Great Legs from Hips to Heels - Without a Gym Membership
by our Health Guru

Sure, your (expensive) personal trainer can teach you to use plenty of (expensive) leg exercise machines that at your gym, but what if you don't have the money to spend on an (expensive) gym membership?

There are plenty of activities that will strengthen and tone your legs, such as running, bicycling, rollerblading and jumping rope. But there are also several (free) specific resistance exercises that can help strengthen and shape every muscle in your legs. Trying at least one from every muscle group 3 times per week, will have your legs looking fit and fabulous in no time at all.


Hips/Glutes (Butt Area)
Butt Press: (works hips and glutes as well as the outer thigh and quadriceps)

  • Lie on your right side with right arm extended out and your head resting on your arm.
  • Keep your hips aligned, and bend your right leg for a wide base of support. You can also use your left arm in front of your chest for support.
  • Lift your left leg so that your knee is parallel to the floor and your foot is 4 inches from floor.
  • Hold your abdominal muscles in tight.
  • Bend your left leg slightly, using the hip and knee joints, and then straighten without locking the knee.
  • Use a slow, deliberate movement.
  • Pay attention to contracting the muscles in the butt and thigh.
  • Repeat for 8 counts and rest.
  • Repeat on the other side.


Hamstrings (Back of thighs)
Hip Lifts: Works the backs of the thighs and the butt.

  • Start on all fours (knees and elbows) with your knees under your hips.
  • Keep your elbows shoulder-width apart with your forearms flat and your hands crossed.
  • Hold your abs in and don't arch your back.
  • Lift your left leg toward the sky, while keeping your knee bent.
  • As you lift, squeeze your glutes.
  • Don't raise your thigh higher than your hips.
  • Lower your leg and repeat 8 times.
  • Repeat with your right leg.


Quads (Front of thighs)
Lunge:

  • Stand up straight with your feet together and looking straight ahead.

  • Keeping your motion slow and controlled, take a long step forward with one foot, keeping the leg at a right angle (don't bend your knee in front of your toes), and bend your back leg until the knee is as close to the floor as you can manage.
  • Hold for a 2-3 seconds.
  • Slowly and deliberately push back up until you are standing again.
  • Repeat with the other leg going forward.

  • Abductors (Outer thighs)
    Outer Thigh Lift:

    • Lie down on one side.
    • While keeping your top leg straight, slowly lift it as high as you can and hold it for 4-5 seconds.
    • Slowly and deliberately lower it.
    • Repeat as 12-15 times, or more if it's comfortable for you.
    • Repeat with the opposite leg.


    Adductors (Inner thighs)
    Inner Thigh Lift:

    • Lie down on one side and cross your top leg over your bottom one (you will have to bend your top leg slightly). Don't roll your hips back - stay on your side.
    • Slowly lift your bottom leg as high as you can and hold it for 4-5 seconds.
    • Slowly and deliberately lower it.
    • Repeat as 12-15 times, or more if it's comfortable for you.
    • Repeat with the opposite leg.


    Calves
    Heel raise:

    • Stand with your heels off the ledge of a step or stair and only the balls of your feet touching it.
    • Use the wall, a handrail or a chair for balance.
    • Raise your heals up so that you are nearly on your toes
    • Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to the starting position.
    • Repeat 12-15 times.


    Ankles/Feet
    Flamingo Stance:

    • Fold a standard sized towel into a square big enough to stand on.
    • With your eyes closed, stand on one leg, on the towel for 30-45 seconds.
    • Repeat 3 times on each foot.


    Keep these general rules in mind when doing these or any other exercises:

    • Go slowly at first -- don't overdo it.
    • Add more repetitions only as you get stronger.
    • As the repetitions become easy, you can add hand or ankle weights as appropriate.

    Next week we'll share some more fabulous moves to add to or rotate into your leg workout...

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