Lower body workouts are an absolute necessity if you want to develop a strong, balanced body. Many of the largest muscles in your body are located below your waistline, so if you want to increase your percentage of fat-burning muscle, you need to workout your lower half.
The Benefit of Doing Lower Body Workouts
Would you believe that working out your legs can also greatly benefit your upper body as well?? When working out the larger muscles in your lower body, increased testosterone and growth hormone is released in your body, which aids muscle growth not just in your legs, but all over your body. If your goal is to gain muscle, legs need to become a priority. Welcome to the world of squatting!
Breakdown Of Key Lower Body Muscle Groups
Your Gluteus Maximus is the biggest muscle in your body, but can also be an easy place for fat stores to find a home. Located right below your lower back, this muscle grouping is better known as a butt, bum or booty. It’s important to target your glutes at least once a week in your fitness routine, although many of your other lower body workouts will require the use of your glute muscles and by default will get challenged as well. Check out my Glute Workout page for more booty inspiration!
Your hamstring muscles are located at the back of your legs, between your butt and your knee. These muscles are responsible for many basic activities throughout your day, including walking, jumping and running. Your hamstrings actually work to slow down the extension of your knee by counteracting the quadricep. There are specific machines at the gym that will target your hamstrings, including the notorious leg curl machine. I myself would rather kill some heavy squats instead of sitting down at a machine, but each to his/her own.
Your quadricep muscles are located at the front of your legs, between your hips and your knees, and are made up of four separate muscles. These large muscles are also crucial for simple movements such as walking and running by playing a vital role in swinging your hip forward to complete your step. The leg press machine would definitely be the most popular machine at the gym to target your quads, but my favourite exercises to strengthen and tone my quads are basic weighted squats and lunges. A great lean, developed set of quads not only looks great and helps stabilize your trunk, but being that these are also large muscles, you can significantly increase your fat-burning capabilities in your body. Muscle burns fat throughout ones body, so why not toss some weight on your shoulders and squat your way to a strong, slim body!
Last but definitely not least, your calf muscle makes up the lower back portion of your leg. Because we are using our calf muscles all day long, and because they are a smaller muscle group than say your quads, calves can be difficult to train and see results. The key to building strength and definition in your calves is to lift heavy weight. This muscle needs to be pushed, beyond what occurs on a daily basis while carrying our body around, with a wide variety of exercises. A few easy calf-specific exercises would be calf extensions (on a leg press machine) and seated calf raises.
Check out my Treadmill Workout Video for some great ideas to add into your lower body workouts each week. All you need is a broken treadmill!