So you’re made working out a habit. You’ve bought the gear, you’ve found the programme you’re willing to stick with and you’re starting to see results. You feel better, you look better and you may be starting to even enjoy it.
So now you want more, right? You want to target your training to bring about specific results. Maybe it’s more definition in your arms. A flatter stomach or stronger core. Or maybe it’s your lower body. What do you do if all you want is #bootygains but no matter how many lunges you do your behind is a flat as a pancake?
Choose the right exercises
In a nutshell, the top three exercises to work your lower body are squats, lunges and deadlifts.
And there are variations on all of these exercises. For example you can opt for a back squat or front squat. A rear lunge or forward lunge. Or a deadlift or trap bar deadlift to name but a few. So play around. Practice the different techniques for each exercise and see which one suits you best.
Master these exercises using just your own body weight first and once you can comfortably complete with the proper form and technique, then you can progress onto adding barbells, dumbbells etc.
Add weights and progress
Once you’ve chosen the exercise you want and mastered the form you start adding weights. But remember, while you’re increasing the weights on any given exercise, then the repetitions reduce.
So, for example:
15 reps on body weight squat becomes 12 reps with a 20 kg barbell or 10 reps with 30 kg etc.
Remember, on all exercises make sure you are concentrating on correct form.
Look outside the gym
As I have mentioned previously, there’s no magic exercise which will improve body composition. It’s a combination of lifestyle factors and training.
So, for example, you can do all the squats you want but if you are living on a diet of sugary, crappy foods with poor sleep quality every night then you probably won’t see much of a difference. However, if your lifestyle factors outside of the gym are going well then these are the exercises that will help you literally get your ass into shape.
Consider your time
I would encourage you to focus two days of training on your lower body. You might focus on your squat and assorted variations one day and then your deadlift/lunge variations a different day. Squats and lunges are compound exercises, meaning they work more than one muscle group at a time as opposed to an isolation exercise, which works just a singular muscle group.
For example, in a squat the muscles working are quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and core. Whereas with something like a leg extension you’re just using your quadriceps muscle. Both types of exercises have a time and place in a training routine, however, for anyone who is time poor when it comes to fitting in a workout, then a compound exercise will give you more bang for your buck.
Three variations and progressions on each exercise are as follows
- Bodyweight squat
- Kettlebell squat
- Barbell squat
- Body weight lunge
- Dumbbell forward lunge
- Barbell rear lunge
- Glute bridge
- Trap bar deadlift
- Conventional deadlift
Here’s a short and sharp sample lower body workout for you to try. If you are currently doing zero training at the moment then you fall into beginner category; if you are training between 1-3 times per week you fall into intermediate and any more than three training sessions in a week you fall into advanced. Give this a go twice this week and see how you get on. Try not to perform the session two days in a row, give yourself a bit of rest in between and see how you get on with that.
Beginner: Bodyweight squats x 15-20 reps
Intermediate: Kettlebell squat x 12 – 15 reps
Advanced: Barbell squat x 8-12 reps
Rest 30-60 secs after 1 set & repeat 6 times
Beginner: Bodyweight lunge x 15-20 reps
Intermediate: Dumbbell lunge 12-15 reps
Advanced: Barbell lunge 8-12 reps
*Then straight into
Glute bridge x 12-15 reps
Rest for 30-45 secs after glute bridge X 6 times
Walking lunge x walk for 30 seconds rest for 30 secs and repeat X 6 sets
(for intermediates or advanced you can add in some weights for these)
Dublin Fit Club is run by Brian Cash and Patrick Jennings, who together have over 30 years experience in the sports and fitness industry. They specialise in all aspects of conditioning and are experts in weight management, strength and conditioning, improving fitness levels and nutritional advice. For more information visit dublinfitclub.ie