5 Exercises for Strong Lean Legs

Hi There! It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Busyness got the better of me.

Can you believe summer is almost over? I haven’t been outside much, since it’s been so hot here. I am excited that cooler weather is on the way though. Many women work on their legs and abs all summer and then neglect them in lieu of arms in the winter time, if you’re one of those, you should probably focus on a more well-rounded regimen. Squats and lunges and calf raises aren’t solely for aesthetics… if you want to have healthy, mobile hips and knees and ankles, then it is vital for you to strengthen this area… side effect: leaner legs and being able to jump/run/ski/walk/hike faster and longer without pain and reduced risk of injury.

The only equipment you’ll need is an exercise ball for these 5 Leg Leaning and Strengthening Exercises

Plie Squats
Who cares if you ever took a ballet class?! I love these
squats because the quads, glutes and hamstrings are involved. They’re also easier on my knees, and allow me to improve my flexibility too. For a tutorial on how to perform a basic squat, watch the video below. Use the Swiss ball between your feet to provide extra resistance.

Single-leg Calf Raises (not pictured)
 A simple exercise, but challenging to perform, these calf raises will improve your balance, and leave your calves screaming. Master regular calf raises first. Read the tutorial

Ball Hamstring Curls
These are one of my favorite leg exercises. The stabilizing action require to keep your legs on the ball will strengthen your core too. If you’re ready for a challenge, try, just try to do the single-leg modification of this exercise…I double dog dare you. Read the Tutorial

Side Lunges
These are a staple in my routine. The key is to think about the muscles being used and contract them to perform the motion, instead of relying on momentum. I’ve also learned that it’s either best to perform this exercise slowly, or explosively, with a knee lift as you bring one leg back towards the other. Read the Tutorial.


Single-leg Glute Bridges 
this is a great exercise to isolate the glutes, which support the lower back. Be sure to bring the spine to a neutral position, not arching the back in excess. It’s also one of my favorites because you don’t need a lot of space. Be sure to contract the glute of the working leg. You will also feel this in your hamstrings. Try the basic glute bridge and know it well before attempting this exercise.Read the Tutorial

Wall sits (not pictured)
This exercise almost needs no instruction. Lean with your back up against the wall. Feet about 3 feet away from the wall, as long as your knees stay behind your toes. Lower into a squat and stay there until you feel the burn big time. Make sure your back doesn’t arch away from the wall though.

Turn these exercises into a complete workout by performing 10-20 reps of an exercise then move onto the next exercise with little to no rest. Repeat for 2-3 rounds for fat-burning, or perform 3 sets of 10 – 20 reps of an exercise before moving onto the next for muscle-building emphasis. Hold wall sits from 15 seconds – 1 minute as you progress. And as always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

What’s your favorite leg exercise? What’s your strength goal for leg day?! Comment below! 

Enjoy and let me know your progress!

Don’t Forget to Stretch! 

Julie 

Can you figure out the word this workout spells?

Hi there! I LOVE this cooler weather! So excited about all the fun headed our way. I’ve been getting stuff ready to “yard sale”, and getting ready for some big events….my parents 40th anniversary party in December. (Yes, I like to plan.) It’s December 14th so I like to plan in advance….because that time of year gets busy…too fast. I’m also seeing my bestie, LizBeth, off into the Navy Reserves this month, and want a little cash flow to bless someone who’s brought me hot soup when I was sick, taste-tested every protein bar I’ve ever made, prayed for me on my good and bad days, and plan to go to surfing school with someday. She’s been a tremendous blessing to Micah and I and now we want to pay it forward.
 Today, I would like to share a workout with you! I had fun creating the graphic for this workout! (Can you tell?)

Feel free to share this workout on your social media! Sharing is caring!

You can also look up videos for each exercise at Ace-Fitness.org

Move them legs!
Julie

P.S. Can you figure out what this workout spells? Comment below! 

Workout Wednesday: Glute Bridges

Hi There!
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a strength training move tutorial for the abs….well, today, it’s time for a lower body strength training move! Lower body is my favorite to train, but it wasn’t always that way! (No pun intended.) I love lunges, and plie squats, but bridges are probably my favorite move. Now, I know there has been a glute craze recently, but there are far more reasons to strengthen the largest muscle group in your body other than getting rid of cellulite! Here are 3:
1. To prevent back pain – your glutes are part of the posterior chain of muscles that include the erector spinae (the muscles that run vertically along side your vertebrae) and your hamstrings (backs of your legs). If one link in this chain is weak, then your back health is greatly put at risk, because the largest muscles in your body can’t do the job…think about it.
2. To burn more calories – muscle builds calories. The larger the muscle, the more calories you burn, but steady state cardio will not build muscle. Strengthening the glutes will burn more calories, because you need lean muscle to burn calories, even at rest…no muscle…no burned calories…no glutes, less calories  burned…Make sure you strength train the rest of your body too!
3. To protect your knees – I love squats and lunges, but depending on how they’re performed, a too much emphasis can be placed on the front side of the knee or the quads…Your muscles support your joints, and your hamstrings need to be strengthened as well. Glute bridges also strengthen your hamstrings, and your strength for certain movements, such as running will come from your glutes, not just your quads.

The how to: lie on your back. Feet flat on the floor hip width apart. (Feet should be about 12 inches from your glutes.) Pulling your navel toward your spine, press into your heels, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor…keep squeezing your glutes as you pause at the top.
Slowly lower your hips back to the start but don’t quite touch the floor. This is a great move to incorporate into the beginning or end of a workout!

Once you master the beginner version try this more advanced version! Just plant one heel into the ground. contract abs and glutes, and lift!

What’s your favorite lower body strength training move? Let me know in the comments below! Want better muscle definition, contact me to find out about a plan to help you get there!

Happy Hump Day!
Julie