Let's be honest with ourselves: At the end of a long day spent hunched behind a desk, the last thing we're thinking about is hitting the gym. Our backs ache, our heads are pounding, and we just want to kick off those heels and crash on the couch. But the truth is, if you spend several hours each day sitting, then you need to take the time to stretch and strengthen those glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors! We've found some tried-and-true moves that will help you shake off that slump and activate those lower body muscles! Not only will these exercises help you stretch out those legs and glutes, but they will also reduce your risk of injury, alleviate back pain, and help you take your training to the next level. Just remember, it's all about that bass!
1. Squat: Nothing wrong with your basic squat! Click here for more info.
2. Glute Bridge: Lie on your back and bend your knees until your feet are flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Engage your abdominals as you lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes together. Slowly return to the floor. For more details, click here.
3. Clamshells: Lie on your side and stack your knees. For an added challenge, add a resistance band around your thighs. Open the top leg to full extension to complete one rep, and then lower it back onto the bottom leg. Click here to see how it's done.
4. Donkey Kicks: Begin on all fours, and press your leg upwards, as if you're trying to stomp on the ceiling. Try to get your thigh parallel to the floor. You can tuck a dumbbell behind your knee for added resistance. Check out the instructions here.
5. Lying Leg Lifts: Lie on your side with your top leg extended straight and your bottom leg bent behind you. You can use a dumbbell or a knotted resistance band down by your ankles for more of a challenge. Raise and lower your top leg slowly, concentrating on keeping your hips aligned. For further directions, click here.
6. Lying Leg Abduction with Resistance Band: Wrap a knotted resistance band around your feet and lie on your back, extending your legs straight above you. Exhale as you slowly open your legs shoulder-width apart, and inhale as you carefully bring your feet back together. Check out more instructions here.
7. Reverse Plank: Begin on your back with your palms flat on the ground, and your fingers pointed in the direction of your toes. Engage your glutes and thighs as you push up into the reverse plank position. Keep your weight balanced between your hands and the heels of your feet. Check out a demonstration here.
8. Bird Dog: Begin on your hands and knees. Engage your core muscles as you stretch one arm straight in front of you, and the opposite leg straight behind you, in a line. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, and then repeat the exercise with the opposite arm and leg. Click here for more details.
9. Side Plank Hip Abduction with Resistance Band: Begin by wrapping a resistance band around your thighs. Place all of your weight on your bottom leg and supporting hand. Engage your glutes and core muscles as you slowly raise and lower your top leg. Click here to see how it's done.
These exercises will go a long way in helping you to strengthen and tone those lower body muscles. In addition to helping you build strength, they will also enhance your squats! For our favorite squat variations, click here.