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A strong foundation

The routine most likely to get neglected in gyms are leg workouts. And, as I’ve noticed, it’s more men that tend to neglect working out their leg muscles than women.

     Print Edition: June 29, 2008

The routine most likely to get neglected in gyms are leg workouts. And, as I’ve noticed, it’s more men that tend to neglect working out their leg muscles than women. Yet, the leg muscles— the hamstring, the quadriceps and the calves—perform the most taxing of work in everyday life. Just think of how much time you spend on your legs, standing, walking or running. It’s a different matter, if you’re a couch potato. In that case, what are you doing reading this column?

Squat is the best exercise for the legs
Squat is the best exercise for the legs
The best exercise for the legs is the squat. You could use dumb-bells, barbells or just your body weight to do squats as long as you keep your form correct. Squats target your quads—the front part of your thighs— and there are a couple of things to remember when you’re doing them: keep your back in its natural arch, shoulders back and ensure while you are going into the squat position that your knees don’t extend beyond your toes. The squat builds muscles and you should do four sets of 8-10 repetitions as the first exercise for your legs.

The illustration shows how to do dumb-bell squats. Squats can be followed by leg presses, which are usually done on machines. Depending on where you place your legs on a leg press machine you can vary what part of the thigh muscles are targeted by the exercise. If the feet are placed far apart, the inner thighs are worked more; if they are placed close to each other then the outer thigh gets a better work out. The best option is to keep your feet about 10-12 inches apart and in the centre or top half of the platform. Again, four sets are optimal.

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Two other leg exercises— the leg extension, which also targets the quads, and the leg curl, which targets the hamstring muscles—complete the upper leg routine, which can be followed by calf raises for the lower leg workout. Both the exercises are done on machines— the leg extension machine usually doubles as a leg curl machine.

But even dumb-bells can be used for a good hamstring workout in the straight leg deadlift but it is not an easy exercise and can create complications in people with lower back problems.

Some form of exercise for the legs—quads, hamstrings and calves— should be an essential part of your exercise regimen. Besides getting a proportionate physique with a well-balanced upper and lower body it is literally a way to get a strong foundation. Now, there is this thing about leg exercises: leg muscles take time and a lot of effort to build and it helps if you keep increasing the weight from set to set. So go heavy!

Muscles Mani

Write tomusclesmani@intoday.com and click here to read Treadmill blogs
Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations.
Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.

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