Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fitness Over 50, Three Exercises to Build a Strong Foundation

Just as a house is only as strong as the foundation it sits on, strong legs are the foundation for a fit and strong body.  Below are three of my favorite exercises for developing a strong lower body.

Exercise # 1 - Leg Press

The leg press is one of the best exercises for overall strength and development of your legs.  First, sit in the seat, positioning your feet about shoulder width apart and chest high on the platform.   Adjust the seat height by pulling the handle and sliding forward until your thighs are parallel to the platform.  This is your start position (make sure that your lower back is pressed firmly against the back of the seat).  With your feet flat, slowly press upward until your legs are fully extended but short of locking.  Slowly return to the position where the weight almost touch the weight stack.  The breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale as you press up and inhale as you return to the start.  I suggest you perform 10 to 15 repetitions with a resistance which the last 3 repetitions are difficult to complete.

Exercise # 2 - Step Ups

Step ups are great for developing and shaping your butt.  With this exercise you will do 10 repetitions on one leg followed by 10 repetitions with the other.  Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position yourself in front of a bench.  Place one foot flat on top of the bench, positioning your body to make a right angle at your knee.  With your chest held high and shoulders square step up through your heel and lightly tap the bench with your other foot before returning to the starting position.  Breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale as you step up and inhale as you step back down.  Again, use a resistance with which the last three repetitions are difficult to complete.

Exercise # 3 - Hip Lifts

Hip lifts strengthen and develop the back of your legs and calves.  Lay flat on your back, extend your legs and place a therapeutic ball under your heels.  This is your starting position.  Lift your hips off the floor, and pull the ball toward your butt.  Now, press through you heels and lift your hips as far as possible.  Then, slowly return to the starting position.  Breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale while rolling the ball towards you and to inhale while returning to the starting position.  I suggest you perform 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise.