· By Anya Kaats
5 Ways to Labor Your Legs!
Summer is drawing to a close and bikini season is nearing its end. What better time to get started on achieving those strong, toned legs you’ve always craved for next summer? These easy yet effective leg exercises will get you on your way to your goal. No boring squats and lunges here, these moves will help you switch up your routine and keep it fresh and fun. You can do these as a full leg workout or pick and choose which you’d like to integrate into your daily routine! Bulgarian Split Squats: Find something sturdy that’s about the height of your knees. A coffee table, ottoman, bench or chair would work. Stand with your back to the item and bring one foot up to rest on whatever you’ve chosen. Your leg should be at about a 90-degree angle. Stand as far away from the bent leg as possible to enable movement and slowly lower on your standing leg until your front leg reaches 90 degrees. You should hold the same form as you would for a regular squat, making sure your knee does not go further than your toes. Do 20 reps on each side. For an added challenge, grab a couple of dumbbells or wear a heavy backpack. Hip raises: Start by lying on your back with feet firmly planted on the ground, knees raised. Lift your back and hips off the ground but make sure not to over-extend. Lift your toes off the ground so that you are balancing only on your heels. Slowly slower your hips down, but only slightly and raise back up. While it might seem that lowering further will give you better results, its actually more difficult to only lower your hips slightly. Do 20 reps. For an added challenge, extend one leg out straight, in line with your lifted body, still balancing on heel of your opposite leg. Repeat the same as before, but do 20 on each side. Plie squat: Targeting those inner thighs are certainly tough. But the plié squat is a great way to target this hard to reach area. Stand with your feet wide and your toes pointing outward. Make sure you are still able to bend your knees. Squat down and touch the floor with your hands or just go as low as you can. Don’t bend your legs farther than 90 degrees Do 20 reps. For an added challenge, hold one dumbbell in both hands between your legs and be careful not to arch your back. Glute kicks: Start off in a tabletop position. Hands shoulder with distance apart on the floor, back straight and bent knees touch the ground, hips width distance. Make sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders and that your knees are directly below your hips. Slowly raise your left leg up using your glutes, as if you were trying to kick the ceiling with the bottom of your foot. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Do 20 reps on each side. For an added challenge, place a dumbbell in the back crease of your knee on the leg you are raising. You can also make this more difficult by raising the opposite arm from the leg you are lifting forward simultaneously. Curtsy Lunge: Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart. Keep your arms by your sides. Slowly lower down as if you were going to do a squat but instead swing your right leg behind your left, bending both knees to 90 degrees, as if you were curtsying. This should look and feel like you are doing a twisted lunge. At the same time as you swing your right leg back, raise your right arm, keeping your left hand down by your side. As you come out of the lunge raise your back leg up to your hip at 90 degrees and lower your arm to touch your knee with your hand. Do 20 reps on both sides. For an added challenge, hold a light weight in whichever hand you raising. Suja Juice