5 moves to sculpt strong and sexy legs
Tone your thighs and get lean legs with these five lower body exercises
What you need:
An exercise mat, stability ball and a set of eight- to 10-pound dumbbells (for increased difficulty).
Before you begin:
Warm up for five minutes with a brisk walk or jog. Do these exercises two to three times per week, on non-consecutive days.
Works: thighs, butt (Bonus: core)
A. Stand about three feet (one metre) away from a wall to provide balance if needed. Face the wall.
B. With abs tight and spine straight, lift your right leg behind you and at the same time bend forward from your waist until your torso is parallel to the ground. Reach arms in front of you to touch the wall with your fingers and keep right leg extended, creating a "T" shape with your body. Keep your arms, legs and torso straight.
C. Raise your right leg about three inches (eight centimetres) higher into the air, squeezing your right butt muscle (keep torso parallel to the ground). Hold for two seconds. Do eight to 12 reps. Then release and return to the upright starting position. Switch sides.
Works: thighs, inner thighs, butt
A. Stand with arms by your sides. Place feet wider than hip-width apart, toes angled out slightly.
B. Bend legs, keeping knees in line with ankles, and lower hips into a squat. Your tailbone moves back and down. At the same time, reach arms straight in front of you.
C. Hold for three seconds, then press through your heels and return to standing. Do eight to 12 reps.
Works: inner and outer thighs, butt, quadriceps, hamstrings
A. Stand with both feet side by side, hip width apart. Take a large step forward with the right leg. Ensure you are landing with the heel first then forefoot. Bend both knees and begin lowering yourself until the front thigh is parallel with the ground and the left knee is almost touching the ground. Both legs should create two 90-degree angles. Do not lean forward, and do not let your front knee move forward of the toes.
B. Pushing off from the heel of your front foot, lift the back leg and swing it forward so you are back to the starting standing position.
C. Now take a large lunge forward with your left leg and repeat the lunge. Alternate legs with each lunge.
Intermediate: Hold a set of dumbbells in each hand at your sides or on your shoulders.
Advance: Add a torso twist. Hold the dumbbell at chest level and rotate your torso toward the lead leg (whichever leg is in front). Keep your body upright.
Kneeling hamstring curl
A. Place your forearms and both knees on the mat. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Draw your belly button in toward your spine with your face pointing down.
B. Fully extend your right leg in the air toward the ceiling. Bend the right knee and bring your heel toward your butt. Contract your hamstring when bending the leg.
C. Without dropping the right thigh, bend and extend the right leg for 15-20 repetitions before switching sides.
Rolling hamstring curl
Works: thighs, hips, butt, calves (Bonus: core)
A. Lie on your back with legs straight, heels resting on top of ball and arms on the floor.
B. Tighten abs and lift hips off the floor until your body forms a diagonal line from shoulders to heels. With back straight, hold hips high and bend legs so ball rolls toward you; the soles of your shoes touch the ball.
C. Straighten your legs but keep hips raised. Do eight to 12 reps.