Chad the Trainer's 2/7/13 Live-Chat: Lower Body Exercises


Thank you to everyone who participated in our February live-chat on our Facebook Page! Here are the questions and answers from our "lower body exercises" live-chat. These chats are conducted monthly on the Snap Fitness Facebook Page at!


Cheryl Westendorf Rasmussen Advice for regaining stomach muscles after 2 emergency C-sections.... a little rush was required and they were not careful...sit-ups and crunches are out due to a past neck injury.

Chad TheTrainer Cheryl, this is tough due to the fact that they actually cut through the muscles. To work slowly back with your neck injury you may want to try to do some leg lifts where your neck will be stationary. Hanging, bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle with your body. You can have your feet hanging down or straight out for more pressure. Try three sets of 15 to 20 or as much as possible without pain. Make sure to keep your nutrition in check as that is about 70% of you having a good looking mid-section. Best of luck!

Nicholas Gurto How do I lose inches on legs and stomach?

Chad TheTrainer Nickolas- Losing inches is a combination of nutrition, cardio, and strength training. I would try doing an upper body workout twice per week and a lower body workout three times per week. Try doing 5 days a week of cardiovascular exercise for 20 - 30 minutes to help burn stored fat which will reduce inches. Log into your account under “My Nutrition.” You can create a custom Nutrition and Vitamin plan that will help you figure out what to eat. This is the most important part of losing inches.

Sandy Beltrani How many times a week should you train your lower body - for a female age 42 who is at snap 6x a week? Cardio everyday for 40 and then weights, how would you divide it up?

Chad TheTrainer Sandy- Try doing a light warm-up, doing your weights first and finishing with 40 minutes of cardio. I would do your legs two days per week on Tuesdays and Fridays to add for adequate rest in-between sets. Try keeping your repetitions high in the 15- 20 range. Otherwise your plan looks pretty solid. Keep it up!

Tracy Beck I need some new lower ab exercises. Got any advice on some great ones?

Chad TheTrainer Tracy- Two things you can do. One is to pull your knees back towards your body when you are doing crunches to hit the lower part simultaneous with the upper part. The bigger the angle the more pressure, so hanging from a bar and pulling your knees back toward your body to 90 degrees is the best. If you straighten out your legs you will get more pressure on the muscle for more efficiency.

Melanie Kordis-Pate I have a question about lunges. I have bad knees (past surgery and instability). I like what lunges do for my legs and tush...any hints/tips/ideas for me?

Chad TheTrainer Melanie- Instead of doing walking lunges where you have more risk of balance injuries I would try something that keeps your body somewhat stationary. Try using the smith machine for your lunges. With your body vertical to the ground place one foot in front of you and one behind you. Make sure when you move the weight downward that the bend at both knees is at 90 degrees. If you break that 90 degree plane your will put most of the pressure on your knee cap and have a great risk of injury. Once you build up your strength you can progress to walking lunges. Best of luck!

Jennifer Thesing I get bored with calf raises... any other recommended exercises for calf work?

Chad TheTrainer Jennifer- There are really only two ways to work your calves. You have standing calf raises and seated calf raises. When you are standing you are working your gastrocnemius which is the upper part of your calf. When you are bent at the knee completing a seated calf raise you hit the tibialis (front) and soleus (underneath he gastrocnemius). The StairMaster and running will also work the muscle (toning) but not build it too much.

Josh Harris I've been trying to increase my distance running. Once I get to about a mile or so my calves and feet seem to get numb and the front of my calves cramp and it goes down into my feet. Is there a lift to possibly strengthen my specific problem?

Chad TheTrainer Josh- You can strengthen the muscles in your legs including calves but the main issue you have is flexibility and hydration. Make sure after a short warm-up run you stop to stretch your calves, thighs, and hamstrings. Also make sure you have a good balance of potassium and vitamins and are drinking water throughout the day especially after exercise.

Cindy Rogers-Sell When using the weight machine for crunches at 30lbs how many reps do you suggest for a beginner?

Chad TheTrainer Cindy- I wouldn't focus so much on how many reps to do at 30 pounds. I would focus on how much weight you need to keep your repetitions around 20 to 25. I like to do lighter high repetition crunches every other day so my abdominals can recover. Try doing three sets to failure every other day you work out.

Kathi Ann Brown My time on the cycling machines at SNAP doesn't seem to translate to my road bike, even when I'm pushing hard and sweating like mad doing the hilly or varied terrain programs. Why don't I feel stronger on my real bike after a winter of effort indoors?

Chad TheTrainer Kathi- Do you feel like you maintain from the summer or that you just aren't getting better? You may see more similar results by using a "spin bike" versus a regular stationary bike. Remember that you are dealing with the elements such as the weather and it isn't the same. I would try more strength training on the lower body for your thighs to help with your regular season racing:)

Julie Poyer-Maki I’m having trouble losing "the jiggle" on my inner thighs-ideas??
Sean Greaves What's the best way to tone and lose fat on the inner thigh??
Bridget Nicholas What are ways to tone my inner thighs??
Julie Davis Pearce Hi, Chad - need to firm up inner thighs - I'm a marathoner and otherwise thin/ in good shape. . . But hate my thighs! Have tried goblet squats, clam shells, etc. to no avail. . .

Chad TheTrainer Julie, Sean, Bridget, and Julie- Toning the inner thighs or thighs in general is a combination of working your quadriceps and hamstrings to add more muscle mass and hence tighten the skin around the area. By doing consistent cardiovascular exercise you will burn more stored body fat and help reduce fat in that area. Try doing squats, leg extensions and leg curls to work the muscles needed to help this area.

Cindy 'Rootes' Hoffman I have lost 76lbs, and I am now trying to tighten up loose/sagging skin (tummy) & tone up my mid-section. What can I do to accomplish this?

Chad TheTrainer Cindy-  Congratulations on losing 76 pounds.  That is a huge deal!  Although you can increase your muscle mass to stretch out the skin a bit it will probably take some medical action to get what I think you are trying to achieve.  You can definitely trim down your mid-section more with proper diet and exercise but the skin that has been stretched out so much will probably need to be removed.  Before speaking with a doctor about this I would try to drop your body fat down a few percentages to see if the skin is just formed around excess fat.  If you lose this body fat you may see the skin start to disappear as well.  Make sure you are getting 4 – 5 days of cardiovascular exercise in with at least 3 days of weight training.  Best of luck!

Viri Islas I never seem to have the time to even think about making it to the gym and with a new baby it’s not as easy. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the belly from home?

Chad TheTrainer Viri- The main thing you can do to get rid of the belly and body weight from home is to change your eating habits and try some "home" exercises. Log into your account. Click on “My Nutrition” and you can register to get a free custom nutrition plan and vitamin plan. Then click on “My Workouts” and try building a custom yoga plan you can use from home. Try this as nutrition is about 70% of the battle.

Peter Cheng Moua I am trying to go up in weight; what are the best exercises for leg workouts and also would it be ok to run every day still, or just once a week to avoid losing too many calories?

Chad TheTrainer Peter- First, if you are trying to gain size and strength in your legs I would keep your cardio to a minimum but keep it to an elliptical so you don't lose muscle mass on your legs. I would also try to avoid all cardio on leg day. For legs keep your staple exercises such as squats and leg presses for mass. After that, finish your quads with leg extensions and lunges. After you are done with quads, finish with leg curls and straight-legged dead lifts. Add calves to the mix and you have will hit every muscle in your lower body.

Billi-Jean King I lost my glutes in my divorce! What happened is that I lost over 15 pounds in a couple of weeks due to stress (from 132 lbs to 117 lbs), and most of that was in my buns. (This was 7 years ago.) Now my butt is still flat, though I try to do squats and lunges regularly...I just can't seem to get the shape back. I have competed in bodybuilding, but my glutes and hams are my weak areas.

Chad TheTrainer Billi-Jean- The glutes are tough because there aren't a whole lot of different exercises to work them. The best thing possible is squats. I think with squats you need to ensure that you are coming very low so your leg is hitting a 90 degree angle at the knee. After squats I would try completing walking lunges again, making sure your legs come out so you are bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee. You may also want to hit the hip abductor and glute machine if they have one. If you want to try and hit it from the cardio angle try switching from the treadmill or cross-trainer to the step mill. Try double-steps to focus on the glute area. Hope this helps:)

Ellen Ridings What are some good exercises when you are having a hard time positioning for squats? What muscle do we work on to straighten the squat form properly?

Chad TheTrainer Ellen-  First I would make sure you are doing a 5 minute warm-up to get the blood flowing in the muscles.  I would then make sure you do about 5 minutes of stretching your quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves. Being flexible is a big part of proper form and the ability to generate more strength. If possible I would start doing your squats with a smith machine. This will keep the range of motion correct and will be safer. Make sure to have your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward.  ou want to come down so that your knees hit 90 degrees. Keep your head up, your chest out and your back arched with your arms holding the bar with your elbows at 90 degrees. Once you can perform the smith machine squats with ease you can move to free weight squats and try to copy the same form you have learned on the smith machine. Once again, start out light, warm-up, work on your flexibility, and keep your form no matter how much weight you are lifting. Best of luck!

Mandy Angellotti-Dunskis I've had two C-sections and need to tighten my stomach muscles. Is there a certain exercise other than crunches that will help? Thank you!

Chad TheTrainer This is tough due to the fact that they actually cut through the muscles. To work slowly back you may want to try to do some leg lifts. Hanging from a bar, bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle with your body. You can have your feet hanging down or straight out for more pressure. Try three sets of 15 to 20 or as much as possible without pain. Make sure to keep your nutrition in check as that is about 70% of you having a good looking mid-section. Best of luck!

Lee Gifford I just signed up for Snap Fitness but I’m confused how to use a gym with no locker room and showers. Any advice from Minnesota, a cold weather state? What is the gym etiquette with bringing in stuff like gym sweat towels and a change of clothes (I like to work out in shorts?)

Chad TheTrainer Lee,  I would just wear your sweats over your shorts so you can pull them off when you finish your warm-up.  Just bring a bag to put your stuff in such as your workout towel and your pants.  Your Snap should have cubbies that you can store your bag in.  It should be visible from everywhere you could be in the gym.

Shanna Abatti How do you know if you need an ankle or knee brace?

Chad TheTrainer Shanna-  I would consult your doctor for this one.  If you are feeling severe pain in your knee or ankles and it has just begun happening I would get to the doctor right away.  They will write you a restrictions list for exercises and make recommendations for a brace if needed.  I can’t think of any standard brace that you would wear on those areas.  

Gagan Gagi I need to know the best protein to gain some weight?

Chad TheTrainer Gagan-  The best protein source in my opinion is Whey Protein.  Truestar health has an organic protein called True STRENGTH that you can purchase through your site.  Log into and click on “My Nutrition.”  I would actually log in and create a custom nutrition program and put your goal in for weight gain.  It will tell you how many calories you need to be eating a day to gain weight and the proper amount of protein needed to maintain lean muscle mass without gaining excess body fat.

Tristin Spicer I never have the energy to exercise and can't afford to buy super healthy food because I have a family of 6 – how can I still lose weight?

Chad TheTrainer Tristin-  The good news for you is it doesn’t really matter what type of food you eat for weight loss.  It is about calories-in versus calories-out.  If you take in less calories than you burn you will lose weight.  The problem is that the type of food you eat determines your energy levels and how you store muscle and fat.  It is hard to build muscle without adequate protein and you need fat and carbohydrates for energy.  If you are the same weight you have been for a long time you should log into and enter in all the foods you eat.  You will be able to see just how many calories you are taking in.  If money is an issue I would just cut back a few things you are currently eating and add a multivitamin to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need that you may be missing in the healthier foods.

Serena Tabor Stewart I'm trying to lose 15-20 lbs. Would you suggest losing to desired weight with diet and cardio before using weights/machines in the gym? Suggestions on quickest and safest way to drop the weight?

Chad TheTrainer Serena-  The quickest and safest method is to do all of the above at the same time.  Cardiovascular exercise will help you burn stored fat as long as you are doing it at the proper heart rate.  Weight training will increase your muscle mass and you will burn 60 – 80 more calories at rest for every pound of muscle you put on.  When you lift weights your body burns calories for 24 hours versus 1 – 2 hours after a cardio workout. Eating the correct amount of calories is the most important as you have to take in less calories than you burn to lose weight.  Eat a little bit less and make sure to do cardio and weight training and you will see the best results possible.

Lee Rodriguez Johnson What are good exercises for the stomach?

Chad TheTrainer The best exercise for your mid-section is a combination of cardiovascular exercise to burn stored body fat, weight training (crunches, leg lifts, ab machines) to add muscle and increase your metabolism, and nutrition. That being said, nutrition is about 70% - 80% of the battle. Until you eliminate the fat layer over your abdominal area you will never be able to see the muscle. I would focus on working out your full body 3 times per week and get 5 days of cardiovascular exercise in for 30 minutes. Try cutting your calories back a little bit too and you will start seeing results!

Shanna Abatti What is a good work out on the cardio machines - stairs or treadmill? I always steer clear because i do not know how to approach them.

Chad TheTrainer Shanna- This really depends on your goal. It’s not really the type of cardio you do as much as it is the duration and intensity.  I would start with a 20 minute workout and would keep your heart at a moderate rate.  Try taking 180 minus your age to get a generic heart rate.    If you were 40 years old it would be 180 – 40=  140 beats per minute.  Just increase the intensity of the machine and keep watching your heart rate on the screen until it hits the desired level.  Try keeping this level consistent for 20 minutes and slowly work yourself up to 30 minutes over time.  Try doing one type of cardio for two weeks and switch it up for variety and fun.  Best of luck!

Jennifer Elgin-Gelinskey What is a good protein supplement for women!? I'm 30 and there are so many different types! And what dosage – before workout, after workout, daily?

Chad TheTrainer Jennifer- I really like the Truestar health products.  You can access them through your site.  Click under “My Nutrition” and register for a free custom nutrition plan and vitamin profile.  On this site I want you to check out TrueSTRENGTH protein.  I would take 1 to 1 ½ scoops 18 – 27 grams of organic whey protein within 30 minutes after your workout.  This will help with muscle recovery and endurance.  When you do your profile you will also get many other recommendations that will help.

Kevin Riley I attempted to do the 'Insanity' workout and have since noticed a small bulge near my belly button. I was checked for a hernia and told I do not have one. Doctor said I seem to have injured my stomach muscles (awesome, I have stomach muscles in there somewhere lol). Can you pull a stomach muscle and if so, what are symptoms? I know you're not a doctor just didn't know if you have heard of this. Thanks.

Chad TheTrainer Kevin- I have never heard of this and my guess would be a hernia.  You may want to get another opinion from another doctor.  I guess you could have possibly tore your abdominal muscles as the insanity workouts are pretty intense.  Let me know what you find out!

Lisa Evans Sanders What are some good exercises for "love handles" on a 44 year old woman's body?

Chad TheTrainer The best exercise for your love handles is a combination of cardiovascular exercise to burn stored body fat, weight training to add muscle and increase your metabolism, and nutrition. That being said, nutrition is about 70% - 80% of the battle. Until you eliminate the fat layer over the area you will never be able to see the muscle. I would focus on working out your full body 3 times per week and get 5 days of cardiovascular exercise in for 30 minutes. Try cutting your calories back a little bit too and you will start seeing results!

Julie Parkes What do you suggest to boost fat loss when reaching a plateau?

Chad TheTrainer Julie-  You can approach this from a few different angles.  You can either add more caloric burn to your routine or you can cut your calories a bit.  Try adding an additional 10 minutes to your cardio so you can burn another 100 calories or so.  You can also cut one thing out of your regular diet to drop your calories a bit.  Either way your body is at maintenance and you only need to make a minor change to see a difference.  You may also want to try TrueDETOX from Truestar health.  Log into your account and under “My Nutrition” you can find this product on their website.

Kim BJ Hi I'm from Korea - I have a question about when you get in a super slump, what would you do ? Please give me a little advice - I love Snap gym!

Chad TheTrainer Kim-  This sounds like a motivational slump.  If you are not motivated anymore try getting a work-out partner or get with a personal trainer to help spice up your workout a bit.  If you don’t have music I suggest wearing headphones and playing upbeat music that is motivating to you.  You can also watch your favorite television show while you work-out to pass the time a bit faster.  You can also try switching your work-out up.  Do you cardio at the end of your workout if you are doing it before now.  You can also try doing your weight training in reverse order.  Either way you need to do something to break up the normal routine and get you fired up again.  Best of luck!

Jackie Ross Best exercises to rid cellulite?

Chad TheTrainer Jackie-  There are not best exercises to get rid of “cellulite.”  This has to do with the muscle tone and fat layer between your muscle and skin.  You can help alleviate this a bit my adding resistance exercise to increase the muscle volume.  If you do consistent cardiovascular exercise you will be able to burn your stored body fat.  The tighter the skin gets to the toned muscle the less you will notice the “cellulite.”    It’s going to take a combination or a great diet, consistent cardiovascular exercise, and weight training at least 3 days per week.

Kris Nicholson I know what to eat after a great workout - protein. What is best to eat before my 40-60 minute workout? Been getting light headed...

Chad TheTrainer Kris,  I would do some type of fruit or fruit juice.  If you eat an apple or orange about 30 minutes before your workout you will get glycogen released for energy slowly though your workout.  If you need something quick before you work out like within 10 minutes I would try drinking a glass or orange juice (2 cups).  This will give you a quicker boost of energy.  Try to avoid heavy meals within 30 minutes of your workout or eating too early like 2 hours before your workout as the food will be worn off by then.  Hope this helps!

Marvin Colón I’m trying out deadlifts for the first time, and I usually do them on the smith machine, but the bar does not touch the ground. Should I stay away from the smith machine and go with dumbells?

Chad TheTrainer Marvin-  For that exercise you are going to have a hard time performing it with a smith machine.  You will want to use a straight bar for the best motions but dumbbells would be good too.  You need to be able to keep your back fairly straight and vertical and you could do the exercise with your hand between your legs or you could hold the dumbbells on the outside of your knees.  Best of luck!

Walter Moore Hi Chad, can I do cardio everyday and not hurt anything? I have heard mixed reviews. I want to overall lose weight and tone. I don't want to look like a bodybuilder just fit and in shape.

Chad TheTrainer Walter-  Doing cardio every day would be over-training.  Your body needs time to recover from exercise.  You could probably get away with doing 6 days a week but at least take Sunday off to help recover the muscles and joints. I prefer to take one day off during the week like Wednesday and another on one weekend day. You can get your resistance training in 4 days a week and your cardio in 5 – 6 days a week for best results. Alternate upper and lower body exercise days and try to do your cardiovascular routine after your weight training.

Diana Lewis Jacobs I have a sore lower back. What would you suggest? I am looking for a small gym close by and I live right behind your gym.

Chad TheTrainer Diana-  I would need to know what your sore lower back is from.  Is it muscle soreness or does it have to do with your lower back and spine.  Either way one of the best ways to help alleviate lower back pain is to strengthen your core.  Work the abdominal muscles and make sure you are incorporating crunches, leg lifts, and exercise balls.  Also, make sure you are doing adequate stretches to loosen up the muscles in your lower back.  I would go get checked by a doctor or go see a chiropractor before starting anything to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

Sue Jones McCullough Exercises specifically designed for lower belly fat ?

Chad TheTrainer The best exercise for your mid-section is a combination of cardiovascular exercise to burn stored body fat, weight training (crunches, leg lifts, ab machines) to add muscle and increase your metabolism, and nutrition. That being said, nutrition is about 70% - 80% of the battle. Until you eliminate the fat layer over your abdominal area you will never be able to see the muscle. I would focus on working out your full body 3 times per week and get 5 days of cardiovascular exercise in for 30 minutes. Try cutting your calories back a little bit too and you will start seeing results!

Tom Granville I tore the Achilles' tendon in my right leg in 2010 and noticed I've lost some mobility and strength in it. Are there any exercises I can do to regain it?

Chad theTrainer Tom-  Try doing a few of these things but also go see a doctor and make sure there are no more underlying issues.  You should be doing active ankle strengthening with resistance bands.  You can sit down on a bench with one let in front of you with the band wrapped around the top of your foot.  This will allow you to start working your gastrocnemius and soleus with plantar flexion.  You should also be doing active ankle range of motion exercises.  This would involve rotating your foot around in circles and from front to back.  I would work on these basic things first and make sure you have full range of motion and basic strength built before moving on to a seated or standing calf raise.

James Vacca I was wondering if there are any exercises to help reduce the "fat pad" that some guys have right above their groin? I'd really like mine to go away.

Chad TheTrainer Since you can’t really spot-reduce, the best exercise is a combination of cardiovascular exercise to burn stored body fat, weight training to add muscle and increase your metabolism, and nutrition. That being said, nutrition is about 70% - 80% of the battle. Until you eliminate the fat layer over this area you will never be able to see the muscle. I would focus on working out your full body 3 times per week and get 5 days of cardiovascular exercise in for 30 minutes. Try cutting your calories back a little bit too and you will start seeing results!

Jeremy S. Lee I am training for a marathon in April. I run 4 days a week, with time for 30 minutes of strength training on one run day. I do about 20 minutes on the elliptical and 40 minutes of strength training on 2 other days and rest one day ( after my long run). How much lower body and what types of exercises should I do?

Chad TheTrainer Jeremy, since you are doing so much running I can only see one day a week you should be doing legs. You will need more time to recover than most people due to the intensity of cardio.  I would start with a core exercise such as leg press or squat.  I would follow this with leg extensions and leg curls.  You can probably skip calves because you are working them so much on running days.  I would do one light warm-up on each exercise followed by 2 sets of 15 repetitions.  You should be having a very difficult time with the 12th – 15th repetitions.  I would also try to keep your leg day as far away as possible from your hard running day.  Best of luck!

Jason E Maitner My left quad is bigger than my right (8years of driving semi-trucks doesn't help.) Should I focus a little more on the right leg or just keep working both together? And will they even out? Thanks

Chad TheTrainer Jason-  I had a similar situation coming off a knee surgery in college.  I lost about half my size on the left knee.  When I returned I would do leg presses and I would do my normal 2 or 3 sets with both legs.  I would then do 2 additional sets with my smaller leg.  I would only do my leg extensions with my weaker leg.  Over time they will even out.  Just make sure that you work on both sides.  You don’t want to get weaker in your strong leg.

Kathleen Marie Gilette I would love to know the most effective toning exercise for my lower body:) I've been over blessed with The Italian cooking lower body fluff:) thank you!!!

Chad TheTrainer Kathleen-  Toning you lower body is a combination of diet, weight training and cardiovascular exercise.  For exercises I would start with your core exercises like the squat and leg press.  I would finish with leg extensions, leg curls, and lunges.  You might also want to top it off with calf raises.   This will focus on every muscle in the lower body and help you build muscle mass which you need to look toned.  Cardiovascular exercise when done properly will burn the stored fat on top of the muscle and give you that “toned” look you want.  Make sure you are doing 20 – 30 minutes a day of cardio to be effective.  The biggest issue where most people fail is diet.  If you don’t start eating properly you are working against yourself as you will continue to gain weight if your calories in are larger than your calories out.  Watch your diet, do cardio at least 4 days per week, and make sure to train your lower body at least twice per week.  If you can be consistent with this you will start seeing results very soon.

Dawn Lynema I have had a knee replacement and am limited with regard to squats, knee bends, etc. What can I do to replace those for core?

Chad TheTrainer Dawn-  Try doing as many exercises as possible on a Versa ball.  Here are some ideas:  You can lay back on it and do crunches.  You can sit on it and or lean back on it when doing dumbbell presses for shoulders and chest.  Any exercises you do while on the Versa ball are going to make you use your core muscles to complete the exercise.  You can also try standing on one leg when you do exercises.  Do alternating biceps curls or shoulder presses.  Make sure to switch feet from time to time to ensure balance.   If you have access to TRX bands you can do tons of things for core with your feet stationary.  One other idea is to log into and use the yoga builder.  You can build a custom yoga program that is for core training.  Hope these ideas help.


Be sure to join us for our March live-chat on Facebook on Wednesday, March 20th at 12:00 PM CST! The theme will be Weight Loss - for our Lose Weight Challenge Participants! Sign up for the Lose Weight Challenge at your club today!

GUEST BLOGGER | Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

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