6 Best Leg Exercises For Women
6 Best Leg Exercises For Women
A healthy lifestyle is about feeling fit, strong and energised. With the Sweat 12 Week Challenge now in progress, we want to help you transform your health and fitness over the next 12 weeks!
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to maintain mobility, range of motion and strength in your lower body (that is, your legs, glutes and hips), in order to be able to get about your day with ease and help you feel your best.
This is why it’s important to try and regularly do leg exercises and other lower body exercises that address ALL muscles in this region. Your body’s muscles are interdependent on one another. If one area is isolated and regularly focused on (for example, consistently doing the same leg exercises every time you workout), it may cause a muscular imbalance if the opposing muscle isn't being exercised and strengthened too. This can potentially lead to soreness or injury in the long-term.
While all of Sweat’s programs have been scientifically created to work all of your muscle areas, we recognise that education is the first step to success. We want to help you understand WHY you should use lower body and leg exercises to strengthen the different areas of your lower body, as well as how you can add a little more intensity to the exercises that you’re currently doing.
Follow our tips below and incorporate some of the suggested lower body and leg exercises into your workout schedule.
Lower body exercises for women
Here are some of the best lower body and leg exercises you can do, as well as some tips on why focusing on these areas is so important!
1. Activate your glutes
Glute activation should be a focus for anyone who is doing a lower body workout or leg exercises — which is why it’s the number one point!
Before any lower body workout, it’s really important to activate your glutes (your gluteal muscles, also known as your butt muscles). Think about glute activation as a warm-up for your glute muscles. Like any warm-up, it helps you to make the most of your workout.
Why? Glute activation refers to ‘firing up’ these glute muscles, or ‘waking them up’. By activating them through specific exercises, you are learning to isolate this muscle area, which in turn makes it stronger.
This can then help you to optimise your performance by learning to recruit your glute muscles which will assist in getting the most out of your lower body leg exercises, as well as help in the prevention of injury.
2. Focus on your hamstrings
While glute activation seems to be a commonly referred to focus area for many women when it comes to doing lower body exercises, sometimes hamstring exercises are underrated. Actively working on your hamstrings when you do leg exercises is just as important as working any other body area, especially if a goal of yours is to develop your overall lower body strength and lean muscle.
Your hamstrings are a group of muscles located at the back of your thigh, which contribute to your functional movement. If your hamstrings are strong, it can help you to run faster, jump higher and complete more explosive lower body movements.
If you are naturally more quad-dominant or tend to work the quad muscles more than other areas, it’s important to ensure that you focus on strengthening your hamstrings, in order to assist in good posture, prevent injury and muscle weakness.
3. Roll out your quads and hamstrings
The quadricep muscles are the group of muscles at the front of your thigh. Together with the hamstrings, these muscles work together to help your knee joint to bend and extend, as well as help with hip flexion.
We use our quad muscles every day in nearly every leg movement, when doing leg exercises as well as moving about in general. That is why it’s so important to stretch and maintain these muscles (as well as your hamstrings), through recovery methods such as foam rolling exercises.
There are so many benefits of foam rolling and doing it regularly can make a big difference in injury-prevention and optimising your performance.
4. Don’t forget your hip flexor muscles
When it comes to leg exercises, or doing any lower body exercises, it’s important to also include hip strengthening exercises that utilise your hip flexors.
Your hip flexors are the muscles that allow you to move at your waist and lift your knees — when they are tight or weak, it can lead to muscle pain in your lower half, a weak core, or even back pain.
A sedentary lifestyle, such as working an office job or sitting down for extended periods, can also contribute to under-used or tight hip flexors. This is because the body stays in the same position for long periods of time.
These hip strengthening exercises can be incorporated into your usual workout, to help build up strength in your hip flexors. Alternatively, the hip strengthening stretches can be done after any workout, or even when your lower body is feeling a little tight.
5. Add resistance with ankle weights
Adding resistance to your leg exercises or lower body workouts can increase the intensity of the workout, which can improve your overall lower body strength.
Ankle weights are a good example of how to do this, to get more out of your lower body or leg exercises. Including ankle weights in a workout can make your muscles work harder, which can have a positive impact on what you get out of the exercise session.
This ankle weights workout can be done as an extra workout in your training program. Alternatively, if you choose to use ankle weights like our Sweat ankle weights, they can be incorporated into your standard workout program, whether it be a BBG workout, when you go for a walk, or even in the later stages of the Post-Pregnancy program.
6. Do yoga
When you think of lower body and leg exercises, yoga may not be the first thing that comes to your mind! However, incorporating yoga into your routine can have a really positive impact on your overall lower body strength.
As mentioned above, while it is important to isolate certain muscle groups and work on strengthening them, doing yoga allows you to work your entire body at once, including all the smaller muscles that you may not focus on in targeted training. It can also help to release tension in your lower half and improve flexibility.
Plus, holding the poses for longer periods of time can also assist in restoring and rebuilding connective tissue and improving your overall exercise performance.
We’ve covered the best lower body exercises — now it’s up to you!
Whether you want to prepare for a marathon, improve your overall fitness or become your strongest self, it’s really important to take a dedicated and focused approach when it comes to your fitness journey.
Knowledge is power — by knowing what lower body and leg exercises you can do, as well as what areas to focus on during your usual workout routine, you can help to reduce the risk of injury and make the most of your health and fitness journey.
What goals are you setting for this 12 Week Challenge? Let us know in the comments below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.