Building Strength + Lower Body Exercise Cheat Sheet

Since I joined a gym last fall, I’ve added back in some strength training. A few years ago I was regularly lifting weights, but for whatever reason I quit…I think it was around the time I started marathon and triathlon training. Looking back, I probably should have kept it haha! Here’s ‘Bianca circa 2014’…

Anyway, if you follow me on Instagram or if you’ve read my goals for 2018, you know strength is a big focus for me this year. I want to feel strong, gain a bit more muscle tone, gain running speed from said muscle, and high in importance is avoid injury by strengthening weak areas. Anyone remember when I got a referral to see a sports medicine doctor back in the fall of 2014?

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I was thrilled that I didn’t have a stress fracture, but I was frustrated by the fact that I was basically told I had Pes Anserine Bursitis and it can happen from weak hamstrings, among other reasons. I was given some strengthening exercises and it did eventually go away, but would come and go often. After having that pain return on Christmas Eve, I knew strength had to be one of my top priorities in 2018 (thankfully, it has since dissipated!).

To reach my goal, I am taking HIIT classes at the gym which focus on strength (and cardio), as well as lifting weights and doing body weight exercises. Some of the exercises and lifting I can easily do at home, and you can to! Most of it just require some dumbbells.

I made a little cheat sheet and it’s hung up in my home gym for when I need some guidance through a specific workout (I have it on my phone for when I’m at the gym).

These exercises were pulled from Pinterest and combined into this collage, and I added some text for exercises without diagrams. The smith machine I have now is actually a “smith combo”, so it’s got some cables and that’s what I’m referencing. However, the first three listed under the Smith Machine could easily be done with resistance bands too. I like to use resistance bands for the fire hydrant and glute bridges. I use them for clams too, and a few others that are listed on a cheat sheet that came with the resistance bands I purchased on Amazon.

Here’s a picture of that:

While the sheet below focuses mostly on hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves, there are some others I like for inner thigh that aren’t on the sheet like sumo jumps, and the lying side leg lift like I’m doing in the picture below. The sumo plié squats that are listed in the text on the sheet are great for thighs too.

Here’s my lower body cheat sheet:


If you were looking for some strength exercises for the lower body, I hope you try these. One thing about strength workouts that I like is that I don’t seem to get bored with them. I think keeping up with these this year will be beneficial for my running and overall wellness.

What are some of your favorite lower body strength exercises?

I’ll be sharing my upper body and ab exercise cheat sheet soon, so keep your eyes 👀 open.


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