If you have trouble finding time to keep your legs in shape, you can relax. By using simple body-weight exercises, you can build a great set of legs in your living room. Leg movements that use multiple muscles at once keep your workouts short and easy. With just four exercises, you can own a pair of great-looking, toned legs.
The glutes in your buttocks and hips, along with your hamstrings and quadriceps, are the muscles you use when lunging. Your calves, abs and back help with balance and stabilization. You complete lunges one leg at a time. To do a lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with one leg and allow both knees to bend. Allow your buttocks to sink. Stop the movement when the upper part of your forward leg is parallel with the floor. Complete the lunge by reversing the entire movement. Switch and work your other leg. Start with three sets of eight to 10 lunges for each leg. When 10 lunges becomes easy, increase to 12 and then 15.
Squats also engage your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Position yourself to squat by placing your feet hip-width apart. Allow your arms to hang relaxed along your sides. Bend both knees simultaneously and lower your buttocks. Stop when your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Pause for two seconds and push yourself back to the starting position. If you have balancing trouble, start with your back against a wall, or push a Swiss ball against a wall with your back. Begin with three sets of six to eight squats. Be sure to do them slowly so you can hold your balance. Feel free to increase the number of squats per set, up to 12.
Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises will help tone your hips. Perform this exercise by lying on your side with your legs fully extended so your inner ankles touch. Position your body in a straight line. Place the hand of your top arm at your waist. Engage your hip muscles and while keeping your legs and body straight, lift your top leg toward the ceiling as far as possible. Slowly return your leg to the starting position. After eight to 12 repetitions, flip over and work the other side. Aim for three sets per leg. Feeling a little burn in your upper leg is normal when doing leg raises. If you can, push through the burn and complete the set.
Balance yourself on your right leg only. Contract your calf by lifting your right heel until you are standing on the ball of your foot. Slowly lower your right heel until it touches the floor. Switch feet and repeat. To increase the difficulty, use a step. Place your feet on the edge of a step. Drop the heel of your right foot to the starting position. Lift your left foot and place all of your body weight on your right foot. Contract your right calf by raising your right heel as high as possible. Slowly lower your heel to the starting position. Calf raises should also be done in sets of three per leg; 10 to 12 repetitions to start is adequate. You can increase the number of calf raises as you become fitter.
Make sure you have enough space when working out at home. You should keep a chair within an arms reach to assist you in balancing, if need be. Stop an exercise if you begin to feel dizzy or light headed.
Marcus Schantz is an author and licensed attorney based in Chicago. He holds a Juris Doctor from the Northern Illinois University College of Law, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.