenge yourself gradually.
One of the easiest ways to work the leg muscles is by doing squats. Squats are excellent if you goal is to lose weight and tighten your thigh muscles. However, you must remember the important rules of squatting.
For proper execution of a squat, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and with your toes pointing slightly outward or in a natural anatomical position. Squat down, bending the knees and pushing the bum back as if preparing to sit in a chair. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your knees should be in line with your toes ensuring that all the weight is through your heels and not your toes. Keeping your head up, abs tight and lower back slightly arched, drive the weight up with your legs until you are in a standing position. Remember to keep you knees soft and not locked at the top. Once you are standing straight up, squat back down over the same path.
You should feel your Quadriceps (thigh muscles) working the most with the Hamstrings and Calves mildly working during this exercise. You can also work your glutes as you squeeze them whilst in the standing position. You should be able to complete fifteen to twenty reps without weights in hand. As you progress you can add dumbbells in hand to make this exercise more challenging.
Tips: Always maintain proper form throughout this exercise by keeping your head up, abs tight and lower back arched. Squats are a big power movement and you must execute them with full concentration in order to prevent injuries. Do not use jerky motions or body momentum.
In this section, you will find a collection of various exercises as well as tips and information on proper form.