The lower body, which is considered anything from your tush down, is a problem area to many women. Targeted exercises can help shape, tone and strengthen your lower half. If you're exercising at a gym, you'll have easy access to free weights and weightlifting machines that allow you to really emphasize your lower body. You can even do compound exercises that work multiple muscles simultaneously for optimal results.
Wall squats work your glutes, or butt muscles; quadriceps, on the front of your thighs; and hamstrings, the back of the thighs. Other than a wall, you need a set of dumbbells and stability ball. Hold the ball against the wall with your mid-back, hold the dumbbells at your sides and step forward slightly. After placing your feet shoulder-width apart, lower yourself down by bending your knees. Once your thighs are parallel the floor, stand up and return to your original position. Repeat 10 to 12 repetitions and, while, lowering, do not let your knees push out past your toes.
Leg presses work your glutes, hamstrings and quads. Sit on the seat of a leg-press machine with your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform and your back against the backrest. After pushing up and flipping the handles to the sides, lower the platform toward your body. When your thighs are right in front of your chest and your knees form 90-degree angles, push back up and repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Leg extensions isolate your quadriceps and are done on the leg extension machine. Sit on the seat with your lower shins hooked under the padded lever arm and your hands grasping the handles below the seat. In a steady motion, lift the lever up by bending your knees to straighten your legs and contracting your quadriceps. Slowly lower and repeat 10 to 12 times. When lifting the lever arm, do not lock out your knees.
Seated adduction is done on an adduction machine. This exercise works your inner thigh muscles, which include the adductor longus, pectineus, sartorius and vastus medialis. Sit on the seat with your feet on the foot rests, back against the backrest and hands holding onto the handles at the bottom of the machine. Your legs should be in a "V" shape at this point with your inner thighs touching the padded levers. In a controlled motion, squeeze your thighs together, hold for a second and extend them back out. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Cable abduction is done on one side of a cable machine with an ankle strap. This exercise works your hip and outer thigh muscles, which include the illiacus, tensor fascia lata, psoas major and vastus lateralis. Fasten the strap to your lower left leg and a low setting on the cable machine. While standing with your right shoulder to the weight stack, lift your left foot off the floor and elevate your leg to your left in an arcing motion. Once you have gone as high as possible, lower and repeat. After doing 10 to 12 reps, switch sides.
Leg curls isolate your hamstrings and they are done on a lying leg curl machine. Lie face-down on the bench, hook your lower calves under the padded lever arm and grab the handles by the bottom of the machine. In a steady motion, lift the lever arm by bending your knees and contracting your hamstrings. Once your heels are by your butt, slowly lower and repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Farmers walks work your calf muscles with are found on the lower, back part of your legs. These muscles contain two parts -- the gastrocnemius, which is the upper part, and the soleus, the lower part. Farmer's walks are a simple yet challenging exercise. Grab two heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and hold them at your sides. In a controlled motion, lift up onto your tiptoes and walk across the gym for 15 to 20 steps. Turn around and walk back to your starting point.
- ACE Fitness: Stability Ball Wall Squatsrel="nofollow"
- American Council on Exercise: Seated Leg Pressrel="nofollow"
- ExRx.net: Lever Leg Extensionrel="nofollow"
- ExRx.net: Lever Seated Hip Adductionrel="nofollow"
- ExRx.net: Cable Hip Abductionrel="nofollow"
- ExRx.net: Lever Lying Leg Curl (plate loaded)rel="nofollow"
- ExRx.net: Kettlebell Farmer's Walkrel="nofollow"
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.