Tips to Build Stronger Legs

Power comes from the hips. They drive you up in a squat and stabilize you in a lunge. The trouble with most exercise machines, such as the ones for leg curls and leg extensions, is that they work your hamstrings or quadriceps from a fixed position, ignoring your hips and the rest of your lower body.

The Fix

To make greater muscle-building gains, you need to increase stability through your hips and strengthen your gluteus medius muscles. After your leg routine, stretch your hip flexors. If they're tight — they are for most men — your hips can't go through a full range of motion, and your legs can't reach their full potential. After you've stretched, do two sets of 15 reps of the following exercises on each leg. For the one-legged move, be sure to keep your feet straight and your knee lined up over your second and third toes. Like this routine? Find more like it — and demonstrations of more than 150 exercises — in this cool, iPhone app from the editors of Men's Health.

1. Single-Leg Squat Touchdown

Balance on your left leg with your knees slightly bent and your hands on your hips. Slowly bend your knee to lower your body toward the floor while reaching your right hand to the outside of your left foot. Push through your heel and squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position.

2. Lateral Tube Walk

Place exercise tubing above your ankles and stand with your knees slightly bent, hands on hips. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and sidestep to your right and to your left.

Mike Clark, M.S., P.T., is president of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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