Your legs are your foundation. These 13 easy exercises for the legs and butt will make you stronger and healthier than ever before. For best results, make these exercises part of your regular workout routine.
1. Lunges. This basic exercise works wonders on your thighs and glutes. When performing a lunge, Fitness Magazine says to take care to maintain good form and posture. Focus on lowering straight up and down, as opposed to forward and backward. Keep the back straight and knee over toes.
2. In-and-Out Lunge. This exercise is a bit more difficult than your straight-forward lunge. Fitness Magazine says it’s great for both the inner and outer thighs. Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. Lunge diagonally, placing your left foot at a position slightly wider than the left hip. Do 10 reps and then repeat 10 times on the right side. Next, lunge the left leg diagonally across the right side of the body. Do 10 reps and then repeat 10 times with the right leg crossing the left side of the body. You can move forward or backward, as demonstrated above.
3. Skater Lunge. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Step backwards with your left leg, crossing it diagonally behind the right leg. As you do this, extend the right arm to the side and swing the left across the hips. Return to standing and repeat on the opposite side, as directed by Health. If you feel strong in this exercise, try adding a bit of cardio by adding a slight hop to the movement, as shown in the above graphic.
4. Duck Squat. Fitness Magazine loves squats for working the butt, inner thighs and calves. Begin standing with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out 45-degrees. Bend your knees as far as you can, taking care to keep the knees behind the toes. Do not go beyond 90-degrees. Hold the squat and then lift the heels for a count of one. If this is too difficult, practice lifting one heel at a time. Remember to keep your abs strong and tailbone tucked in so the back stays straight.
5. Jump Squat. Health recommends this exercise for the quads and hamstrings. Stand with the feet should-width apart and the arms at the sides. Squat as far down as you can while keeping the back straight as a board, as shown above. Then jump, raising your arms to propel and stretch your body upwards. Land in a squat and immediately jump again. Jump squat 20 times.
6. Chair Squat. Do this exercise in your house or at the office. Health says to begin standing in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abs and slowly lower your butt. Hover above the chair before slowly raising back up to standing.
7. Leg Lift. Build on your chair-based exercises with this leg lift. Health says to begin standing with a chair a few feet in front of you. Raise the right leg, keeping the knee facing upwards and the toes flexed toward the ceiling. Slowly lower the heel to tap the chair. Now, with your right foot still in the air, slightly bend the knee and straighten. Repeat 10- 15 times before switching to the left side.
8. V-Position. This chair assisted exercise will make you feel like a prima ballerina. Stand with your your heels together and your toes turned out to a V-position. With one hand on the back of a chair, slowly bend the knees while you lift the heels off the floor. Lower the heels until you feel pressure in your quads. Pulse up and down 10- 15 times. Rest and repeat 3 more sets of 10- 15 pulsing reps, as recommended by Health.
9. Side Leg Raise. Start this classic pilates move lying on our left side with your legs straight out, the right directly on top of the left. Women’s Health Magazine says to slowly raise the right leg. Pause when the exercise feels strenuous and then slowly return the leg to the starting position. Do this 5 more times and then switch sides.
10. Clamshell. After the side leg raise, stay lying on your side. Women’s Health Magazine says to bend the legs so the hips and knees are at a 45-degree angle. Keep the heels together as you raise and open the right knee. Pause when you reach your limit, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 5 times before switching sides.
11. Fire Hydrant. It may not be the most elegant, but it is among the most effective. Daily Burn says to begin on your hands and knees with your abdominal muscles engaged. Keeping your hips positioned towards the ground and the back straight in a tabletop position, raise the bent leg to a 90-degree angle. Pause and then lower. Repeat 5- 10 times before switching to the left leg.
12. Lying Leg Lift. This pose looks deceptively simple. Lie on your stomach with your forehead resting comfortably on your hands or forearms. Squeeze your left glute muscle and then lift the left leg off the ground. Keep the knee straight, pausing at your maximum height. Slowly lower to the ground. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the right leg.
13. Standing Forward Bend. To strengthen, tighten, and tone the legs, you also need to stretch. Health recommends a simple standing forward bend to combat cellulite and exercise the quad muscles. Begin standing with your feet hip width-apart. With a slight bend in the knees, slowly bend at the hips. Keep your focus on maintaining a straight back, and not on how far down you can go.
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