Simple Program Design: Lower Body

Not too long ago I posted a simple template to create an effective upper body program. Since we all know we have more than just our upper body (unless your one of the “bros” at most commercial gyms that only benches and curls) I figured it would only be right to do the same for the lower body. This post is very similar to the upper body post – the way you train the upper body and the lower body shouldn’t be all that different.

The first issue to look at when trying to design a lower body strength training program is the movements that you are training. The keep things simple, there are essentially only two lower body movement patterns you need to focus on; knee dominant and hip dominant. But to take things a step further, I feel that though it is still the same movement pattern, single leg exercises could/should have their own classification. Therefore I am going to go with the premise that there are four lower body movement patterns that we need to focus on; bilateral knee dominant, bilateral hip dominant, single leg knee dominant, and single leg hip dominant.

The second issue we need to look at is what exercises fall into what movement category. Here are basic exercises that fall into each category – there are obviously more movements, these are just some basics that everyone knows;

Knee Dominant – Bilateral

  • Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Goblet Squat

Knee Dominant – Single Leg

  • Split Squat
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
  • Lunge
  • Single Leg Squat

Hip Dominant – Bilateral

  • Good Morning
  • RDL
  • Deadlift
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Glut-Ham Raise –> VIDEO

Hip Dominant – Single Leg

  • Single Leg RDL
  • Single Leg Swiss Ball Curl
  • Single Leg Hip Bridge –> VIDEO
  • Single Leg Slide Board Curl

The stay with the trend of the article and keep thing simple, I would recommend picking one exercise from each grouping. From there keep your sets and reps simple as well. 3 sets of 6-8 reps or 3 sets of 8-10 reps is simple yet effective. Here’s a sample program so that you can see it actually written out;

Squat – 3 x 6-8

Lunge – 3 x 8-10

RDL – 3 x 6-8

Single Leg Swiss Ball Curl – 3 x 8-10


Front Squat – 3 x 6-8

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – 3 x 8-10

Trap Bar Deadlift – 3 x 6-8

Single Leg RDL – 3 x 8-10

There you have it, a simple lower body training program. I would recommend training your lower body twice a week by putting together 2 different training programs and switching off each time you hit the gym. After 4-6 weeks, change things up a bit and continue moving forward.

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