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What exercise will strengthen my legs?

Virtually any leg exercise can help strengthen your legs such as squats, lunges, and leg presses. Strength is accomplished by overloading a muscle beyond its current capacity; however strength programs can be enhanced through the incorporation of flexibility and progressing from a program that increases your body's stabilization. Proper flexibility in the lower body is incredibly important for leg strength. Due to technology and typical sedentary lifestyles, most individuals have shortened hip flexors (muscles that help you bend at the hip) and lengthened gluteal (butt) muscles. These muscle imbalances will decrease your ability to produce force in your legs because when the hip flexors are short or overactive, they cause a lengthening out of the gluteal muscles. Muscles that are too long, or too short, cannot produce optimum force. Stretch these muscles to increase your leg strength: calves, hips, piriformis (small muscle in the butt). Progressing from a stabilization program will also help increase leg strength because working on your lower body stability increases endurance and helps the muscles around your joints function optimally. Example stabilization leg exercises include single leg squats, step up to balance, and lunges to balance. Exercises that focus on stabilization should consist of 1 to 3 sets of 12 - 25 repetitions at a 50 - 70% intensity level.

The best leg strengthening exercises tend to be ground based.  Squats, leg presses, lunges and deadlifts are excellent for improving lower body strength.  For most people 2-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions with heavy load will produce good strength gains.  Of course never compromise proper lifting form to use heavier weights.  And mix in single leg squats and lunging in different directions to develop some balance & agility.

Some great leg strengthening exercises include leg press, squats, lunges, step ups, squat jumps, deadlifts, leg extensions and wall sits. 2-3 sets of 10 - 12 repititions, depending on your fitness level, using a heavy load for machine exercises such as leg press, and leg extensions. If you are doing free standing squats or deadlifts, start with a weight you know you can handle and slowly increase to your heavy load, so you do not injure yourself. Also, have a spotter close to help you if you get into trouble.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.