Weight Training Fitness: Legs
Gym Work-Out for Legs
Working out the legs is one of the most important aspects of weight training, and body building. The legs contain four major muscle groups: the thigh, the hamstring, the calf, and the gluteus maximus. These muscle groups provide the body with every movement it needs to do in order to move forward. Luckily most of the exercises involve all of the muscles. The only muscle that needs to be worked out individually is the calf muscles. Some of the main exercises for the legs are: the squat, the leg press, the barbell lunge, the leg extensions, and the calf raise.
The squat is the foremost important leg exercise. Every person who has ever stepped inside a gym at one point in their life or another has seen this exercise done. Inside of a gym they have a squat “bench”. The squat bench has places for the barbell for lifting. I recommend setting the right height before loading the barbell with weight plates. Once you get the height set and the barbell loaded with plates you are ready to begin the squat. When doing squats it is imperative that you practice proper form before overloading your muscles, so for one session go light to learn the form better. With the barbell on your shoulders back up until you are at the outer edge of the squat frame. Set your feet a little more than shoulder width apart and set your feet so they form an invisible 90 degree angle, I.E. your left foot will face towards the left slightly and the same for the right foot. When you go to lower the weight you want to make sure your back stays straight and rigid. The weight on your shoulders should be over your knees at the end of the squat. Rise up and go back to the start position. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.
The Leg Press
With the leg press you can really load up the weight. It is not uncommon to see someone pressing 600 pounds. Definitely test the waters before you try that though. Most leg machines are sled like and have weight hangars on them. You usually have a heavier plate that goes here. You can still load it with 45’s but you may spend most of your time loading the weight that way. Anyway, the leg press machine starts out in the up position with a bar locking it in place. You have to move the weight up to unlock the machine. Once it is unlocked, in a controlled manner slowly lower the weight until your hips start to come off the machine. At this point, if you go lower you risk injuring your back. From here push the weight back up to where your knees are straight but definitely not locked. It is very important that you do not lock out your knees on this machine, especially if you have 600 pounds on it. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.
The Dumbbell Lunge
The dumbbell lunge is a great exercise for balance and strength. Use a moderate weight that you are comfortable moving around with. I recommend a seventy five pound dumbbell on each side but that’s just me. Starting at a neutral stance step forward with one foot and drop the knee of your other leg until it hovers just above the ground/floor. Go back to the neutral stance and then step forward with the other leg and drop the knee of the first leg until it hovers just above the floor. Return once more to the neutral position and that is one repetition. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.
The Leg Extension
The leg extension isolates the thigh muscle. I really never use this machine because the weight you can move is so minute that it is not even worth it to me. The leg extension is found in all gyms and has a seat with one or two foot holders where you would expect your feet to hang. Load a weight onto the foot holder and take a seat. Stick your legs underneath the closest foot holder; your feet should be slightly behind a vertical dangle. In one controlled movement raise the foot holders so your legs are straight out in front of you, and then lower it back down. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.
The Calf Raise
The calf raise is used to strengthen and tone the calf muscles. You can perform this movement in any variation that you can think of. I like the barbell with weight on my shoulders and toes on a forty five pound plate on the floor method. Once you get to the starting position like I stated above, you raise your body up by standing with just your toes on the plate. Once you get on your tiptoes lower your self back down to where your heels are back on the floor. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.
Hubchallenge no. 14
There are many other exercises that can be done to work the leg muscles; this list of exercises is to form a foundation on which to build on. If you find yourself unsure of how to properly perform an exercise, each gym offers a personal trainer that has been trained and is knowledgeable on all exercises. Use the services that the gyms offer. Before starting any exercise routine get a physical done by a medical doctor if you are over the age of thirty. You should always rotate your joints before doing any types of activities. Also, you should stretch your muscles before using them in exercise. By doing these two things you will prevent about 90% of all weightlifting and training injuries.
Copyright 2009 by Wesley Cox
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