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Functional Fitness Workout: Strengthen the Legs and Create a Great Butt

Functional exercise is always a hot topic in the fitness industry because it is important to teach your body how to function together as a unit. Muscles don’t work in isolation in your daily life, so why train them that way in workouts? If your goal is to strengthen the legs keep reading!

Strengthen the Legs with sqatNeurologists discovered that when you use the body, you can change inefficient pathways between the body and brain to make it more efficient. Functional exercise helps with this re-patterning which retrains the brain to efficiently perform real-life activities that are done on a regular basis.

Movements Done Regularly Through Out the Day

Motion is a part of everyday life, so it is important to learn how to do common activities:

Lifting: groceries, laundry baskets, children

Pulling: opening heavy doors, pulling furniture, pulling a wagon

Strength: standing up and sitting down (squats), walking up a hill

Balance: walking upstairs while carrying bags, standing on a ladder

Pushing: Pushing open a door, pushing a grocery cart, putting things away in the cupboard above your head

Equipment Needed for this program:

Dumbbells, step with risers, dowel rod, deflated stability ball or small softball and a resistance band.

How To:

Start with at least 5 minutes of cardio to warm up; you can use the one we provided for this workout.

Do each exercise for 30-60 seconds depending on how many repetitions you are doing, start with five repetitions and work your way up to twelve repetitions. Once you can complete one set of twelve repetitions, then add on a second set starting with five repetitions and build up the second set to twelve repetitions as well.

Repeat the entire circuit once for a shorter workout, or up to 3 or more times for a longer, more intense workout.

End your workout with a cool down and a stretch.

Watch Each Video Before Attempting to Do the Workout

Lower Body Mobility Warmup

Try this Amazing Warm Up:

Marching on the Spot

Start by marching on the spot, then, start marching on your heels, raise your toes as much as you can as you march. Once you have achieved eight steps on each heel switch and start walking on your toes. Repeat the step pattern on your toes, lifting the heels as high as possible, being careful not to roll the ankles. Once comfortable with marching on the spot, start walking eight steps forwards and eight steps backwards on your heels. March on the spot for a moment as you return, then, switch back to marching on your toes and move forward for eight steps and eight steps backwards. Please note that it is important to make sure the knees are almost entirely locked (soft knee) out as you move.

Knees Up

Keep in mind when you are coming from an injury that you will not attain full range of motion. Start with small marching steps (there should only be a 20 to 30° bend in your knee and hip). The goal is to eventually be able to march on the spot with the knees and hips both at a 90° bend. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg.

Butt Kicks

Once you have completed the knee-ups, go directly into the butt kicks. Place your hands on your buttocks, palms facing outwards. Flex your knees behind you trying to touch your heels to the palms of your hands.  Perform 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg.

Squats

Squats are a great mobility exercise, when coming back from an injury or surgery, start with ¼ squats and slowly increase to the full range of motion. Ensure you always perform Squats in the pain-free range of motion. When beginning a squat flex at the hips, moving the hips back into a sitting motion, then flex the knees. Make sure the knees do not move forward past the toes when sitting down into the squat. Perform 12 to 15 squats.

Side-to-Side Steps

Start with a stance just slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Move your left foot towards your right foot and stop as they come in line with one another. Step out back into the original position, but have your right foot move towards your left foot. Repeat the pattern for 12 to 15 steps.  Once you have mastered this movement, start adding in a pause with each step, fighting for balance on each step. The next level of difficulty would be to bend your knee further, dropping lower with each side step.

Hip Rotation (aka the Funky Monkey)

Extend the hip and place the foot behind you on the ball of the foot. Ensure you keep the foot planted and start to rotate the hip, internally and externally rotating the femur.  Once you have completed this movement, flex the hip and place the heel in front of you. Rotate the hip with your heel planted, moving the femur internally and externally. Complete 15 rotations in each position, then switch over to your other foot and repeat.

Perform these movements then finish up by marching on the spot again. You can do variations of each of these exercises or focus on one more than the other.

*Important* Make sure you are lifting properly in daily activities; remember to pick-up that large bottle of water or laundry basket by spacing your feet shoulder width apart, sit down into your bottom, make sure your back is straight then grab a hold and use your legs. Put it down and do it again. In the event, your knees hurt when you try to squat free form, practice sitting down on a chair until you strengthen the legs.

Strengthen the Legs with this Exercise Program

Functional Training Squat Lifts

Squats and lunges: Most reaching, lifting and bending movements involve an element of squatting or lunging. Remember to push out your butt and don’t let your knees go farther forward than your toes. You’ll strengthen your knees, quads, and hips

The Single Leg Squat Step Down trains primarily the muscles of the hip, buttocks, thighs and, quads (intermedius and vastus lateralus medialis), hamstrings. Additionally, the squats strengthen the ligaments and insertion of the tendons and the bones throughout the lower body. Squats are an important exercise for the core and to strengthen the legs.

Single Leg Squat Step Down

The upper back, the lower back, the trunk muscles, the abdominal muscles, the costal muscles, the arms and shoulders are all essential in performing squats and lunges when you do them with proper form.

Crossover Squat

The Inner Thigh Ball Squeeze is an excellent way to work the adductors because you don’t need a machine or much equipment. In this video, it shows the move with a deflated stability ball. However, you can use any small ball that is soft, and you have handy.

Deflated Stability Ball Inner Thigh

Side Lying Leg Lifts are a typical exercise for the glutes and the outer thighs and a great way to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee. It is a good way for the novice to start if you lack balance. However, the standing version is preferred because it works both legs as well as the core and helps to build balance. When you start the standing version (see the Robot Walks video below) practice initially without a resistance band or use a light ankle weight instead to strengthen the legs.

Robot Walks

Professional Athletes train for specific sports by using a given stressor, so the body adapts to that specific demand. Using this same principle, we should be doing exercises to strengthen the legs that will prepare you for recreational and daily activities so that you can remain functional throughout your lifetime.

People that are new to exercise should hire a certified personal trainer before attempting any new activity. Working with one of Infofit’s certified trainers will help you achieve your personal fitness goals in a responsible, safe and effective manner. Working with a personal trainer will be one of the best investments you can make about your overall health and fitness.

Functional Training Facts and Fallacies Podcast

If you are looking to add functional fitness exercises into your workouts, then don’t miss this informative lecture.

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