Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Whether it’s a 10-mile run, walking up stairs or bending over to hoist a child into a high chair, leg strength is an important part of everyday life. According to the American Council on Exercise, working out will increase endurance, lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, boost both bone strength and cardiovascular health and burn calories.
Operation Live Well, a program designed to promote healthy habits in the military, has reached the Combat Center. Patrons are encouraged to regularly participate in physical activities. With the desert heat rising and the gyms being crowded, options can be limited when it comes to exercising but there are a variety of workouts military members and their families may do in the comfort of their own home.
When a squat is executed, people should hinge their hips so that your buttocks moves backward during the downward phase of the squat. The knees should not protrude over the toes and the pressure of the squat should be on the heels instead of the toe. The depth of your squat should not go past 90 degrees.
Straight head position: Be sure to align your neck with your spine. Rounding your neck or looking down while executing a squat throws off your spinal alignment and potentially makes the exercise dangerous. Find a spot slightly higher than eye level and stare at the same spot while executing the exercise.
Chest out/shoulders back: By keeping your shoulders back and your chest out, your lower back should assume the correct natural curve.
Slightly arched lower back: Your lower back should be kept slightly arched as the squat is executed. Too much arching may hyperextend your lower back and put significant pressure on your spine. Keep your core tight by engaging your abdominals.
Athletic stance, toes pointed out: Use an athletic stance for the squat so that your knees are slightly bent, feet are firmly planted on the ground, and toes pointed slightly outwards.
Exhale up/inhale down: Breathing is important for squatting in particular because it is a challenging exercise. Improper breathing may cause light headedness, nauseous, or in extreme cases, blacking out.
Depth of the squat: The depth of the squat primarily depends on hip flexibility. In general, your hamstrings should be parallel with the floor when executing a squat.
Lunges are effective and may be done anywhere and are effective. Like any other exercise, more harm than good can be the result if they are not done correctly. Your front leg should not pass the tip of your toes. Your back leg’s knee should be parallel with the floor. Push off your front foot through your heel.
Body positioning: Keep your upper body straight, shoulders back and relaxed.
Head positioning: Keep your chin up. Find a place to look at, on or near the ceiling and stare at it while executing the lunge.
Execution: Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about 90 degrees. Your front knee should be directly above your ankle and not pushed out too far. The other knee should be just above the ground ,but not touching.
Completion: After executing the exercise, keep your weight in your heels while pushing back into the starting position.
Body positioning: Your upper body and arms should be relaxed and your feet should be together.
Head positioning: Your head should also be relaxed while looking straight ahead.
Execution: When ready to execute the exercise, lift your heels off the ground slowly so that all of your weight is on your toes. Hold this position for one to five seconds.
Completion: After execution, slowly lower your heels back to the ground and repeat.
After completing these exercises, it is important to stretch the muscles you’ve used. Quadriceps, hamstrings, the groin and calves are the main muscles that should be stretched after a leg workout. Stretching may increase flexibility, energy, range of motion and can cause a relaxed state of mind. It can also prevent tightening of the muscles and help avoid future injury.
Start slow: When executing the exercise count your repetitions until you have reached a point where it becomes challenging. Complete two more sets of the same number of repetitions. After doing these sets for a while, you will notice they will become easier to do. For more of a challenge, increase repetition, amount of sets or additional weight to the exercise. Hold the stretches for 30 to 60 seconds without bouncing.