Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Best leg exercises Part One

Squats are by far and away the most productive exercise not just for your legs but for the whole body.  Men will gain loads of muscle on the legs, back, chest, and arms by doing squats.  Women will get the best legs, buns, and thighs you've ever seen by doing them.  If aliens came down and ruled the earth and only allowed us to do one exercise, squats would be the one you'll want to do.  

Look for the squat rack as shown below, your gym will have a this exact one or a variation.  Choose a weight that you can do 2 sets of 20 reps at a smooth controlled pace with perfect form.  Begin the movement with the bar on your upper back, feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.  Squat down slowly until your upper leg is parallel to the ground, then smoothly push through the center of the foot returning to the start position, repeat. Squats are a great indicator of flexibility, if you start to see your toes point out as you squat down, limit your range of motion until you can squat all the way down without your toes moving outwards.  Use lighter weights to start in order to learn the right form and pretty soon you'll be squating heavier weights with perfect form before you know it!
Squat Rack
Leg Presses are a nice alternative to squats if you have an injury or may not have the flexibility to do squats properly.  There's usually 2 types of leg press machines, selectorized or plate loaded.   Your gym will absolutely have one or both of the machines pictured and either works pretty much the same.  The key is your feet placement on the platform which can be high, low, or in the middle depending on the muscle groups you want to emphasize or de-emphasize.  If your feet are high on the platform it will put more stress on your hips.  Feet low will put more stress on the muscles around your knees.  Feet in the middle will be a balanced stress between the knees and hips.  Putting stress more hips or knees can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what issues you have and areas you're trying to work.  Pick a weight you can do for 2 sets or 20 reps.  The tempo of your reps should be 2 seconds to press the weight and 4 seconds to lower the weight.

Plate loaded leg press machine
Selectorized Leg Press