Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strengthening and Toning Workouts for Butts and Legs

Strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles to improve your functional and sport performance. Functional performance or functional capacity is your ability to easily and safely perform the activities you do on a daily basis. Include different types of muscular contractions for a well-rounded leg program. Change the type of leg workout you do every four weeks to prevent training plateaus.
Concentric Workouts
A concentric contraction occurs when the force of your muscle is greater than the resistance acting on it. Your muscle shortens as a result. Most concentric exercises use a typical two- to four-second count; these are exercises you commonly see people do in the gym. Pair an exercise for the front of your thighs or your quads, with an exercise for the back of your thighs or your hamstrings. You may also pair an exercise for your quadriceps with an exercise for your calves.
Include abdominal exercises in your leg training program. Your leg muscles can recover while you work your abdominals. Do squats with basic crunches, straight leg dead lifts with sit-ups, lunges with calf raises, and hamstring ball curls with reverse crunches. Complete three sets of six to 12 repetitions per exercise.
Eccentric Workouts
An eccentric contraction occurs when the resistance or weight against your muscle is greater than the force you are exerting; your muscle contracts but lengthens. The eccentric phase of a muscle contraction occurs when you are returning to the starting position. Use a one-second count to concentrically contract or shorten the muscle, then count to 10 as you eccentrically contract your quads, glutes, hamstrings and claves. Perform three sets of each exercise, resting two minutes between sets; then do the next exercise.
Include abdominal exercise while you are resting, or you may stretch your muscles. Do leg extensions, leg curls, hamstring lean-tos, straight leg dead lifts and calf raises. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions per exercise. According to a 2010 article by Daniel Lorenz, published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, eccentric exercises reduce tendon overuse injuries and are also effective at treating tendon inflammation and ruptures.
Isometric and Plyometric Exercises
An isometric contraction is a contraction where your muscle does not lengthen or shorten as it contracts. Breathe normally during isometric exercises. Plyometric exercises slightly stretch your muscles before they rapidly and forcefully contract. Plyometrics link muscular strength with muscular speed. Do alternating sets of isometric and plyometric exercises. Include squat jumps off a step bench with an isometric leg raise to your side, lateral shuffles with an isometric leg curl, isometric leg extensions with lunge jumps, and calf jumps using jump soles with isometric lunges.