Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s workouts are not for the faint of heart—the star likes to focus on strength and conditioning through long, intense sessions. “I try and exercise for two hours a day—I do a mix of Pilates, yoga, dancing and weight training,” she shared with Vogue India back in 2015. While her workouts are generally full body sequences, Kapoor Ahuja likes to pay attention to working her lower body. “She is 5’10” so she is extremely limb-y. Our main focus is on strengthening the long, lean muscle mass,” confirmed Radhika Kalre, a master Pilates instructor and Ahuja’s long-time personal trainer.
There’s a reason that leg day is the hardest one at the gym—there are a lot of muscles to be worked. “The hamstrings and glutes are important muscles that one should focus on. You often only work out what you can see, but creating a balanced musculature starts from the back,” says Kalre. “Plus, 60 per cent of your muscles are in your lower body. The larger muscles you work, the more calories you burn so the more efficient your workout is.” Ignoring the lower body and focusing just on ab workouts can be harmful for the body. “Your feet are the foundation of movement, so if your feet are not strong and stable, and if your gait is not good, it will eventually work its way up. This can affect your lower, mid and upper back, and may then cause shoulder and neck issues too.”
This is what Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s lower body workouts look like
“When Sonam came to me first, she had hip issues, and we’ve overcome that very well through exercise,” says Kalre. “Due to family issues of knee pain, we wanted to prevent that from the get-go.” Since she’s “hyper-mobile,” all the workouts are about strengthening the glutes and the backs of her legs. “Two of my favourite moves with Sonam are supine leg pools on the trapeze table, and side-line leg work on the reformer,” shares Kalre. Functional moves are a large part of the workout. Static moves, like a simple lunge only works the hamstring, quads and glutes. “But a reverse lunge plus step up will involve your calves, foot and ankle too, which improves the calorie burn of the exercise too,” she says. “You can do a squat and step out, lunge and reverse lunge or side lunge to improve the efficiency.”
Pilates and functional movements are full body workouts, and engaging every muscle is important. While it is easy enough to follow through videos and virtual workouts, Kalre suggests working on your form before diving into the practice head-on. “You should focus on the alignment of the lower body from the get-go. Your hip bones and knees should be in line, and you don’t want you knees rotating or torquing. Plus, you want your abdominals and core engaged when you start your lower body exercises,” she says. She confirms that keeping your spine in a neutral position is super important, particularly because a rounded or extended back can cause major back injuries.
The 3 exercises that’ll improve your lower body strength
- Bridge: This exercise will work the glutes and hamstrings. Hip bones should be up to the ceiling. After hinging them up, lie back flat with control. “Keeping the flat back is key to prevent injury,” says Kalre.
- Plie: This Pilates-barre exercise is great for the glutes, hamstring, quads and abs. “Try it against the wall first. Bring your knees together, inner thigh zipped up. Then, while bending the knees, let your thighs unzip; and keep the sacrum against the wall,” she says. Tucking the tailbone as you go down will prevent you from keeping an arched back.
- Alternating reverse and forward lunge: While this exercise is simple to do at first glance, doing it right requires maintaining strong form throughout. As you lower the leg and glide it back, “pretend that you have a cup of coffee on your head and can’t spill it. Plus, your hip bones should be like headlines and need to be pointing straight in front.”
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