6 Lower Body Exercises to Do Instead of Squats

6 Lower Body Exercises to Do Instead of Squats

Hip mobility and strength are crucial for “simple” things like walking and getting up from a chair, but also come into play for sports and functional movement. The primary role of the hip extensors, which include the hamstring and adductor muscles of the thigh, is to extend the hip during gait (walking, running) and provide dynamic stability when performing one legged exercises or movements. They are responsible for lower body strength and for distributing power from the ground through the rest of the body.  Notably, lack of proper hip strength can lead to a low back injuries and pain.  Lower body exercises that incorporate the hip extensors as a group help mobility and protect your back.

Here’s 6 Lower Body Exercises You Can Try if You’re Sick of Squats:

1. Bridge

For me, this is daily medicine.  The bridge is a solid exercise that incorporates the core including the back, the glutes, hamstrings, and even some calf.

Start with 2 to 3 sets of 12, and work your way up to 15 per set.

2. Deadlift

Another solid basic lower body exercise for the extensors group is the Romanian Dead lift, which can be done in a myriad of different ways, with barbells or dumbbells, or just as a simple hip hinge.

The back must stay flat with abs engaged, so the depth depends on your ability to keep that back straight.  2-3 sets of 12 reps is a solid start.

3. Step ups

The step up (or even just doing stairs) also helps to activate through the glutes and hamstrings.  When choosing a step, height should be low enough so that the angle at your knee does not break 90 degrees.

3 sets of 12 per side will activate those muscles nicely!

4. Rear Lunges

Stepping back into a lunge creates a slightly different dynamic for the extensors.  Stand with feet together, take a big step back, lunge down, then step forward, with control.  3 sets of 12 per side.

5. Lateral Lunges

This one will work the inner thigh (adductor) a bit more, so it’s worth adding into the mix.  Step out to the side, lunge down, and step back to the center.  3/12 per side.

6. Kettlebell swings

This is one of my all time favorites because it adds some momentum to the mix.  Start with feet about hip width apart, swing your kettlebell down, and then up to about shoulder height.  You will have to stabilize through the hips, to control the momentum.  Keep your core engaged, and push through the hips.  3/24

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Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen

Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.

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