Lower Body

Chair squats

Muscles used: Gluteals, Quadriceps & Hamstrings, Calves

Begin with the chair against the wall. Turn your back towards the chair and step forward so that you are approximately 6-12 inches from the base of the chair. When seated, your butt should be in the center of the chair.

From this position, push your hips back and slowly lower your body until your butt taps the seat of the chair. Make sure you keep your upper body in an upright position with a slight forward lean. As you descend into the squat, your knees should not go beyond your toes. Once you have reached the chair, push back up through the heels of your feet to the starting position.

 

To modify this exercise:

  1. Sit fully and relax in the chair and push yourself back up to starting position.

To progress this exercise:

  1. Add hand weight or a bar to increase weight
Chair squat_step 1.1
Chair squat_step 2.1

Backwards lunges

Muscles used: Gluteals, Quadriceps & Hamstrings

Start with legs together and step backward a few feet with the right leg. While keeping your upper body perfectly upright and facing forward, lower yourself by bending at the knees. The left knee should remain directly over the left ankle. Continue to descend into the lunge until the knee is bent to 90 degrees. Drive through the left heel and push off the right foot to return to the starting position. Be sure not to use your upper body as a lever to propel you forward or back upward. You can place the chair in front of you if you need assistance with balance. Repeat movement on the opposite leg.

To modify this exercise:

  1. Start with a small range of motion and only descend halfway

To progress this exercise:

  1. Add hand weights or a bar
  2. Side lunges
backward lunge unsupported_step 1.1
backward lunge unsupported_step 2.1
backward lunge unsupported_step 3.1

Side lunges

Muscles used: Gluteals, Adductors, Quadriceps & Hamstrings, Calves

Step the right foot out to the side so that your feet are wider than shoulder width and sit back into a squat while keeping the left leg straight. The majority of your body weight should remain on your right leg. Continue to descend until the thigh is parallel to the ground. At the bottom of the movement, be sure that your knee is tracking out directly over your foot and that your knee doesn’t drift forward beyond your toes. To return to the top, push through the right leg back to standing position. Repeat on the opposite side.

When lunging make sure the hips sit straight back, the knee stays tracking over the foot, and the abdominals engage to keep the chest lifted.

To modify this exercise:

  1. Start with a small range of motion and only descend halfway
  2. Use a chair or wall to assist with balance

To progress this exercise:

  1. Perform with weights or medicine ball in one or both hands
Side lunge supported_step 1.1
side lunge supported_step 2.1
side lunge_step 2.1

Banded leg curls

Muscles used: Hamstrings & Calves

Stand facing the back of your chair and stand about hip width apart. If working your right leg, loop one end of the resistance band behind your right heel and stand on the opposite end with your left heel.  Keeping your thighs in line and your right foot flexed, lift your heel towards your butt while squeezing the back of your right leg. Slowly bring your heel down to the floor. Repeat on opposite side.

To modify this exercise:

  1. Give exercise band more slack to decrease the resistance

To progress this exercise:

  1. Make exercise band taut or use a higher resistance band
banded leg curl set up_step 1.1
banded leg curl set up_step 2.1
banded leg curl set up_step 3.1
banded leg curl set up_step 4.1

Hip bridge

Muscles used: Gluteals, Hamstrings & Core

Lying on your back, bend your knees to slightly less than 90 degrees and bring your feet to the floor about hip width apart (this is only 6-10 inches). Keep your heels no more than a few inches away from your bottom. Keeping your tailbone tucked and abdominals engaged, exhale while you push the hips up. Push your hips until your thighs and upper body make a straight line. Inhale while you slowly lower your hips back to the floor.

To progress this exercise:

  1. Add hand weights, a medicine ball or a bar by placing the weight in your hip crease
  2. Lift one foot off of the ground slightly while performing the movement. Repeat on opposite side
hip bridge_step 1.2
hip bridge_step 2.1

Hip abductions

Muscles used: Gluteals & Abductors

Stand facing the back of the chair and place your feet hip width apart. Using the chair as balance, keep your right leg as straight as possible without locking your knee. Leading with your heel, move your right leg about 12 inches from the midline of your body then slowly bring your foot back to the starting position. Be sure to keep the upper body completely upright and to keep the hips level. Avoid dropping the hips to either side as you perform this exercise. Repeat on the opposite side.

To modify this exercise:

  1. Start with a small range of motion and only move the foot about 6 inches away from the midline of the body.

To progress this exercise:

  1. Lie on your side on the floor with your elbow propping you up underneath you. Perform same movement.
hip abduction_standing_step 1.1
hip abduction_standing_step 2.1

Calf raises

Muscles used: Calves

Stand facing the back of your chair and point your feet straight ahead while keeping them about hip-width apart. Using the back of your chair for balance, push up onto the balls of your feet and slowly lower your heels back to the ground.

To modify this exercise:

  1. Start with a small range of motion

To progress this exercise:

  1. Perform this exercise on a single leg at a time. Tuck your opposite foot behind the working leg. Repeat on opposite side.
Calf raise_step 1.1
Calf raise_step 2.1

Next step

Let’s move on to some upper body exercises.

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