Leg strength is the foundation of a strong body and makes doing the activities of everyday living easier. Your legs are involved in every step you take, whether it’s on the golf course, the tennis court, or shopping at the grocery store. Building and maintaining your leg muscles becomes even more important the older you get because they stabilize your knee and hip joints, and reduce the likelihood of developing pain and weakness in these areas.
Here are three of my favorite exercises to strengthen and build your legs. Do these exercises one or two times each week and see how stronger you feel in about three months.
Exercise # 1 – Leg Press
The leg press is one of the best exercises for overall strength and development of your legs. First, sit in the seat, positioning your feet about shoulder width apart and chest high on the platform. Adjust the seat height by pulling the handle and sliding forward until your thighs are parallel to the platform. This is your start position (make sure that your lower back is pressed firmly against the back of the seat). With your feet flat, slowly press upward until your legs are fully extended but short of locking. Slowly return to the position where the weight almost touch the weight stack. The breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale as you press up and inhale as you return to the start.
Exercise # 2 – Smith Machine Squats
A properly executed squat is one of the best exercises you can do for overall strength and conditioning. Using the Smith Machine is a big aid in helping you perform squats correctly. First, place the bar a little lower than shoulder height. Next, position yourself under the bar, twist to unlock it and place the bar on top of your shoulders. Now, place your feet in front of you about six inches, shoulder width apart. This is your start position. Lift your chest, and keep your chin high. Now, squat by leading with your butt until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then return to the start position. Be careful not to round your lower back and that your knees do not extend over your toes anytime doing this exercise. (For the first few times, it’s best to have someone observe you from the side to make sure you are doing this exercise correctly). Your breathing pattern is to inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up on this exercise.
Exercise # 3 – Step ups
Step ups are great for developing and strengthening the muscles of your butt. With this exercise, you will do 10 repetitions on one leg followed by 10 repetitions on the other. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position yourself in front of a bench. Place one foot flat on top of the bench, positioning you body to make a right angle at your knee. With your chest held high and shoulders square, step up through your heel and lightly tap the bench with your other foot before returning to the starting position. Breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale as you step up and inhale as you step back down.