Build strength and stability throughout your entire lower body with these simple but effective exercises.
By K. Aleisha Fetters, C.S.C.S.
Your legs and hips are the foundation of a strong, capable body.
Think about it: They help you get up from a chair, take the stairs in stride, and prevent falls. That’s why integrating workouts for your lower body into your exercise routine is so important.
This workout uses functional movement patterns to strengthen all of the muscles in your hips and legs. So the more you do it, the more it will help you perform everyday tasks with ease.
How the Strong-Foundation Workout Works
With each exercise, prioritize quality over quantity. At the end of each set, you should feel like you could do one or two more reps, but no more than that. If you feel like you could knock out three extra reps with good form, that’s your cue to increase the amount of resistance you use for that exercise.
Do all sets of each exercise before moving to the next, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between each.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to perform each movement. As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
And if this workout doesn’t work for you or you want to mix things up, you have other options as part of the SilverSneakers Million Pound Challenge. You can take a SilverSneakers class or other group fitness class that incorporates strength training, or try this week’s strength move for walkers.
Exercise #1: Hip Hinge
Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hands on hips. Brace your core—imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach. Without changing the position of your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor (or as far as you can comfortably go without rounding your back).
Pause, then lift your torso back to the starting position. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward to lift your torso back to the starting position. This ensures you’re engaging your hip muscles instead of relying on your lower back. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #2: Squat
Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, and brace your core. This is your starting position.
From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause, then push through your heels to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #3: Stationary Lunge
Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side
Stand tall with your arms down at your sides. Step back with your right foot, placing your toes on the ground and keeping your heel lifted.
From this staggered stance, bend your front (left) knee to slowly lower your body as far as comfortable. Allow your back knee to bend as well until it hovers a few inches above the floor, but keep your weight pressed into your front heel. Place your hands on your hips, draw your lower belly in, and lift your chest.
Pause, then press through your front foot to raise your body back to standing. That’s one rep. Perform six to eight reps, then switch sides and repeat. Complete a total of three sets, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #4: Glute Bridge
Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Press your arms into the floor for support, and brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back.
From here, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders. As you get stronger, focus on getting your shins as close to vertical as you comfortably can at the top of the movement. Pause, then slowly lower your hips to return to starting position. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Exercise #5: Seated Band Abduction
Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Sit tall in a chair with your feet about shoulder-width apart and an exercise band tied just above your knees so that the band is taut, but not stretched.
Keeping your body stationary, push your knees out against the band as far as you can. Pause, and then release. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Looking for more lower-body exercises? Watch the video below.