How to Strengthen the Legs & Hips for Walking

Lunges, squats and supermans will get your legs in shape for walking.

Lunges, squats and supermans will get your legs in shape for walking.

Walking is an accessible and efficient form of cardiovascular exercise that you can do by yourself or with your girlfriends. By walking at 3.5 miles per hour for one hour, you can burn 314 calories if you're 160 pounds, 391 calories if you're 200 pounds, or 469 calories if you're 240 pounds, according to estimates from Mayoclinic.com. However, if you've been playing the role of couch potato for a while, you could lack the strength and mobility necessary for walking at a brisk pace. By doing strength-training exercises that'll have you feeling the burn in your hips and legs, you can get in shape for walking and prepare for more intense forms of cardio as well.

Perform supermans to get your lower back, glutes and hamstrings into top shape. Lie facedown on the ground and extend your arms in front of your body. Raise your chest, arms and legs off the floor and pause for two seconds while exhaling -- you should look just like the Man of Steel when he's flying. Slowly return your chest, arms and legs to the floor as you inhale.

Do lunges to work your quads, calves, glutes and hamstrings. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart to assume the starting position. Step approximately 2 feet forward with your right leg, bending at your knees to bring your torso closer to the floor. The ball of your left foot should stay planted, and your torso should stay upright. Pause once your left knee touches the floor, then press down on your right heel to return to the starting position. Switch to the left foot and repeat.

Perform bodyweight squats to pump up your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the back of your head. Keeping your back straight and your head up, flex at your hips and knees to lower your torso down toward the floor. Pause once your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then press down on your heels to return to the starting position.

Complete three to five sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Perform all three exercises together as a complete lower-body strength-training session, and fit it into your busy routine at least two or three times every week. Change up the program by adding or subtracting reps, sets or exercises to match your current fitness level, and work at whatever pace seems best for you.

Tip

  • Eat a healthier, leaner diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats and protein. The carbs will give you steady energy to take on a fierce workout, and the protein will give your muscles the juice they need to grow in size, strength, density and definition after your workouts.

Warning

  • Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
 

About the Author

Kevin Richards has been a writer and editor since 2009, specializing in fitness, health and nutrition, as well as technology, finance and legal issues. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

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