Saturday, September 12, 2015

5 Exercises for Strong Lean Legs

Hi There! It's been a long time since I've written. Busyness got the better of me.

Can you believe summer is almost over? I haven't been outside much, since it's been so hot here. I am excited that cooler weather is on the way though. Many women work on their legs and abs all summer and then neglect them in lieu of arms in the winter time, if you're one of those, you should probably focus on a more well-rounded regimen. Squats and lunges and calf raises aren't solely for aesthetics... if you want to have healthy, mobile hips and knees and ankles, then it is vital for you to strengthen this area... side effect: leaner legs and being able to jump/run/ski/walk/hike faster and longer without pain and reduced risk of injury.

The only equipment you'll need is an exercise ball for these 5 Leg Leaning and Strengthening Exercises

Plie Squats
Who cares if you ever took a ballet class?! I love these
squats because the quads, glutes and hamstrings are involved. They're also easier on my knees, and allow me to improve my flexibility too. For a tutorial on how to perform a basic squat, watch the video below. Use the Swiss ball between your feet to provide extra resistance.

Single-leg Calf Raises (not pictured)
 A simple exercise, but challenging to perform, these calf raises will improve your balance, and leave your calves screaming. Master regular calf raises first. Read the tutorial

Ball Hamstring Curls
These are one of my favorite leg exercises. The stabilizing action require to keep your legs on the ball will strengthen your core too. If you're ready for a challenge, try, just try to do the single-leg modification of this exercise...I double dog dare you. Read the Tutorial

Side Lunges
These are a staple in my routine. The key is to think about the muscles being used and contract them to perform the motion, instead of relying on momentum. I've also learned that it's either best to perform this exercise slowly, or explosively, with a knee lift as you bring one leg back towards the other. Read the Tutorial.

Single-leg Glute Bridges 
this is a great exercise to isolate the glutes, which support the lower back. Be sure to bring the spine to a neutral position, not arching the back in excess. It's also one of my favorites because you don't need a lot of space. Be sure to contract the glute of the working leg. You will also feel this in your hamstrings. Try the basic glute bridge and know it well before attempting this exercise.Read the Tutorial

Wall sits (not pictured)
This exercise almost needs no instruction. Lean with your back up against the wall. Feet about 3 feet away from the wall, as long as your knees stay behind your toes. Lower into a squat and stay there until you feel the burn big time. Make sure your back doesn't arch away from the wall though.

Turn these exercises into a complete workout by performing 10-20 reps of an exercise then move onto the next exercise with little to no rest. Repeat for 2-3 rounds for fat-burning, or perform 3 sets of 10 - 20 reps of an exercise before moving onto the next for muscle-building emphasis. Hold wall sits from 15 seconds - 1 minute as you progress. And as always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

What's your favorite leg exercise? What's your strength goal for leg day?! Comment below! 

Enjoy and let me know your progress!

Don't Forget to Stretch! 



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