3 steps to great legs!

Kim Droze

An hour of fitness a day keeps the fat away - and we've got a trio of do-anywhere exercises that'll help you meet that goal and get your legs in great shape at the same time!

If you are a busy mum or juggle work and family, don’t think you have to spend an hour a day at the gym to reap any benefits - walking instead of taking the car, climbing stairs instead of taking the lift or even cutting the lawn all count.

So whether it’s washing your car, cleaning the house or cycling to work, any activity that helps reach that 60 minutes of daily activity goes... as long as you’re up and moving at a mild to moderate pace.

Remember too, if you are in an occupation that entails a great deal of daily physical work, you could already meet these recommendations.

But being physically active, although good for the health and for maintaining a healthy weight, may not be enough to get the fabulous figure you want. For that, you need a routine that helps build, tone and shape your muscles - and today we've got a leg-toning set of exercises that can be done in the comfort of your living room, bedroom or even the office in 30 minutes or less. This workout will also help increase your body’s fat-burning abilities.

These three super exercises will give you better-looking legs and help you meet the recommended daily dose of fitness – they include the step-up, the lunge and the squat. And because the lower body comprises over 60 percent of your lean muscle mass, working the larger muscles of the lower body will give a great fat-burning experience!

The thighs respond to these types of exercises as they aren’t isolated or hard-to-reach muscles. The step-ups, the lunges and the squats directly work the front and back quadriceps, hamstrings and butt at the same time - that’s three major muscles groups all at the same time. They also bring the lower back and abs in to stabilise muscles. When you add the dumbbells, you’re also engaging the muscles in the arms and shoulders.

Realistically, doing this routine twice a week, in addition to being active and following a healthy diet, will have a tremendous effect on your appearance. It’s a time saver that guarantees big results.

Begin with the step-ups. Repeat to fatigue. Move directly to the lunge and perform 12 to 20 reps. Then move on to the squat and do 12 to 20 reps. For the lunge and the squat, use hand weights to increase intensity. When you have done all three exercises, rest for 60 seconds or less. Repeat entire set two or three times depending on your level of fitness. Step-Ups

Place your right foot flat on the step and your left foot flat on the floor. Exhale and push off as little as possible with the left foot as you bring both feet up to step level (you'll now have two feet on the step). Inhale and lower your left foot back down to the floor. Work with body weight only, and repeat to muscle fatigue regardless of the number of reps. Repeat with the legs reversed. While step-ups are a great toning exercise, they also serve as a warm up for squats and lunges, and should therefore be done in a higher rep range with no added resistance. Lunge

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Inhale and take a large step backward with the left foot to a point where your left knee is a few inches above the floor (or as close as you can comfortably go) and your right knee does not extend past the toes of your right foot. Your hands, with or without dumbbells, remain at your sides; your gaze is forward. Exhale and step forward with the left leg returning to the starting position. Finish all reps with the left leg before repeating with the right. To make the movement less difficult, alternate legs. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 12 to 20 reps). Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding your hands or dumbbells at your sides. Your head is straight, the natural arch maintained in your back. Inhale, swing the weights (or your bare hands) slightly forward for balance while bending at the knees and hips to a sitting position (or as low as you can go and still maintain balance). Be sure the buttocks don't drop below the level of your knees, and your knees do not extend past your toes. Exhale and slowly return to a standing position, allowing your hands to drop back down to your sides. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 12 to 20 reps).

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