Training the largest muscle group in the body can make leg day a literal pain, but the benefits of weight loss, improved fitness, and stronger legs can be worth it. Read on below to find out five gym friendly workouts you can do to strengthen your legs and make periods of prolonged standing easier.
- Leg presses performed on a Leg Press Machine are a seated, resistance exercise that involves sitting at an incline while bending and extending your legs to push your body weight away from the machine’s footplate.
Benefits: They work to stimulate and strengthen your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings depending on foot positioning and weight repetitions.
Foot positioning will work muscles at varying degrees:
- Wider foot placement = Inner thigh muscles
- Narrow foot placement = Outer thigh muscles
- Higher foot placement = Glutes & Hamstrings
- Lower foot placement = Quads & Knees
- Leg Extensions using the Leg Extension Machine are another seated resistance exercise that involves hooking your ankles behind a padded roller bar and pushing it upwards and away from your body.
Benefits: Leg extensions target the quadricep muscles that aren’t usually exercised during activities like running or walking. This can improve and protect your knees, prevent osteoarthritis and improve overall stability and balance in everyday life.
- Try completing 3 sets of 8-12 reps of leg extensions at a moderate load/weight to improve quad strength.
- Hip and Thigh Abductions/Adductions exercises focus on strengthening outer and inner hip and thigh muscles as well as glutes. The exercise involves using the seated Ab/Adduction machine to push padded resistance weights either towards or away from your body using your thighs.
This exercise helps to tone and tighten your glutes while improving hip and knee strength. The muscles worked by this machine make standing, walking and rotating the legs easier during everyday movements such as moving off a chair, easier.
- Try completing 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps at a time, taking a one-minute rest between each set.
- If you’re new to the machine, focus on using low, comfortable weights at higher reps to strengthen muscles.
- Lying/Prone Leg Curls are an exercise that you perform while lying face down on your stomach. It involves resting the rolling pad of the machine between your heels and calves and curling your ankles and legs back towards your glutes.
This resistance exercise uses knee flexes that help to strengthen your hamstrings and tighten your core, stabilising your knees and reducing your susceptibility to knee and leg injury.
- Always adjust the machine height and weight to the one you are comfortable with. This will allow you to move your legs in full motion and prevent injury.
- Try completing one set of 10 reps.
- Glute Kickbacks using the machine with the same name work in the same way donkey kicks do, however with resistance. Resting your body face down on the machine, it involves kicking against the resistance bar and extending your leg upward and backwards into the air.
By strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and hips, glute kickbacks strengthen your posterior (overall backside) to make everyday movements like sitting, standing, climbing or carrying heavy objects easier.
- Start off completing three slow but proper sets of 10-15 reps for each leg. Adjust speed and weight resistance as you get used to the movement.