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 

Shape-up Saturday: Hamstrings and Glutes

Hi There! This was originally intended to be Wednesday’s post, but when I got sick (for the first time in 6 months), this post got postponed until now. I know, I haven’t posted a workout in awhile. But that’s because I’ve been trying new things, and different resources to workout. Rarely, do I ever train this way anymore, but sometimes, it’s nice to tack on a couple of extra minutes of toning power, and this workout should only take about 5 minutes. The only equipment you need is your own body weight or a resistance band.
Frog Squat Lifts: This sounds funny I know, but it’s a butt burner, and will help get rid of that cottage cheese on the back of your legs if you clean up your diet.  Start out feet wider than shoulder width apart, with the band anchored under your feet and one end in each hand. Stand ing tall with your abs contracted and hips pulled under you. Hinge forward, and with a flat back, and keeping tension in the band, squat down like a frog, keeping your heels on the floor and stopping when your hands are a few inches from the ground. contract the muscles in the legs and glutes and push hips forward to return to standing. Repeat for reps.
Fire Hydrant Kicks: Start on all fours, abs engaged. Hold one end of the band in each hand with the middle looped on your left foot. Bring your left knee out to the side of your elbow and press against the band up and away from you, keeping your core steady. Bring your left knee bacyk towards yours elbow and repeat for reps! Repeat move with the other leg.
Glute Bridge with Band: Lie on your back, with both knees bent Place the band over your upper thighs and anchor it on both sides with your hands. Scoop your abs in, contract your glutes and lift your hips off the floor. Hold for a 3-count and lower. Repeat for reps. Make it more difficult: perform a single-leg bridge.
I loved creating this workout and hope you will enjoy it too, and although I’m a personal trainer, you’ve chosen to do this at your own risk. When in doubt, ask your physical therapist or doctor.
Keep pressin’ on weekend warriors!
Julie

Workout Wednesday: Travel-Friendly Workout

Happy Hump Day!

Wow, what a crazy week! After a film shoot this weekend, and a couple of gigs, I’m ready  for the road trip that Micah and I and our good friend, Elizabeth are going on in l.5 weeks 🙂 Yay!!! I love Holden Beach! A few days of boogie boarding, and running on the beach are going to be amazing!
That being said, I don’t plan to spend much time indoors. Morning workouts will work just fine, and I’ll probably only do a 15 minute workout, utilizing body weight and a band, and for all you cardion junkies, circuit style strength training also provides cardio while giving you that lean muscle that you need if you expect to look “toned”. Even though it’s a circuit,  this routine shouldn’t necessarily be rushed. You need to think about the muscles you’re using, in order to get the full benefit of the exercises. 
Curtsey Lunges – These are amazing exercises for the  legs! Start out standing, with feet hip-width apart and band anchored under your right foot. Maintaining tension in the band, take a step back with your left foot, stepping back and across with your left foot. Contract glutes and thighs, pressing through the front heel to return to standing. Repeat for time and complete reps on the other side before moving on to the next exercise.

Bent Row – Hinge from the hips. Abs in tight. There should be a straight line from your head to your hips. Anchor the band under both feet with 1 end in each hand. Contracting shoulders, pull band towards you, keeping elbows close to the sides of your body. Lower slowly. Repeat for time.

Plie Frog Hop- Standing with feet wider than shoulder width apart, hinge forward from the hips – straight line from head to hips, and squat down, bottom back behind you. Maintaining hinged position, lightly hop feet off the floor, or rise onto your toes. Press heels into floor and squat down again. Repeat for time.

Push Up – From knees or toes, with body in a straight line and abs contracted, and hand shoulder width apart. Lower yourself towards the floor, rise, pushing the floor away from you. Repeat for time.

The trick  to this workout is that it uses multiple muscle groups, and it also uses large muscle groups, so that you burn more calories. Do you workout on vacay? How? Do you like vacationing where you can be active? Comment below! 🙂

see you soon!
– Julie