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How to Do Basic Lower-Body Exercises

Essential Exercises For Your Lower Body

As Summer nears, our thoughts turn to what's underneath those layers of Winter clothes. If you're looking to tone your backside and legs before bikini season, here are five essential lower-body moves fundamental to any workout. And don't worry — you can do them anywhere!

The squat: That burning in your upper thighs as you hold a squat tells you just how great this move is for lower body muscles like hamstrings, glutes, quads, and the lower back, not to mention helping with your balance.
Don't forget: While doing squats, remember to keep your weight in your heels, not your toes, and as you lower yourself, pretend that you are sitting in a chair. Learn more on how to do a perfect squat and different squat variations here.

The lunge: This leg-strengthening move works the same muscles as a squat, but the movement required in the exercise helps you work your core muscles and balance as well. Another plus: between walking (forward or backward) or adding weights to your lunge workout, the possibilities are endless when it comes to lunge compound moves.
Don't forget: Make sure that your upper body is straight and upright, with shoulders down and chin up. When lowering your body, your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, with the front knee never going past your ankle and bottom knee never touching the floor. Engaging your core muscles will help keep you centered and balanced. When you've mastered that, here are five lunge variations to try.

Read on for more essential lower-body exercises.

The deadlift: Many view the deadlift as the ultimate butt-lifting move, and besides your backside, it works hamstrings, quads, and core muscles, too. It also helps those of us who spend hours sitting in a desk regain correct posture.
Don't forget: When lowering your barbell or weights, remember to bend at your hip joint, not waist, and don't round your back. The barbell or weights should stay close to your legs, almost touching them, as you bend forward. When you raise back up, do it in a quick motion, squeezing your glutes as you do. Read these instructions for more info on how to do a perfect deadlift.

The calf raise: These exercises are simple and effective, and if you aren't doing them, you may be neglecting your calves. Calf raises help you develop strong muscles so you can run faster, and they stretch overused, tight muscles.
Don't forget: Doing these three calf variations will ensure that you stretch and strengthen your entire calf muscle. Keep your feet hip-width apart and keep steady as you raise and lower your feet.

The bridge: If you've got a space to lie down, you've got all you need to do this move, which works your glutes and hamstrings. And since you are always keeping your core engaged, your abs get a workout as well.
Don't forget: Remember to keep your feet flat and under your knees, and your body stable as you perform this move. Your abs should be engaged, and you should be squeezing your glutes as you move up. Don't let your hips sag while doing this move — you want to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to knees. For added difficulty, try this bridge with resistance band move and straight leg bridge on an exercise ball.

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