To get your legs out of winter mode and ready for the warmer days ahead, try these 10 essential moves to strengthen and sculpt.
1) Romanian Dead Lift
The Romanian deadlift is amazing for your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Start standing straight up with dumbbells or a barbell close to your legs. To begin, hinge at your hips and lower your chest while keeping your back flat. It’s very important to keep your knees slightly bent and keep the weight close to your body. This exercise should be performed with low weight at around 15 reps until form is perfected. Once you feel confident doing the exercise, work towards a heavier weight and between 10 and 15 reps.
2) Pulsing Squats
Pulsing squats are a great exercise to burn out your leg muscles. Start standing straight up and push your hips back, keeping your weight in your heels. Engage your core and work towards a 90-degree angle at the bottom of your squat. Without standing completely straight, come back up to a 145-degree angle and repeat. Pulse for 30 to 60 reps.
3) Jumping Lunges
Jumping lunges are awesome for building your quadriceps and glutes, while keeping your heart rate up. It’s also important to keep your core engaged. This exercise may be advanced for you so keep in mind you can always start with a stepping lunge until you’re ready to jump. Start this exercise standing straight up and then lunge back, bringing your back knee as close to the ground as possible. Jump in the air and switch legs so that your front foot is now behind you and in a position to switch back to the front. Try to get at least 3 to 6 inches off the floor and work with a high rep range—around 25 to 50 reps total.
4) Speed Skaters
Speed skaters are not only considered a plyometric exercise, but they also work areas of the legs that other exercises can’t. Begin by standing in a curtsey lunge. Jump laterally and lift both legs off the floor, switch legs and land in the opposite curtsey lunge. If you need a modification, begin by stepping side-to-side and progress to a jump. The most challenging way to perform this exercise is to jump laterally in each curtsey, keeping your back foot completely off the floor. This will ensure gluteus medius contraction and increase your heart rate!
5) Calf Raises
Although this exercise might seem traditional, it’s the best way to ensure quality calf growth. Having strong calves will help prevent injury in your hamstrings, knees and even shin splints. Stand straight up and then put your weight onto your toes, focusing on flexing your calves at the top. Do your best to go up as high as possible and repeat with a high rep range of 20 to 40 reps.
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