One of the most important muscle groups in your body are the leg muscles. I refer to these as the foundation of the body.
As a diabetic you are all too familiar with the many lower body complications that can accompany this disease. They include leg cramps, claudicating and the ‘tingling in feet’ or pinpricking sensation caused by poor circulation. Many of the leg exercises described below are aimed at lessening these complications.
If you are pre-diabetic, you can prevent many diabetic complications from happening to you by doing the various exercises described below. Visit how to prevent pre-diabetes for more information.
There are four major muscle groups in the lower body: the gluteus (buttocks area) , quadriceps (quads for short), the hamstrings and calf muscles
Gluteus/quads/hamstring muscle exercises
The following exercises will work all three muscle groups.
Lets start with the buttocks muscles or as they are affectionately called the ‘glutes’. Everyone wants a tight, muscle toned butt and that’s what this program is for, but it’s going to take some consistent work. Your butt didn’t get soft and flabby overnight so you have to train them longer and harder to see good results.
Don’t forget: A good cardio routine will also help to tone and maintain your glutes as well as the rest of the leg muscles.
Proper squatting position
The first exercise is the squat. Contrary to popular belief squats are easy to learn. It’s natural for the body to get into a squatting position. Every time you sit down and standup you are doing a modified squat. After adhering to a few safety rules you can progress from chair squats to using actual weights.
Rules for squatting includes:
- Maintaining a straight back.
- Keep your head up and focus your eyes on object at standing eye level.
- Don’t let your knees go too far beyond your feet in the squat position.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet. Toes should be pointed in their natural position – slightly outward.
- Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Don’t rest the bar on your neck but across your upper shoulders.
- Perform squats only once per week.
Let’s begin with the chair movements. Stand in front of a sturdy, straight back chair, facing away from the chair. Holding your hands straight out in front of you, sit and stand a few times. You may need to assist your self by holding the chair at first, and that’s ok. After repeating this exercise a few times you will get the hang it. Do five repetitions and rest. You should be able to do five sets.
After doing the chair exercise for a couple of weeks you can move to the next stage – using a straight bar with weights at a squat rack or machine.
When doing freestanding squats, make your self as comfortable as possible. By following the guidelines listed above you can prevent tingling in feet and legs. Use light enough weights to allow you to do eight to ten repetitions.
A weight-lifting belt may help to protect your lower back from injury when doing squats. Just remember you can do this.
The next glute exercise is the dead lift. You can use dumbbells or a straight bar. While standing, bend over and grasp weights. If using a straight bar, hold it at shoulder width.
Dead lift using dumbbells
Bend knees slightly and keeping your back as straight as possible, raise and lower weights to floor for one repetition. In this exercise you are using your hips to move the weights. Maintain proper form throughout the movement. Be sure to use light weights or even just the bar by itself until you get use to the movement.
Lunges are an excellent exercise for hitting the buttocks area. They will also target your quadriceps muscles.
To perform lunges – place a weighted bar across the back of your shoulders or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your chest up and look straight ahead. Put your right leg forward as if taking a long stride. Begin to slowly bend your knees as your lower your hips. Bend low enough so that your rear knee is almost touching the floor. Slowly straighten your legs and raise your body back to a standing position. You can do eight to ten reps on each leg for one set or you can alternate legs for each rep. Be sure that your knees do not go past your toes in the down position. You might want to practice doing these without weights since your balance comes into play. Doing lunges will be sure to help in getting rid of the ‘tingling in feet’ and legs.
To help you get a tight butt, you must add leg curls to your lower body workout routine. To do this exercise you will need to find a leg curl machine in your gym. Ask someone there to point it out and to demonstrate how to use it.
The key to performing leg curls is to do a full range of motion. This means that you must straighten your legs at the bottom of the movement. As you raise your legs by pulling your knees backward, you want to squeeze the buttocks and hamstring muscles. Bring your legs back as far as possible and squeeze for a second at the top, then lower your legs for one repetition. The exercise is similar to doing an arm curl. Do eight to ten repetitions. Three sets of this exercise are good for now.
Leg curls are the most effective exercise for targeting the hamstrings at the back of your thighs.
Squats and lunges are the best exercises for the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh area.
A great shaping exercise for the quads is the leg extensions. You might need to ask someone to point out this machine on the gym floor. The movements are very basic. Get comfortable on the machine by adjusting the seat and length of the extension. Use light weights that will allow you to do ten to fifteen repetitions. Do a full range of motion for each rep. Squeeze the quads at the top of the movement. Three sets are more than enough.
To really help with the circulation and ‘tingling in feet’ and legs you will need to do calf exercises.
Most gyms are equipped with a calf machine. If not you can always improvise. Adjust the machine to accommodate your legs. Squeeze the calves at the top of the movement for an effective pump. Do three sets of fifteen repetitions. Your calves should be fully pumped after that.
Calves can also be done at home by doing standing calf raises. These are very basic leg exercises. To do them – hold on to the back of a sturdy chair and raise your body on tippy toes. They can be performed using both legs or one at a time. Do four sets of ten repetitions and rest. As you get better at doing these, graduate to unaided calf raises (no chair support).
Remember to stretch your leg muscles at least three to four days per week. Stretching will help to keep them flexible and toned and reduce the tingling in feet and legs.
There are variations to the above leg routines but these are the core exercises for developing strong, shapely butt and legs. You won’t need to exercise them more than once per week.
For more information on reversing type 2 diabetes see exercises for diabetics today.
To your best health