If you want to tone your upper legs, make squat thrusts or burpees part of your workout routine and kiss flabby thighs goodbye. If you think squat thrusts seem challenging, don't worry -- they can be modified to meet your fitness level. This calisthenic exercise combines isometrics and plyometrics for optimal results; when done rapidly, you can also get a cardiovascular benefit. In addition to sculpting your legs, the exercise also works your chest, abdominals and arms for a full-body workout that delivers.
Stand upright with your arms extended along your sides, spread your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes forward or slightly outward.
Bend your knees, push your tush back and lower your hips into a squat. Imagine you're sitting down on a chair. For optimal toning and activation of your quadriceps and hamstrings, try to lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width on the floor and jump or walk your feet back. You should now be in a plank position with your tummy sucked in to support your back, your toes flexed and tucked under, and your tush and leg muscles contracted. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
Bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and push yourself back up to the plank position. Skip this step if you're new to squat thrusts and proceed with the next step instead.
Jump your feet back under your hips to return to a squatting position and immediately explode upward -- push through your feet to extend legs and jump as high as you can for optimal leg-muscle engagement. Land on the front of your feet with your knees slightly bent to minimize the impact. Imagine you're light as a feather when landing and immediately go into the next repetition.
- Go at your own pace and do repetitions according to your fitness level. Do squat thrusts slowly to learn proper form. Once mastered, add one or two more repetitions, and as you get more confident and stronger aim to complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
- To make squat thrusts harder, speed up the exercise, jump higher or add an extra pushup or squat to it.
- Consult your doctor before engaging in a new exercise routine, especially if you have a medical condition or injury.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.