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Show Off Those Perfect Legs

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -

Would you like to have nicely shaped and toned legs? Even though your genes did not give you a pair of long, slender legs, the good news is that there are a variety of exercises you can do to strengthen and lose weight in your legs.

Below are some tips and four effective exercises for toning legs without overdeveloping your muscles . 

The Whole Body

Before starting an exercise program for your legs, you should know that it is impossible to do exercise that tones or results in weight loss in only one specific area of the body. You need to exercise and maintain whole body fitness, from your head to your toes, 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 have established a regular cardiovascular exercise routine, then you can start doing exercises that will help you develop and tone the muscles in specific areas of your body such as your legs.

Simple and Effective Exercises

Below is a list of some of the most effective leg exercises that can be done at home.  You can also use these exercises as a guide to help you create your own routine.

As with any new workout routine, you should start off slowly and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.

1. Squats:

This exercise tones the muscles in the bottom half of your body, which are the thighs, hips and gluteus.

  • Start by standing up. Spread your legs shoulder-width apart, and put your hands on your hips (beginning level). For a more advanced level using hand weights, bend your arms and raise your hands to shoulder height.
  • Look straight ahead and tighten your abdominal muscles to gain better stability.
  • Next, bend your legs keeping your knees in line with your ankles, and move your hips back as if you were going to sit down. Do not bend 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 challenging.

2. Lunges :

  • Stand up and spread your legs apart 8 inches (20 cm) 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, 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 curls :

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 do not 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 home version of a very popular exercise done at the gym. You will not 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 stick out a maximum of 2 inches (5 cm) from the edge of the chair. Spread your feet shoulder width apart, and raise your heels keeping your toes on the floor.
  • Slowly raise your right leg, 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 4 simple movements will help you achieve the perfect legs! You will see results in about one month to six weeks depending on your age, how often you exercise and your overall fitness level.

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity at MyDiet™


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