Strength week: five tips to increase your leg strength

Leg strength is at the base of everything you do. If you can build strong, powerful legs then it will be the base for total body fitness.
Building strong legs also takes harder work than exercising the upper body.
It will take determination, lots of sweat and sacrifice to build powerhouse legs, but it will be worth it in the end.
Here are five tips to increase your leg strength:
1. Squats, squats, squats – If your back and knees will allow it, many fitness experts agree that squats are the single most important exercise you can do.
Make sure to use proper form, keeping your back as straight as possible as you go down and don’t go past parallel.
Good form is the key on squats. Work with a trainer or ask an experienced lifter for help if just starting. Start out light and get the form down, possibly doing sets with 95 pounds or 135 on the Olympic bar until you get it down. Start out doing 10-12 reps for sets of three or four.
If you’re just starting out, you should be able to gain strength quickly. For intermediate lifters, a good way to increase your maximum squat is to do heavy weights and low reps – 5 sets of 5 -on occasion.
2. Leg curls – Don’t forget to work the hamstrings hard – the “other half” of your upper legs. You can also do stiff-leg deadlifts and good-mornings can be helpful, too. These complementary lifts will work the back also, but are good tie-ins between your glute-ham complex, lower back and core. The extra support will be needed when your weights increase.
3. Auxiliary lifts – There are lots of auxiliary lifts you can work in too, depending on your goals. Lifts like angled leg presses, deadlifts, calf raises and leg extensions will help. Functional trainers can help train legs in many different ways.
4. Stretch it out – Make sure to stretch well as you progress to help the legs grow and avoid injury.
5. Stay well-rounded – Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder, most likely you want to stay athletic as you build muscle strength. Cross train your legs with activities like bike riding, jogging, tennis, basketball, and swimming.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at