Calling all leggies (ladies with legs)! Want to look good and feel confident in a pair of shorts? A good leg workout will have those walking sticks struttin' their stuff in no time. The acronym LEGS -- lunges, extensions, glutes and squats -- not only burns the legs (in a good way) but also burns as a memory in the brain. Let's get those glamorous gams goin'!
Warm Up to Get a Leg-up
Before performing any exercise, indulge in some warmups, preferably associated with the muscle being worked. Exrx.net mentions that a warmup implies what it says -- warming up the body and increasing blood flow to the muscles. You can't cook your turkey burger in a cold pan right? In the "Essentials of Exercise Physiology" book, exercise physiologists talk about general and specific warmups. Leg warmup examples include running in place, jumping jacks and jump squats. Perform the warmups for at least five minutes. Now that the muscles are warm, try specific warmups with leg stretches to increase range of motion and flexibility. Hold each stretch up to 30 seconds and continue until all of the leg muscles are stretched.
L is for Lunges
When performing lunges, keep the shape of the letter L in mind. Stand straight and take a step forward with the right leg. Keeping the back straight and looking forward, slowly drop the left knee down until almost touching the ground. The right knee should be bent so that it forms a 90-degree angle and the foot and lower leg resemble the letter L. The torso and the top of the right leg (quadriceps) should also form a 90-degree angle, or an L. Now, come back up and return to the starting position and do the same with the left leg. What to do with the arms? Hold a dumbbell in each hand, grip a barbell across the shoulders, or simply rest them on the hips. Three sets of 15 lunges per leg will start to get those quads and glutes lookin' glutilicious!
E is for Extensions and G is for Glutes
Leg extensions (not hair extensions) involve the hip adductors and abductors -- a.k.a. inner and outer thighs -- gluteus maximus -- a.k.a. butt -- and hamstring -- a.k.a. home of the cellulite. Stand with feet pointed out and legs separated shoulder width or more apart. Keeping your back straight and looking forward, squat to a 90-degree angle at the knees. When coming up to the starting position, squeeze inner thighs, which is also called adduction. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions. In opposition, abduction means pushing the thighs away from the body. Keeping the body balanced and straight with hands on hips, push one leg out to the side at a time. Add an exercise band for resistance, and complete three sets of 15 repetitions per leg.
S is for Squats
Kick the chaos and squash the squat stereotypes. Squats are not just for men or building bulky brawn, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Squats are responsible for building lean muscle while training the quadriceps, glutes and calves. Stand with feet hip width apart, back and head straight, and hands behind head or holding weight. While taking a deep breath in, squat and keep your feet flat and your knees from crossing over the feet. The stop position is when the thighs are parallel to the floor. Now, exhale and come back to start position while squeezing the glutes. Mooo-ve those calves by standing up on the tips of the toes when coming up from the squat position. Perform three sets of 15 squats and calves.
Cool down with adequate water and nourishment -- protein and complex carbohydrates. Perform this workout only twice a week to give those legs a breather.
Melissa Hannah has a Master of Science in kinesiology and Bachelor of Science in nutrition. The nutrition degree gave her the opportunity to help individuals learn how to eat healthy while the kinesiology degree helped tie in the exercise component. Hannah wrote health-related newsletters and lesson plans for a wellness company, and designed a nutrition resource website for a university wellness program.