The three large glute muscles that make up our butt, are essential for any athletic activity that you can think of. Whether you’re jumping or climbing or bending, the glutes regulate and balance most movements. If your core muscles are the foundation for your fitness, strong glutes and leg muscles provide the support structure that you can’t do without.
I realised their importance thanks to my love for trekking. When you’re walking up or down steep inclines for up to 6-7 hours a day for days on end, the importance of strong legs really become very apparent. At the end of each day’s walk, while setting up camp, I started to identify specific parts of my body which hurt the most. These were invariably my glutes and my legs, since they had done the bulk of the heavy lifting and balancing through the day. Once I figured out the functional necessity of strengthening these muscles, I began taking lower body workouts very seriously.
My thigh and calf muscles, as they developed over time, started giving better protection to vulnerable joints like the knees and the ankles. Not only did this mean that I would get tired less easily, stronger muscles also meant that I was more confident in my movements, and my balance improved in leaps and bounds.
When it comes to training, I’ve found that people often tend to ignore the all important ‘leg day’. My guess is that this is because lower body gains are less conducive to satisfying one’s vanity, unlike, say, chest or core gains. But then again, even from the perspective of pure vanity, there’s nothing appealing about a flat butt, or weak thighs! Ultimately, your fitness hinges on maximising gains for your entire body, depending on the kind of sport that you’d like to play or the kinds of movements that you’d like to execute. And finally, it’s also true that the stronger your glutes and legs are, the less chance you have of suffering from lower back pain, especially as you grow older.
So, with that, let’s get straight into the exercises. There are three lower body workouts that we have today, one without any equipment, and two with a pair of dumbbells. All three can be done at home.
The first workout, from BullyJuice, is a 30-minute, no-equipment workout which is intense, but easy to execute. The workout includes three types of squat exercises, dynamic moves like lunges, frog hops and bunny hops. I’ve found this to be a great set for beginners.
The second workout, from The Body Coach, is a simple and moderately intense set for which you need a pair of dumbbells. Many of the moves are the same as the ones in the previous workout, but with the added resistance provided by the weights. It takes about 15 minutes to go through the reps, and they include squats, lunges, and a step up routine. Again, this a great workout if you’re just getting into leg training with weights.
The final workout, from Athlean-X, is a more detailed set which targets some specific moves, including those meant for strength like reverse lunges; for hypertrophy (i.e. muscle growth)like the Bulgarian split squat; for power, like dumbbell jump squat; for full body movement, like the squat; and also moves for better metabolic health, and a corrective exercise. Again, you don’t need anything more than a pair of dumbbells for this workout.