Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you and how to do them correctly and safely.
Squat: Place the barbell on your upper back. Grab the barbell with a grip wider than your shoulder width. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width. Keep your head up and your back straight. Now bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not bend your upper back or lean forward. Once your thighs are parallel, push upwards into the standing position. This exercise can also be done holding dumbbells at your sides. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Strength training lunge: Place the barbell on your upper back. Stand tall and look straight ahead. With your right foot, step straight ahead little more than a normal stride. Bend your left knee until it almost touches the ground. Your right knee should also be bending and pointing straight ahead. Keep your trunk, head, and shoulders upright and pointed straight ahead. Push off with your right foot, return it next to your left foot, and return to the standing position with both feet next to each other. Now step forward with your left foot and repeat the lunge with your left leg. This exercise can also be done holding dumbbells at your sides. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Calf raise: Place a 2 x 4 piece of wood on the floor (you can also use one of the large round weight plates). Place the barbell on your upper back. Stand on top of the board with the heels and back half of your feet hanging off the back. Now rise up on the balls of your toes. Pause at the top for a count of two. Lower your feet back down. Let your heels go below the top of the board and pause for a count of two. This exercise can also be done holding dumbbells at your sides. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Leg curl: Lie face down on a weight bench with a leg attachment. Adjust the leg pads to rest above your ankles but below your calves. Select the appropriate weight in the weight stack. Curl your legs up towards your buttocks. Pause at the top for a count of one. In a controlled manner, lower the weight back until your legs are straight. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Leg extension: Sit down on a weight bench with a leg attachment. Adjust the leg pads so that they are at mid-shin level. This should be above the ankles, but below the knees. Select the appropriate weight in the weight stack. Straighten your legs, pushing the leg pads out and away. Once your legs are straight, pause for 1 second. Lower the weight in a controlled manner by bending your knees back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
The plank: Lie on your stomach resting on our forearms. With your legs straight, lift your hips off the floor until they are in line with your shoulders. Support yourself on your forearms and toes. Hold this position for 15 seconds. (If this is too difficult, you can modify it by placing your knees on the floor.) Repeat 3 times. Work up to increasing your hold time to 30 to 60 seconds.
Side plank: Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds and then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed toward your chest.
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Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-09 Last reviewed: 2014-01-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Strength Training: Lower Body Exercises: References
Earle RW, Baechle TR(eds.)Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2008.
Kisner, Carol, and Lynn Allen Colby, Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques, F. A. Davis Company; 65th ed, 2012.