Sometimes, it’s nice to change it up a bit and add more challenge to your overall lower body training. While we certainly love our traditional deadlifts and squats, it serves as a good idea to think outside the box with creativity to impose a novel stimulus on the lower body muscles.
Here are some unique lower body exercises that you can pepper in from time to time that will help to strengthen your hips, knees, quads, hamstrings, and groin (adductor) muscles.
#1 - KB Double Dead Stop 1-Leg RDL
How to perform:
#2 - Kang Squat
The Kang Squat is essentially a combination of two lower body movements: good morning + squat. It's a great way to target the lower body muscles.
You can use the Kang Squat in your warm-up, which helps to prepare the hamstrings and quads. It doesn't hurt that you're grooving both the hip hinge and squat pattern either, which can certainly bump your overall volume. In turn, this volume of grooving both patterns will increase your skills in performing each hip hinge-based and squat-based lift.
Here are 2 Kang Squat warm-up variations:
This exercise is also great for loading in your overall training program since it targets strengthening of the hamstrings, back, quads, and glutes all in one move. Select a weight that allows you to perform each segment of the Kang Squat with precision and form. Don't rush this movement; the benefit is in the controlled tempo.
Here are 4 Kang Squat training variations:
1. DB Kang Squat
#3 - DB Prone Hamstring Curl
This is your go-to if you only have access to one dumbbell and looking to build hamstring strength. Minimal equipment but the challenge is certainly harder than it looks.
The added bonus here is that these two prone curl exercises target more than just the hamstring muscles. You'll get some adductor (groin) muscle strength packed in as well.
Start with the floor version first, and then advance to the bench option. They're both fun in their own way. Trust me, you don't have to go that heavy to feel the hammies working here, either!
You’ll notice an Airex pad (or two) underneath my stomach on both variations. That’s to help keep your spine in a neutral position and to decrease low back muscle (spinal erector) activation so that the hamstrings can be the life of the party.
1. DB Floor Prone Hamstring Curl
#4 - Dead Stop Split Squat
This is a great option for athletes looking to get a bit more out of the traditional split squat exercise. It's certainly a bump in the challenge from the typical set-up.
I like this dead stop variation of the split squat movement pattern since it challenges you MOST at the bottom. The bottom of the split squat is where most folks either bounce off the floor upon contact, avoid getting low enough to challenge the leg muscles, or simply lack stability and control.
Start with the large KB version first, and then advance to the DB option. The large KB is perfect for this exercise since it allows you to remain tall through the trunk. However, the DB variation forces your lateral trunk muscles to become a bit more involved when you ascend from the bottom.
1. KB Dead Stop 1-Arm Offset Split Squat
#5 - DB 1-Arm Offset Wall Lean Curtsy Lunge
Here is a great exercise option to add into your lower body training day for several reasons. The set-up is quite unique, but it definitely packs a punch and will help to strengthen your legs!
Reasons you should give it a shot:
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Matthew Ibrahim is the Co-Owner, Director of Strength & Conditioning and Internship Coordinator at TD Athletes Edge in Salem, MA. Throughout his career, Matthew has been an invited guest speaker nationally in over 10 U.S. states, which was highlighted by his presentations at Google Headquarters, Stanford University, Equinox, Lululemon and Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, in addition to guest speaking internationally in Milan, Italy. He has also been an invited guest speaker by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) at the regional conference level and at the state clinic level. His professional work has been featured in some of the world’s largest publications, such as Men's Health, Men’s Fitness and STACK Media. Currently, he is a PhD student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in the Human and Sport Performance program. Matthew also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Endicott College and an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Maryville University.