Clock lunges and hip thrusts and frogs, oh my! These three amazing but little-known leg exercises from Lashaun Dale, senior national creative manager of group fitness for Equinox Fitness Clubs, will strengthen and shape your lower body (and core) lickety-split. Do these leg exercises 2 to 3 times per week for best results—then be sure to tell your friends so they can reap the benefits, too.
1. Hip Thrust
Why it’s great: “This is a great leg exercise to strengthen and shape your butt, plus create stability and strength in your core,” says Dale. Bonus: It can also help correct imbalances between your right and left legs.
How to do it: Lie on a bench, step or coffee table so your head, shoulders and upper back are supported and your feet are on the floor, knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or hold a weighted bar with both hands); steady the dumbbells across your pelvis (A). Without moving your knees, lift your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to knees (B). Slowly lower your hips back toward the floor. That’s one rep; do 10 to 15 reps.
2. Clock Lunge
Why it’s great: “This series of moves works every muscle in your lower body and core to build strength and challenge your stamina,” says Dale.
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width, holding a medicine ball, heavy dumbbell, or weighted plate with both hands in front of your chest. Imagine you are standing in the center of a clock, facing the 6. Draw in your belly button toward your spine and step your left leg out to 3 o’clock and lower into a side lunge (A), then push into your left foot to return to starting position. Next, lunge with your left foot out to 4 o’clock, allowing your back foot to pivot naturally and back knee to come close to the floor as you twist your torso to the left; repeat at 5 o’clock (B). Lunge forward with your left foot to 6 o’clock, then repeat with your right foot. Lunge with your right foot to 7 o’clock, twisting to the right (C); repeat at 8 o’clock. Side-lunge to the right at 9 o’clock (D), then reverse the series to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15 reps.
Why it’s great: “This leg exercise really targets your butt muscles, hamstrings and lower back,” says Dale. Once you’ve mastered it, try this move on a stability ball to challenge your core big-time as you work to keep your balance.
How to do it: Lie face-down on a bench, step or coffee table so that your torso and hips are supported and toes are touching the floor with legs straight. Grasp the front of the bench with both hands. Draw in your belly button and use your butt muscles to lift both legs up (A). Bend your knees, bringing your heels in toward your butt (B). Straighten and lower your legs to return to starting position. That’s one rep; do 10 to 15 reps.
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