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Lunges are a versatile knee-dominant exercise.
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In knee-dominant exercises, such as squats, lunges, step-ups and leg presses, the generation of force is greater at the knee joint than at the hip. The muscles that are the most challenged surround the knee and help to flex and extend the knee. These exercises can be further sub-divided into single- and double-leg exercises. Single-leg exercises develop stability and balance and typically require your body weight or lighter weights. Perform five to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as jogging or jumping jacks, as a warm-up for knee-dominant exercises.
King of Lower-Body Training
Because they use almost every muscle in your body and integrate your core musculature, glutes and legs, squats are one of the effective knee-dominant exercises to build lower-body strength. Among the many types of squats are front squats, back squats, split squats, hack squats and Bulgarian split squats. To do hack squats, begin by placing a barbell on supports, choosing a height for which you have to bend your knees slightly to get under the weight. Position the bar across the back of your traps and shoulders, not your neck. Take hold of the bar with an overhand grip, hands spaced wide apart. With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand up and lift the bar from the rack. Inhale in the erect position and then bend your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. You should look as if you're sitting in an invisible chair. Exhale and bring the weight back up to the starting position. Perform three sets of three reps.
Develop Might With a Machine
The movement pattern of a leg press on a machine resembles that of the squat. Because you don't have to control the weight, you can use a heavier load and challenge the strength level of your lower body. Begin a leg press by sitting in the leg-press station with your body against the pad and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly push the pad until your knees are fully extended but not locked. Hold the peak position for a second and then return to the starting position. If you angle your toes outward, you'll shift the pressure to your inner thighs. Perform six to eight reps for three sets.
Single-Leg Strength and Stability
There are three types of knee-dominant exercises that build single-leg strength; these include lunges, step-ups and single-leg squats. Because so many sports require single-leg strength, these exercises help to develop functional strength. To do reverse lunges, begin with a barbell set across your traps and the backs of your shoulders. Stand with feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Take a large stride backward with your left leg, touching the floor with the ball of your foot. Shifting half of your weight to your back foot, simultaneously lower your body into the lunge position until the bent knee of your left leg is about inch or two off the ground. Your right knee should form a 90-degree angle. Push off with your right leg and return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 12 reps for one to three sets.
Explosive Power With Jumps
Plyometric jumping exercises in which you take advantage of a muscle's stretch-shortening property can help to build lower-body explosive power. Add a jump to a loaded squat to dramatically improve lower-body strength. Begin in the same starting position as you used for back squats, holding a barbell against your traps and backs of your shoulders with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and hips to a quarter-squat, preparing to jump, and then explode up toward the ceiling. Use your calves to push off the floor and straighten your body. Try and land on the balls of your feet, shifting your weight to your heels, and bend your knees. Do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds for three sets.