Wall sits, squats and lunges help build the muscles of your upper legs, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Once you have mastered the basic moves, you can add variations that intensify the difficulty, recruit more core muscles and incorporate the upper body. These multi-functional versions of squats, lunges and wall sits help you get more out of your workout in a shorter time.
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Add variety, and intensity, to the basic squat by holding dumbbells in each hand while performing the exercise. For a front-loaded squat, hold dumbbells at the fronts of your shoulders with your elbows bent at your sides. Barbell squats add intensity by resting a barbell on your upper back as you perform the exercise. Sumo squats are performed with your feet about three to four feet apart and your toes turned slightly out. Add upper-body work to the squat with biceps curls or shoulder presses. More advanced exercisers and athletes may benefit from squat jumps -- explosive squats that involve jumping from a bent knee, squat position and landing with soft knees.
As with squat exercises, you can hold dumbbells in each hand or rest a barbell on your upper back to increase the difficulty of basic lunge exercises. Perform forward or rear lunges with your feet at hip-width and take a giant step forward or backward to drop into the lunge. Jump lunges involve starting in the split stance and jumping up explosively from bent knees and changing the lead foot in mid air. You can also do a static lunge with your back leg elevated to get greater activation of the muscles of the buttocks. Lunging forward with rotation of the torso trains the core. You can also perform upper body moves such as rows, triceps extensions, biceps curls, lateral raises and shoulder presses as you lunge.
Wall-Sits with Extra
For the wall sit, you brace your upper back, head and shoulders against a wall and slide down, forming a 90 degree angle at your hips. Your knees should be directly above your heels. As the name implies, you sit as long as you can to strengthen the quads and glutes. To make the move harder, extend your arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor, rather than letting them rest alongside your torso. Perform biceps curls or lateral shoulder raises while in the wall-sit position to involve your upper body. Modify the move by placing a stability ball behind you so that it rests between you and the wall.
Safety and Form
Make sure you know how to properly execute a squat, lunge or wall sit before adding any variations. If you are unsure of your form, consult a personal trainer for assistance. In all of the moves, you should keep your knees behind your toes to protect your knee joint. Before beginning any exercise program, consult your healthcare provider for clearance.