Fit Tip: Focus on Legs
May 21, 2013 // Category: Fitness Advisor
One of the easiest ways to tone your legs is to get up and use them more with consistent walking, jogging or biking routines. These cardio activities will also burn calories and help reduce overall body fat. But if you are looking for lean, strong legs, the prescription is strength training. Rely on variations of good old-fashioned squats, lunges and deadlifts to firm up the muscles in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Try the following leg exercises to train your muscles and get your legs ready for summer:
Take the Stairs: Choosing the stairs over the elevator is one of the easiest ways to work your legs during the day and you don’t need any extra equipment, just your body weight. Make it even more effective by taking the stairs two at a time. Push yourself up with your glutes and hamstrings to work the back of your legs.
Squats: Squats are one of the best moves for leg toning and glute firming. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes facing forward, abs tight and arms at your sides. Bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position, going as low as you can but no farther than 90 degrees. Pretend you are sitting back into a chair. Sit back and keep your knees over your toes, keep your chest lifted and spine long. Push through your heels and squeeze your buns to rise back to the starting position.
Deadlifts: There’s no doubt, the dead lift is one of the best exercise to tone the glutes and backside of the legs. Holding a barbell or two dumbbells at your side, keep your arms straight and knees slightly bent. Slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back. Keep your spine neutral and abs tight. Squeeze your glutes to pull yourself up.
Stability Ball Leg Curl: This is a great exercise to target the back of your legs. Grab a stability ball and lie on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle and ankles on top of the ball. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground. Keep your glutes squeezed tight, hold your hips off the ground and roll the ball toward your glutes and back to perform the rep. If that’s too challenging start with a simple hip lift and work your way toward the leg curl.
Alternating Reverse Lunges: Step back with one leg and bend both knees, lowering your body towards the ground. Align your front knee over the ankle of your front foot and stay on your back toe. Come back up to standing and switch legs.