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Squats are a simple, versatile and functional exercise that targets your gluteus muscles, hamstrings, quads, and lower back. Performing squats increases lower body strength and joint flexibility. The knees, hips, lower back and ankles are all working during the squatting motion. Add some weights to work the muscles of the upper body, too. Ball squats are one variation that supports the back as you perform a squat, but you can also do many alternative exercises to ball squats. Best of all, you don't need a gym to perform these exercises.
The basic squat is a beginner-level exercise that works all the major muscle groups of the legs. Start by standing with your eyes focused straight ahead, torso upright, and your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Raise your arms up straight out in front of you at shoulder height so you can maintain balance. Pretend that you're going to sit in a chair. In a slow and controlled manner, lower down and press the weight in your heels until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your head facing forward, back flat and abdominal muscles tight as you lower into the basic squat position. Do not allow your knees to go over your toes to avoid injuring your knees. Begin with one set of 10 repetitions and gradually add more repetitions once you get stronger and master the form and technique.
Stability ball Wall Lunge
Performing a lunge with a stability ball is a more difficult leg exercise. However, using a stability ball to perform the lunge will help increase the effectiveness of the exercise and improve your balance and posture. Stability ball lunges work your hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps. Begin by standing in front of a wall, facing out and put the ball between the wall and your lower back. Place one foot in front of you and one foot back against the wall. You may have to adjust your stance when you perform the lunge so your knee on the front leg does not go over your toes. Slowly lower into the lunge until your thigh is parallel to the floor, or as far as you can go, and allow the ball to roll up your back as you lower into the lunge to keep you balanced. Go back to the start position in a slow, steady and controlled manner. Keep your abs engaged and do not lean forward. Start with 10 repetitions on each leg and slowly work up to 15 repetitions on each leg when you're ready to do so. To progress, hold 5-to 8-pound dumbbells in each hand.
The Plie Squat targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and especially your inner thighs. Position your feet so they are roughly three feet apart and turn your toes out. Slowly lower into the pliГ© squat, keeping your hands on your hips and your hips back. Lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, hold for a second or two, and then slowly return to the start position. Go for one set of 12 repetitions and slowly progress to 15 repetitions as you get stronger. Add 3-to 5-pound weights to make it more difficult.
Static Wall Squats
Static Wall squats are an isometric exercise that helps to balance and strengthen your leg muscles, especially for sports-related training like running or hiking. Begin with your back against a wall, and keep your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and slowly slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are over your shoe laces. Hold for at least 30 seconds or longer, if you can. Do one to three repetitions. For more challenge, hold for 30 seconds or longer on one leg, or alternate between lifting your right heal for five seconds and then your left to work your calf muscles. Or, you can hold dumbbells in each hand. Always challenge yourself so you can keep progressing and getting stronger.