Try the following lower body exercises to shake up your routine. As always, pay attention to maintaining proper posture and holding abdominal muscles in tight. Control each movement. Start with body weight only and progress to holding dumbbells.
Dynamic Side Squat. Begin by taking a step to your right side and forward 12 inches, arms extended shoulder-level, straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and hips and sit back into a squat. Push off with your right foot and return to the center. Repeat the same movement to the left side and forward 12 inches. Perform 12 repetitions alternating to each side.
Make it easier- perform as a stationary squat with your feet staggered 12 inches, eliminating the return to the center movement. (12 repetitions with the right foot forward, 12 repetitions with the left foot forward.)
Make it harder- perform a squat to the right side, bend forward from your waist and touch both hands to your right shoe. Push off with your right foot and return to center. Repeat side squat to the left side, with a forward toe-touch to the left.
Chair Stationary Lunge. Stand about 3 feet in front of a sturdy chair. Balancing on right foot, place top of left foot on seat behind you. Bending both knees, drop your back knee toward the floor. Push through your front heel and return to your starting position. Perform 12 repetitions with each leg.
Make it easier- only bend knees half-way down toward the floor.
Make it harder- lift your back foot up off the chair about one inch in between each repetition.
Cross-behind Lunge. Stand on your right leg. Step your left leg back about 2 feet, bend both knees and cross your left leg behind your right leg. Keep your weight on your right heel and pull your left leg up to center. Perform 12 repetitions with each leg.
Make it easier- Stand on your right leg, step your left leg back so it crosses behind your right leg. Keep your right foot flat on the floor and the ball of your left foot on the floor. Bend both knees and lower your body toward the floor. Straighten both knees to complete one repetition. 12 repetitions with each leg.
Make it harder- stand on your right leg, step your left leg back so it crosses behind your right leg. Stand up by pulling your left leg to center and then forward by bending your left knee and lifting it in front of your body to be hip level.
Lunges are an example of a compound exercise. A compound exercise is that which uses many different muscle groups at the same time. For challenging exercises to improve lower body muscle strength or endurance squats and lunges are a great choice. Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program, and enlist the assistance of a fitness professional to determine which form of squats and lunges are appropriate for you.
By Nicole Clancy