If you've resorted to hiding your shapeless thighs under long skirts and loose pants, maybe it's time to reassess your exercise regimen. Part of your routine should include strengthening exercises for your quadriceps. These large muscles at the front of your upper thighs are used each time you extend your knees. Strengthening them builds muscle tissue, which boosts your metabolism; and if you're into sports, strong quadriceps can improve your performance. There's no excuse not to do these exercises, because you can do them using just your body weight from the comfort of your home.
Lying Leg Raises
Leg raises might seem deceptively easy, but after doing several repetitions, you'll feel your quadriceps burn. This exercise is done while lying face up on the floor with one leg extended and one leg bent at the knee. Pull your tummy in, push your lower back toward the floor and slowly raise your extended leg 45 degrees. Hold this position for three seconds and gradually lower your leg back down. Do this eight to 12 times before switching legs, and work your way up to doing three sets.
Squats are often referred to as one of the best quadriceps exercises. Although you can do them with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, placing your feet closer together really targets your quadriceps. Bend at your knees and hips and slowly lower down, pushing your butt back as if sitting down in a chair. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, push through your heels to slowly return to the starting position. To really isolate the front of your thighs, do squats while sliding your back against a wall. Complete eight to 12 repetitions and three sets.
Lunges, such as walking lunges, reverse lunges and curtsy lunges, can engage your quadriceps. Before doing these, learn the basic lunge. Take a big step forward with your right leg and prop up on the toes of your left foot. Bend both knees and lower your hips straight down. The knee of your right leg should always remain above your right ankle. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, push yourself up to the starting position. Do this eight to 12 times and complete three sets.
When doing stepups, start with a low platform, and as you get stronger, gradually raise the platform. While standing in front of a platform, step on it with your right foot. Push through your right foot to engage your quadriceps and raise your left foot off the floor, placing it on the platform. Step down with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Repeat this eight to 12 times before switching your starting leg. Complete three sets.
- Ask The Trainer: Best Leg Exercises
- OncoLink: Exercise Descriptions: Straight Leg Raise: Quadriceps (Thigh Muscles) Home Leg Strengthening and Stretching
- University of Texas-Pan American: Muscle Building: Squats, Leg Press or Knee Extensions - Which Exercise Is Best For the Quads?
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squats
- MayoClinic.com: Video: Lunge Exercise
- MayoClinic.com: Video: Step Up Exercise
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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