Have a Ball
Use a Swiss ball to kick your own ass into gear on leg day.
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It’s leg day and the gym is packed with muscleheads hogging the machines. How are you going to get your lower-body workout done? Get some balls (well, one at least!) and a set of dumbbells, and do this killer routine to whip your lower half into shape.
Muscles targeted: Quads, glutes
Setup: Place the Swiss ball between your lower back and the wall, and step your feet out so they’re about a foot in front of you. Place your hands on your hips and stand up straight.
Move: Bend your knees and lower your glutes toward the floor, rolling the ball down along the wall as you squat while keeping your torso upright. When your knees make a 90-degree angle, reverse the move and return to the start.
Tip: If your torso is getting pushed forward by the ball, it’s too high on your back. Start with the ball lower, and try again.
Muscles targeted: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core
Setup: Stand several feet in front of the Swiss ball and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides. Extend one leg behind you so your ankle and shoe are resting on top of the ball. Stand up straight and pull your shoulders back.
Move: Bend your front leg, tracking your knee over your toes and lowering until your front knee makes a 90-degree angle. Press through your heel to return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: If you feel off-balance, press your rear foot firmly into the ball and tighten your abs to stabilize your standing leg.
Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, core
Setup: Lie on the Swiss ball so your head and upper back are supported and your hips are lower than your head. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and hold a set of dumbbells in the crease where your hips meet your torso.
Move: Press through your heels to lift your hips up until they come in line with your knees. Squeeze your glutes hard, then lower slowly to the start.
Tip: The closer your feet are together, the more challenging the move.
Prone Leg Lift
Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back
Setup: Lie facedown with your belly on the Swiss ball and extend your arms toward the floor so your fingers touch.
Move: Lift one leg in the air, keeping it straight, until it comes parallel to the floor. Pause for one breath then lower to the start. Continue, alternating sides.
Tip: For a greater challenge, lift your opposite arm simultaneously as your leg.
Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back, core
Setup: Lie on the floor, placing your heels and ankles on top of a Swiss ball. Straighten out your body (lock it in place), arms extended at your sides, palms touching the floor.
Move: Drive your heels into the ball, pulling it toward you as you raise your knees toward the ceiling. You want to roll the ball toward your hips. Pause briefly when your feet are flat against the ball’s surface and then reverse the action until you reach the extended position.
Tip: The less you press your palms into the floor, the more you can increase stress on the working muscles.