Standing Exercises That Build Power in Your Legs

By Hayley Townsend |

Your legs do a lot for you. Make sure they’re strong and powerful with these standing, rotational exercises.

Rotation starts at your core. Adding a rotational twist to lower body exercises will enhance the moves to engage more muscles and improve your overall strength and power.

Progress slowly as you move through these exercises. Start with a small range of movement. As you feel more comfortable, you can expand that range to pump up the intensity.

As always, safety is key. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

1. Rotational Squat

Stand tall with your feet spread hip-distance apart. Then, step your left foot back so that your left toes are pointing toward the left wall and your right toes are pointing forward. (Your legs should resemble an “L” shape.) Next, bend your knees and sit back into a gentle squat. As you straighten your knees to push yourself back up, step your left foot up beside your right, toes facing forward. Perform 3-5 rotational squats on both sides of the body.

2. Rotational Lunge

Stand tall with your feet spread hip-distance apart. Then, step your left foot back so that your left toes are pointing to the left wall and your right toes are pointing forward. Next, shift your body weight toward your left leg, bend your left knee and push your hips back. Then, straighten your left knee, push yourself up to standing and step your left foot up beside your right with toes pointing forward. Perform 3-5 rotational lunges with your left foot back, then your right.

3. Curtsy Lunge

Anchor your left foot to the floor, then step your right foot behind your left. Feel free to use a chair for balance support. Then, bend both knees and sink down. Next, straighten your legs to push yourself back up to standing. Repeat 3-5 curtsy lunges with your right foot back, then with your left foot back.

4. Heel Raise with Twist

Stand tall with your feet spread apart at a normal, comfortable distance for you. Then, lift both heels from the floor and pivot on the balls of your feet to push both of your feet to the left side and twist your upper body toward the left. Then, press your heels to the floor, bend your knees and sink down into a gentle squat. Next, lift both heels and pivot to the right side. Drop your heels to the ground, sink into a gentle squat and twist your upper body toward the right side of the room. Alternate 3-5 heel lifts on both sides.

5. Front Crouch

Step your right foot forward and lift the heel of your left foot. Then, bend both knees and reach your left hand toward the floor. Next, straighten your knees to push yourself up to standing and step your right foot back beside your left. Then, step your left foot forward and lift the heel of your right foot. Bend your knees, sink down and reach your right hand toward the floor. Straighten your knees and push yourself upstanding, then step your left foot back beside your right. Alternate 3-5 front crouch moves with your right foot forward and then with your left foot forward.

6. Reverse Lunge + Rotation

For this exercise, you may want to perform these moves beside a sturdy chair for balance support. Anchor your right foot to the floor, step your left foot back (generously) and raise your left heel from the floor. Keep your chest up and back tall, then bend both knees and sink straight down toward the floor. Your right knee should be aligned with your right ankle. Then, rotate your torso and upper body toward the right side of the room. Next, move your upper body to face forward again, straighten your knees and step your left foot up beside your right. Perform 3-5 reverse lunges with your left foot stepped back and then with your right foot stepped back.

Modification: Instead of returning both feet to center between each reverse lunge: Hold in your reverse lunge position, twist to the right, then twist back to facing forward and repeat this twist 4 times before stepping your left foot up beside your right. Then, repeat the sequence with your right foot back and twist to the left side 4 times.

7. Decoy Squat

Keep both of your knees gently bent as you perform decoy squats. First, anchor your right foot to the floor. Then, step your left foot back so that your left toes are pointing to the left wall and your right toes are pointing forward. Rotate your torso toward the right side of the room. Then, step your left foot up beside your right. Next, step your right foot back so that your right toes are pointing to the right wall and your left toes are pointing forward. Rotate your torso toward the left side of the room. Then, step your right foot back to center. Alternate 3-5 decoy squats twisting to the right and then the left side of the room.

Incorporate one or more of these moves in your weekly exercise routine to boost your lower body strength and build power. For more standing exercises, try these moves that tone your legs and butt.

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