When deciding on lower body exercises for men, there are a few considerations that you have to take into account. The most important has to be what type of equipment you plan to use. Free weights, exercise machines and body weight can all have their place in an exercise routine and all can yield good results. The key is performing them with proper technique and performing them with adequate intensity.
You can do squats with a barbell, dumbbells or with body weight, as your resistance. Whatever you use, the technique is the same. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your back in an erect position with your head looking forward. Lower your hips -- with your back straight -- to a point that your thighs, or quadriceps, become parallel to the ground. Drive your hips upward to contract the thigh muscles. Repeat for the required number of repetitions and sets. Do not allow you back to slouch to avoid putting your back at risk of injury. By dropping to a point parallel to the ground this exercise also activates the hamstrings and gluteal muscles.
Start the leg lunge by stepping forward with your right foot. Make sure your right knee does not extend in front of your right foot. Your right thigh should be parallel to the ground. Contract the right quadriceps by trusting backward off of your right foot and return to an upright position. Step with the left foot into the same lunge position and drive up off of the left foot. The technique should be the same as with the right. Repeat the sequence for your required number of repetitions.
To properly perform a deadlift, start by standing inside of the trap or hex bar. Grasp the handles with a neutral grip and have your feet inside shoulder-width. You should be in a squatting position with your back straight and buttocks lower than your shoulders. Your head should be looking forward. Thrust the hips forward, while driving the shoulder straight up as you reach a standing position. The key to this lift is making sure you are not lifting your hips before your shoulders rise. If the hips rise first, your back will put under unnecessary strain. Properly performed, the dead lift will activate the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors.
Seated Calf Raises
Perform seated calf raises on a seated calf raise machine. Sit on the seat, secure your knees under the knee pad, and place the balls of your feet on the foot pad. Allow your heels to hang off of the foot pad. Thrust your heels up as high as they can to fully contract the calf muscle. Allow your heels to drop lower than your toes to stretch the calf muscle. Using this calf machine will isolate the calf muscles.
The leg extension machine will isolate the quadriceps by forcing the thigh muscle to act alone. Sit on the leg extension machine with your ankles behind the leg bar. At the start, your knees should be at approximately 90 degrees. Raise your feet in an arc-like motion so that you increase the angle at the knees to 180 degrees. Slowly lower your feet back to their starting position. This is one repetition.
The leg curl machine is an exercise machine that can isolate the hamstrings muscle group. Sit in the leg curl machine with your ankles on top of the leg bar. The angle at your knees should be approximately 180 degrees. Drive your feet in a downward arc so that your lower leg is perpendicular to the ground. Your knees should be at a new angle of 90 degrees. Do not lift your hips off the seat in an attempt to help with the lift. Return your legs and feet to their starting position.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal; Lower-Body Resistance Training: Increasing Functional Performance with Lunges; Justin Keogh
- Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal; Exploring The Deadlift; Stephen Bird, Ph.D.