Squats And Lunges are Great and Simple Leg Exercises

Squats Type 2 -close legs - Smala knäböj, Strength Training (Styrketräning)
Ulf Liljankoski / Foter / CC BY-ND

 

 

Squats and lunges are a fantastic way to work the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus muscles of the legs. Squats and lunges also help to strengthen the core and  pelvic area. It is important to perform both these exercises correctly.

When performing a squat either with dumbbells, smith machine or barbell, correct form is extremely important. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Perform the squat by sitting back into your hips, leading with your backside as if you were going to sit. Slowly bring your torso back up to an upright position. Your knees should never come over your toes.  Rolling your knees forward over your toes can cause damage to the knees, and you are not hitting the targeted muscle groups of the glutes (muscles in the backside), quads (muscles in the thigh area) and hamstrings (muscles in the back of the leg). Practice squatting in front of a mirror to watch your form. People have a natural tendency to roll forward but by sitting back into your hips, you will be able to perform the squat correctly.

Lunges are also a great lower body exercise and also work the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus and hip flexors. Correct form is also important when performing this exercise. Begin the lunge with feet placed shoulder width apart. If you are using dumbbells, they should be down on either side of your body. If you are using the Smith machine, then the bar should be resting on the very upper part of your back. Begin by placing one foot in front of you, (front lunge), or placing it behind you (back lunge). Lower your body down, making sure your knee in front does not roll over your toe. Your torso remains upright and your core is tight. Bring your torso back up and continue the lunge by alternating each leg or staying on the same side.  Watch your form in the mirror to correct any mistakes.

Whether you chose to perform the squat, lunge or both, proper form is crucial to prevent damage to the knee.

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Benefits of Compound Exercises

A compound exercise is any movement that includes several joints and several muscles groups.  For example, the bench press is a compound exercise, because you are including the shoulders (deltoids) and chest (pectorals) in the movement.  The squat is also an example of a compound move. The squat involves the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips and knees. Other examples of compound moves are deadlifts, push-ups, pull ups, lunges and bent over rows. Since we function using multiple muscle groups, then exercising more than one muscle group makes more sense.  Compound exercises mimic moves that you perform daily, such as climbing stairs. Compound exercise also strengthens your core, a key component to maintaining balance and stability.