By: Adrienne Jack
So you may have got a little carried away at the dinner table at some point over the holidays.
The good news is, the notion that food goes “straight to your thighs” is a myth. The bad news? You can store more fat in your thighs than in other areas of your body.
If this sounds familiar, and you’ve vowed to stay in shape for your New Year’s resolution, building new leg exercises into your routine is a great place to start. Here are 10 of the best workouts this year for toning and shaping those pins.
In case you hadn’t noticed, spin studios are popping up everywhere. A popular gym class in the 90s, spinning gradually fizzled out – until now. And we can see why it’s gained traction again. Spin classes are fun, supportive aerobic sessions that burn about 450 calories in 45 minutes, toning thighs and butt.
- Single-Leg Squats
The basic squat is a go-to exercise for sculpting the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip complex muscles and calves. But who said you had to stop at basic? Single-leg squats target smaller muscles, too, with added benefits of reduced knee pain, reduced spinal compression, and improved stability.
Also known as “jump training” or “explosive jumps,” plyometrics consist of jumping with force to improve muscular power, speed, and strength. The idea is to lower into a compressed spring, followed by an explosive jump, landing lightly on your feet. Here’s a step-by-step method.
- Farmer’s Walk (on Toes)
The classic farmer’s walk involves walking with a pair of heavy dumbbells held at your sides. Just a few benefits of this exercise include developing powerful legs, hips, and back, strengthening the core, and added grip strength as a bonus. But to take this up a level, walk on your toes – either forward or in a circle for 60 seconds.
- Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell swings work pretty much everything, but they first target your lower half – mainly your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. To perform this exercise, hold a kettlebell in front of your waist at arms’ length, then bend your knees and push your hips back while lowering your torso and swinging the weight between your legs.
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Swiss (or stability) balls are versatile pieces of equipment that can engage a variety of muscle groups in a safe and comfortable way. One of these could be a great investment if you don’t regularly go to the gym – you’d be surprised at just how many exercises you can do.
- Around-the-Clock Lunges
To build lean legs and build calories faster, use an exercise like the lunge to combine strength and power. But rather than just doing forward or backward lunges, try performing lunges around the clock – starting at 6 (forward) and ending at 10 (sideways). Do three sets of 12-15 reps each time.
Resistance training using bands, dumbbells, or weight machines is a seriously effective way to build and define muscle and strength. Here are a few you can try at home or at the gym. If your goal is to add muscle and lose weight, take whey protein isolate beforehand.
Finally, a quick jog outdoors never goes out of style – running is the best way to target nearly all muscle groups of the leg. But treading concrete isn’t for everyone, and can put pressure on the joints. If so, glucosamine and chondroitin vitamins can help maintain joint flexibility. But if running isn’t your thing, try cycling instead – this is a low-effort way to stay fit. Kick your gears up a notch for resistance or interval training.
You heard us right – allowing your muscles to recover is
perhaps the most important part of any workout. Leave 48-72 hours between hitting weights (bear in mind you can do cardio in between weight training, though). To get rid of muscle soreness and cramps, try these dissolving tablets specially designed for the legs.