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OptimizePMD: Lower-Body Movements for Every Fitness Level

Lifestyle & Wellness | Facebook Live Recap | OptimizePMD

Everyone works out a little differently. Some people can do high-intensity and high-stress exercises. Some people need exercises to be a little less strenuous, and that's ok. In this video, Richmond health coach Michael Stroud runs through several lower-body movements, and provides variations for each fitness level. Watch the video below and read on for a full recap. 

Lower-Body Movements for Every Fitness Level


The most challenging way is to start with a dumbbell in your hands, either hanging down below your waist or by lifting it near your neck. Do a regular squat.   

If the dumbbell is too much, put it down. Do an air squat. If you need a little stability with your air squat, a chair or bench. Do air squats and briefly sit on the chair or bench each time.

The next level below an air squat is a wall squat. Wall squats reduce the pressure on your knees. The further out you put your feet, the less pressure will be on your knees. 

And finally, if the squatting motion up and down is too difficult, ditch it. Do a wall sit, squatting once while up against a wall and holding for as long as possible.  


Alternating lunges. Step forward with each foot and lunge forward, keeping your weight on your heels. Don't let your kneecap go over your toes. 

If alternating lunges cause too much pressure on your knees, do a step-back lunge. It's the same thing as an alternating lunge, just stepping backward instead of forward. 

If the lunging is too much, do a split-squat. Get in the lunge position, with one foot ahead of the other. Squat down. Hold onto a wall or chair if needed. You're basically doing a lunge, while taking the step out of it. 

And finally, if the lunge down motion is giving you issues, do a step-up using a chair or bench. The higher the step, the more difficult it will be. Start small if needed, such as with a step in your house. 

Leg Raises

The most simple version is to sit on the floor with your legs straight out, and lift one leg straight up. If sitting  on the floor is an issue, such as if you have very tight hamstrings, sit in a chair instead and do a march. 

Hip Abductions

Lay on the floor on your side. Life your top leg straight up in the air. You should feel it right on the outside of your hip. Do both sides.

If getting on the floor is an issue, stand with a hand up against the wall. Lift your outside leg out as far as you can. 


Lay on the floor, flat on your back. With your heels flat on the drive, lift your hips as high as you can. Hold for a split-second and come back down. Repeat and hold as long as you can. 

The standing version of this is to lean with both hands up against a wall and extend your leg backwards as far as you can go. 


Many people lose the ability to dorsiflex as they age. This causes shuffling of the feet. While standing, lift one foot in the air. Point your toe as high in the air as possible, and then point it back down. 

About OptimizePMD

OptimizePMD is a new wellness program under development at PartnerMD. By emphasizing various exercise strategies and explaining the science behind them, OptimizePMD will help participants achieve and maintain optimal physical performance at all stages of life. Check out more OptimizePMD content here. More information coming soon!