Not all exercises are created equal

Tuesday October 7, 2014

Written by: Dustin Buttars, Fitness Director

Try 3 alternative lower body exercises in place of some common machines to improve your balance, strength and functional fitness.

1. Seated Hip Abductor/Adductor
The seated abductor/adductor machine strengthens the gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. While this is true, they are not the most transferable exercises to daily life and also may lead to a tight IT band. A better alternative would be to do a standing single leg balance exercise with your knee slightly bent, or for more difficulty, a one-legged squat. Not only does the single leg stance strengthen the muscles the seated hip abductor/adductor claim to, but it improves your balance concurrently.  Lunges are another great alternative that simultaneously work the inner and outer thighs while also improving balance and general lower body strength.

2. Lying Leg Press
To build muscular strength, multi-joint movements are a necessity in any strength training program. The lying leg press is a great exercise for building muscular strength, but there are some alternative exercises that will accomplish this and more. Try the Goblet Squat: grab a dumbbell you can hold at chest height with your hands that is slightly challenging and perform a basic squat. Not only does this exercise build strength in the lower body, but it improves dynamic balance and strengthens the shoulders and arms simultaneously. Not only does the Goblet Squat help build strength, but it is a more transferable activity to daily life. If you need guidance, grab a fitness instructor to demonstrate proper form.

3. Standing Calf Raise
Calves are important for many activities such as climbing stairs and jumping, however they contribute the least to the majority of the exercises they are actively involved in. Loading the spine with a significant amount of weight to strengthen a muscle at the opposite end of the body puts unnecessary strain on the vertebral column. Instead grab a dumbbell or kettlebell, stand on a step and perform one legged calf raises. This alternative will strengthen the calves independently promoting better balance and coordination.