Muscle Building 101; Lower Body

Welcome to part two of Muscle Building 101!
– This post was inspired, again, by Kathleen who suggested I post a beginner’s guide to weight lifting, and also by all the wonderful people of ImgurFIT. –
Last weekend I posted part one, upper body, and it included some very essential lifting tips; (1) Eat, (2) Rest, (3) Increase, and (4) General health. Rather than going back through and regurgitating what I’ve already said about them, here’s a link to the part one blog: https://fit4review.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/muscle-building-101-upper-body/

And now for lower body…
*I took all of these pictures without adding any weight to the bars, because we were in a very cramped work gym with a lot of other people, so we had minimal space and time to get the pictures taken. Almost all of the following exercises are meant to be performed with weight.*

SQUAT
Works the quads, glutes, and hips primarily, but also the calves, hamstrings, and abs. Honestly a must for the legs.
I experienced some back pain when I originally started doing squats, so to help you guys avoid that I’d like to make a few notes: (1) keep your knees BEHIND your toes, (2) push your chest OUT, and (3) keep your HEAD UP. 

Squat1 Squat2

LUNGE
Works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hips. Another must for the legs.
Again, knee behind the toes, chest out, and head up!

Lunge1

(Obviously I'm only pictured doing one side, so you would do this same movement on both sides.)

(Obviously I’m only pictured doing one side, so you would do this same movement on both sides.)

CALF RAISE – with a barbell
Works the calves primarily
(This exercise can just as easily be done holding free weights at your side.)

Calf1 Calf2

“BOX” STEP UP
This is more of an aerobic leg exercise

Boxstep1

(Obviously I'm only pictured doing one side, so you would repeat the movement on the other side.)

(Obviously I’m only pictured doing one side, so you would repeat the movement on the other side.)

DEADLIFT
Works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips and lower back primarily, but also the lats and trapezius
Now, before any of you rip me to shreds, I want to say I do not recommend you perform this exercise until you’ve had someone credible show you the proper form in person. It is VERY difficult to capture this exercise in two photographs, because there is so much to be said for the form between the beginning and the end positions. This exercise is incredibly beneficial and effective, but there is also a lot of room to hurt yourself with bad form if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’m including it in this post because of how great it is as a lower body (or full-body, really) exercise. BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU USE ONLY THESE PICTURES TO INSTRUCT YOU ON THE PROPER DEADLIFT FORM.

Deadlift1 Deadlift3

GOOD MORNING
Works the hamstrings and lower back
(You bend your needs only to avoid hyper-extension. This exercise is not meant to be any kind of a squat)

Goodmorning1 Goodmorning2

BENT OVER BARBELL ROW
Works lats and trapezium primarily

Bentoverbarbellrow1 Bentoverbarballrow2

DECLINED BARBELL PULL-OVER
Works the chest primarily, but also the lats, deltoids, and triceps
(I’m including this in the lower body post because it serves as a good back exercise.)

Declinebarbellpullover1 Declinebarbellpullover3

LEG PRESS
Works the quads and glutes primarily, but also the calves and hamstrings
I don’t have a picture of me doing the exercise, because the gym we were using didn’t have a leg press. (Sad day.) But this is such a great, and essential, lower body exercise that I couldn’t leave it out! So, I will picture the two different kind of leg press machines:

LegPressFreeWeight1
This is a free weight machine (meaning you put the weight on yourself and the weight you’re moving around is unassisted). I prefer this kind of leg press as it is a bit more of a challenge than the next kind…

LegPressAssisted1
This is an assisted machine (meaning you choose your weight from a stack with a pin, and the pulleys in the machine assist you with the weight you’re moving around). I use this type of leg press as well, though I find the free-weight machine to be a better, more challenging, exercise.

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Okay! That’s it for part 2 of muscle building 101!
Thanks so much for reading!

Pura vida and stay strong.

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