5 Lower Body Exercises Every Man Should Do
They should be training the body from head to toe. A well-rounded, full-body approach is ideal for injury prevention, improved posture and better overall health.
A successful workout program should include a variety of lower body movements, from bilateral (two legs on the ground) and unilateral (one leg on the ground) exercises, to strength-based and power/speed movements. You should also try to include exercises that work additional planes of motion such as side-to-side movements (front plane) and rotational movements (transverse plane).
If you want to add some lower body exercises to your routine, try incorporating these five movements to get the most bang for your buck. If you can also include compound pushes (shoulder press, push-ups, etc.) and pulls (rows, pull-ups, etc.) for the upper body in your workouts, you'll be on your way to building the physique you desire.
Kettlebell Front Squats1 of 10
Hold a pair of kettlebells in the "rack position" (chest-height, under the chin). The weights should rest on the outside of your forearms and you should maintain a neutral wrist position.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep your toes slightly pointed out. As you prepare to squat, keep your chest up and core tight. Push your butt back and focus on opening your knees. Keep your head neutral and eyes looking forward throughout the movement.
Squat down as low as you can without breaking form. Return to the starting position by driving your hips up and standing tall.
Suggested Weight: 12- to 16-kilogram kettlebells
Suggested Frequency: 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Trap-Bar Deadlifts2 of 10
This exercise can be viewed as a hybrid of squats and deadlifts. It's a great place to start for those who are new to deadlifts, as the load is more in-line with the body's center of gravity.
Begin with your feet centered in the bar, about hip-width distance apart. Reach down with straight arms and think about lowering your butt while keeping your chest up. This will help you keep a neutral spine, which is crucial when doing deadlifts.
Trap-Bar Deadlifts Part 23 of 10
Before lifting the weight, focus on engaging the entire body and keeping your core braced. Stand up straight and complete the movement by squeezing your glutes at the top of the exercise.
Suggested Weight: Begin with 45-pound plates on each side of the bar. Adjust accordingly. Suggested Frequency: 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats4 of 10
This is a great unilateral movement that will challenge both balance and strength. Begin standing about two feet in front of a bench or box. Reach one leg behind you and place the top of your foot on the bench or box.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats Part 25 of 10
Keeping your chest up and your standing front foot flat on the ground, lower yourself down until the back knee nearly touches the floor. Focus on driving through the front foot, and keep your front heel on the ground. Perform all reps with one leg before switching sides.
Suggested Weight: 12- to 16-kilogram kettlebell
Suggested Reps: 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side
Broad Jumps6 of 10
This is a simple and effective exercise for developing power. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Drop down into a quarter-squat and drive your arms down and back.
Note: Try jumping next to measuring tape or something that helps you determine distance to monitor your progress over time.
Broad Jumps Part 27 of 10
Jump forward as far as you can by explosively throwing your arms out and extending your ankles, knees and hips at the same time. Focus on landing softly and under control on the balls of your feet.
Suggested Frequency: 6 to 10 total jumps. Rest for 20 to 30 seconds between jumps.
Sprints8 of 10
Sprints are one of the most important exercises people often avoid. Think about it—elite sprinters have some of the most desirable physiques of all professional athletes.
When sprinting, be sure to keep a slight forward body lean and don't break at the hips. Drive off the balls of the feet and keep a neutral spine with your eyes fixed in front of you. Make sure to pump your arms to incorporate your upper body.
Suggested Frequency: 6 to 10 sprints; 20 to 40 yards. Rest for 20 to 30 seconds between sprints.
Doug BalzariniAuthor Bio 9 of 10
Doug Balzarini is a personal trainer, fitness writer and creator of DB Strength. He's currently offering his services in Beverly, Mass., at Iron Village Strength & Conditioning.
Doug has several certifications, ranging from MMA to CrossFit. You can find out more on his website, DBstrength.com.