Favorite Lower Body Workouts

The secret to fixing bad knees is to strengthen your lower body (for me, specifically, it was the glutes). Read this post:  A Runner and Her Injuries. It has a lot of good physical therapy-type exercises to fix some of those types of injuries. Or this one: R is for Runner’s Knee.

I avoid lunges at all costs. I used to do them a lot and I’d be crippled for days (hamstrings) but I kept telling myself it was a good thing. Then I started having knee issues…too many rounds of physical therapy to count, I stopped doing lunges at the advice of several physical therapists. They all said lunges were not the best exercise for someone with knee issues. So…I stopped. I do sometimes do side lunges, which don’t bother my knees.

Here are some of the standard exercises that I rotate through my weekly weight routines:


I go back and forth between doing weighted squats with a bar or just doing body squats. Both are very effective and help me a lot. It’s good for your glutes, hamstrings, core strength, helps with flexibility and strengthens your entire lower body. It really is one of the perfect exercises you can do. Just make sure you do it right. I was slightly off when I first started doing squats but a quick chat and demonstration with a trainer fixed that for me.

20120530183534-squat properly

1 Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve raved about this exercise many times on the blog. It has helped me a lot with my knee issues and it’s a really good move to incorporate into your gym session. It’s effective and it doesn’t put as much stress/pressure on your back like a regular deadlift can. It works the glutes, hamstrings and hips. Done correctly it’s also a good core workout. What I find beneficial is that it also helps with balance. I notice when I take a break from doing this exercise and then start back up again–balance is gone! But if I do this move consistently in my workouts, my balance improves!

10 Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Slam Ball

This a fun exercise! I love it and need to do it more often. Like jump squats (see below), this one ALWAYS makes me a little extra sore when I do it. It works your core: abs, back, quads and glutes. You’re basically doing a squat with a heavy ball. It’s such a good workout!


Leg Press Machine

I started incorporating this machine in my routine after a physical therapist recommended it. He had me do it in a few different ways. First, the normal way–both feet on the platform. Second, he had me practice doing it one-legged. That is a LOT harder than it looks! And it WORKS. It helped my knee stuff so much. It focused the work on my glutes one at a time. I prefer this machine:


Over the one that you lay down on. Although, now that I’m pregnant I’m finding it harder and harder to do this machine so I will soon be switching to the leg press machine you use laying down.


Here is another physical therapy exercise that has worked it’s way into my fitness routine. My physical therapist had me do this to strengthen my glutes to fix my knee issues. I found it so beneficial that I kept doing it even after I got better. It’s really easy and all you need is a stretchy band. SideHopsWithRB1

Standing Hip Adduction

Another one that started because of physical therapy…noticing a theme? My knees needed work!! This one strengthened my glutes and hips and helped with overall balance. If the machine at your gym doesn’t have the attachment seen below in this picture, you can still do it. My gym doesn’t have this ankle strap so I just put my foot through the round hand piece. It works because my feet are kind of small.

Standing Cable Hip Adduction

Step Up with Weights

I like this one because it gets my heart beating pretty quick and it’s kind of a full-body exercise. I wanted to include it, though, because I’ve noticed it’s helped me with balance and strength. I do it slightly differently–I step up, then I do a bicep curl, then step back down. You can vary this exercise a lot but it’s a good base if you want something basic. You can use a taller step, you can add more weight, you can lift your leg like the below picture:


Lots of variations!

Squat Jump

This one will get you EVERY TIME. So be prepared. No matter how many squats you normally do in the gym, do a bunch of jump squats and you WILL BE SORE. I started doing this workout at The Warrior Room and then incorporated it into my own gym routine. Seriously, I don’t know why this one makes me so sore, but it doesn’t matter if I do 10 or if do 50. Same level of soreness afterwards! But you sure feel like a badass when you do it! If you have knee issues, you might want to talk to your doctor first. Listen to your body and stop if it hurts. It rarely hurt my knees, but I was always conscious of it and made sure I didn’t land too hard when I jumped.


What about you? What are some of your favorite lower body workouts?

Couch to 5k Update #2

I took a week and a half off from training/running recently. A hike we went on that was a lot steeper than I was hoping and my everything hurt for a good week–shins, knees, quads. I knew enough about my body and injury history to chill out for awhile and go easy. I decided after the mini break that I needed to repeat Week 3. I ended up repeating Week 3 a few times in fact!

A reader, Denise, left a great comment on the last post: “I love the C25K until I get to week 5. I think it’s just too big of a jump by going from running 8 straight minutes to running 20 minutes (for a true beginner). I have repeated weeks but always get stuck at this point.” I was so grateful she let me know so I could pay attention to that and modify if needed.

I also downloaded a FREE Couch25K app that prompts you when it’s time to walk, etc. I didn’t like the free one so I ended up buying one for $1.99. The free one was very limited and only the first two weeks–plus it didn’t let me listen to my music. The one I bought works great! You can choose the voice (which is limited in your options) that prompts you.



It shows very clearly what stage you are in and what is next up. The prompt is SO helpful. When I was doing the C25K program without the app before, I struggled because I’d forget that I  had to walk! So far I am happy that I bought the app.

Week 3 (repeated)

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday – 1.85 jog/walk/run on treadmill in 29 minutes, followed by weight lifting

Wednesday – Warrior Room -1/2 Isolation, 1/2 Tabata class

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – 1.25 mile swim

Saturday – Weights followed by

Sunday – Yoga


Week 3 (Again)

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday – Kettle Bell Condition class at the Warrior Room

Wednesday – Elliptical 2.5 miles

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Elliptical 1.85 miles followed by yoga

Saturday – Weight lifting followed by 1.75 miles on treadmill

Sunday – Swimming

I ordered some new workout clothes from The Clymb–it’s a discount website. I’m happy with the compression tights I got and also a new shirt. The shirt has air “vents” on the side, which is nice. The tights are also nice but they are thermal so a little warmer than I would like. They’d be perfect for a cold morning workout outside but rather uncomfortable for hot weather or in the gym. The tights are “Skins Bio A200 Thermal Long Tights” and the shirt is a “Short-Sleeved Ventilator Web Top.”


I was still working on week 3–It seems like I’ve done Week 3 about 3 times now and still haven’t completed it. I don’t know why but I only do about 1 or 2 of the scheduled runs in week 3 and still haven’t been able to do that third run.

Week 3 (LAST TIME!)

Sunday – yoga

Monday – 4.25 mile hike

Tuesday – Rest Day

Wednesday – 1.95 miles on the treadmill followed by some weight lifting

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – swim 1.25 miles

Saturday – weightlifting and then 1.82 miles on the treadmill

I will tell you that the next update will NOT be more Week 3. 🙂 I am happy to be back running again. I’m glad I decided to do this program. It’s a very different feeling to be so structured but I am already seeing the benefits of it.