Show Off Those Perfect LegsPor Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD, Specialist in Sports Nutrition and Physical Activity at MyDiet™ -
Would you like to have nicely shaped and toned legs?
Long, slender legs may not be in your genes, but the good news is that there are a variety of exercises you can do to strengthen and lose weight in your legs.
This article will give you some tips and explain four effective exercises to tone legs without overdeveloping your muscles.
The whole body
Before starting an exercise program for your legs, you must know that it's impossible to do exercise in order to tone or lose weight in only one area of your body. You need to exercise and maintain fitness in your whole body, from your head to your feet, if you want to have nice legs.
The key to achieving this goal is regular aerobic exercise (3 to 5 days a week, from 30 to 60 minute sessions) and a proper diet. Some aerobic exercises that focus on the legs are: climbing stairs, riding a bike, walking, skating or running.
Once you've established a regular cardiovascular exercise routine, then you can start doing exercises to work on specific areas of your body such as the legs.
Simple and effective exercises
Below we will present some of the most effective leg exercises that can be done in the comfort of your home. They also serve as a guide to help you create your routine.
Keep in mind, as with any new workout routine, you should start off slowly and stop if you feel pain or discomfort.
This exercise tones the muscles in the bottom half of your body: thighs, hips and gluteus.
- Stand up, spread your legs apart the width of your pelvis, and put your hands on your hips (beginning level). For a more advanced level use hand weights, bending your arms and raising your hands to shoulder height.
- Look straight ahead and tighten your abdominal muscles to gain better stability.
- Next, bend your legs but keep your knees perpendicular with your ankles, and move your hips back as if you were going to sit down. Don't go lower than 90 degrees.
- Slowly return to your starting position, keeping your heels on the floor.
- Start off with a set of 10 to 15 repetitions. Little by little increase the amount to 2 or 3 sets if you want your routine to be more stimulating.
- Stand up and spread your legs 8 inches apart, more or less.
- Take a large step forward with the right foot without moving the other one. Bend your knees and lower your body towards the floor. Keep your torso straight and lower yourself until your left knee is about 3 or 4 inches from the floor.
- Next, push off with your right foot and move your body up and back to return to the starting position.
- Do the same with the other leg.
- In the beginning, do this exercise slowly to make sure you are in the correct positions. Do three sets on each leg, four times a week. If the exercise is too easy for you, try it with hand weights in each hand.
3. Leg curl:
To make this exercise more efficient, you will need to use ankle weights.
- Start on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor. Stretch one leg back until your knee is slightly higher than your hip.
- Bend your knee in towards your body as much as you can then stretch your leg back out again. Make sure you don't lower your hip.
- Do a set of 15 to 25 repetitions on each leg and repeat the set 2 or 3 times. For more resistance use heavier weights.
4. Leg extensions:
This is a homemade version of a very popular exercise done at the gym. You won't need special equipment, only weights for your ankles. However, be careful when doing it because you could injure your knees if you do it improperly or with too much weight.
- Sit in a chair with the weights on your ankles and a rolled up towel under your knees. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight.
- Your knees should extend a maximum of 2 inches from the edge of the chair. Spread your feet apart the width of your pelvis and raise your heels keeping your toes on the floor.
- Slowly raise your right leg and leave it in the air for a second and then return to the starting position.
- Do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each leg.
A proper diet combined with a regular exercise routine consisting of these four simple movements will help you achieve the perfect legs! You will see results in about a month to six weeks depending on your age, how often you exercise, and your physical condition.
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