5 Great Ways to Tone and Sculpt Your Legs
Strong legs are in and there are lots of reasons to want them. First, strong legs give you the ability to squat, climb, and do daily activities easier. Another benefit to having toned legs is that you’ll look great in a skirt or shorts. Whatever your reasons, strong legs will increase your confidence and even help you on the dance floor even if you’re not trying to be the winner of Dancing with the Stars. Below are some of my favorite exercises to get you the legs your want. I promise you won’t get bulky!
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Stair climbing Stair climbing is a great way to strengthen your legs. The beauty of stair climbing is that you can do it just about anywhere. Most gyms have stair machines; be sure to choose a machine that is similar to actual stair climbing. Many stair machines have side rails that you can lean on – not a good idea. Leaning on the rails of stair climbers reduces intensity, promotes bad posture and results in less effective workouts. If you want to take it outdoors, walk the bleachers at your nearby high school and take the stairs everywhere; malls, office buildings, and schools.
Plyometrics – Also know as jump training, plyometrics is a best kept secret for getting great legs. As we age, fast-twitch muscle fibers decrease. In other words, if you don’t do these exercises, performing any movement that requires explosive power will get harder (e.g. tennis, jumping). If you want to build lean muscles, increase your metabolism, and change your body composition, make plyometrics part of your routine. Try this move: perform one set of 15 squats. Right after you finish the squats, perform 15 jump squats. You’ll break a serious sweat – I promise!
Inner and Outer Thighs - Training these areas can be tricky. It’s easy to hop on the seated machines but I suggest you try some different exercises that can get to these muscles even better. For the outer thighs (aka abductors) try some side lying leg raises with an ankle weight or side steps with an ankle band. For each set do 15 reps. For the inner thighs (aka adductors), straddle a stability ball and perform 15 squeezes.
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Pilates - I’m a big fan of Pilates. Pilates is known primarily for core training but many of the leg exercises are great for flexibility and sculpting the legs. Check out a class at your gym or pick-up some DVDs. Add Pilates to your program at least once a week.
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Stability Ball Exercises – Stability balls are great for adding a challenge to you leg routines. Use a stability ball and do squats against the wall. Lie on your back, place your feet on the ball and do hamstring curls. Another option is to do a single-leg or Bulgarian split squat with one leg on the ball. The Bulgarian split-squat is a pretty advanced exercise though, so be sure to master the first two exercises before trying the single-leg squat.
Add these exercises to your routine and get the legs you want in 2012. Do you have some specific leg training questions? If so, post them here. Until next time, take good care of you.
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