Having strong and healthy legs is extremely important, not just for good-looking thighs, but also for our brains and overall health. Exercising your legs helps you keep a sharp mind as you age, maintaining strong intellectual abilities and sanity.
Bright Side made a workout with leg exercises that will help you get rid of fat, strengthen your muscles, and look astonishing while boosting your brainpower as you’re aging.
1. Wall sit
Wall sit is the simplest way to exercise your legs. All you need is a wall. It strengthens your quadricep muscles, burns fat, and also increases your endurance. Because of its nature, you need practice to be able to hold it for a long time. Just try to hold it longer little by little in duration.
- Stand with your back against the wall like you’re sitting in a chair.
- Keep your feet rooted on the ground, hip-width apart.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this 90° bend at the hips and knees for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Stand up slowly and repeat 5 times.
Tip: Place your hands on your sides or extend your arms in front of you for better balance. Placing your hands on your thighs won’t help.
2. Chair pose
Chair pose, or Utkatasana as it is called, is a very strong position for your whole body, but especially for your hips, legs, thighs, and arms. Including chair pose in your workout will be beneficial to your upper and lower body.
- Stand up straight with your arms by your side and lower your body.
- Bend your knees and pretend like you are about to sit in a chair with your feet on the ground, leaning forward from your core.
- Extend your arms straight up to follow the angle of your torso and stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Slowly go back to your standing position and repeat 5 times.
Tip: Focus on your breathing to find better balance. Exhale when bending and inhale when standing.
Squats are probably the most well-known exercise you can use to work out your hips and thighs. You don’t need any equipment to do your squats and they can also be used for some rehabilitative activities.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Imagine you’re sitting down in a chair and lower down with while extending your arms straight in front of you.
- Keep your abdominals firm as you lower down and don’t let your upper body lean too forward.
- Stand back, keeping your toes on the floor. Do 1-3 sets with 10 squats in each set. Remember to rest between sets.
Tip: You should be able to look at your toes during the squat. If you can’t see them, fix your position.
4. Jump squats
Jump squats are even more effective than regular squats and will help you sculpt your hips and butt really quickly. The only thing that’s changing is the jump added on your squat and the position of your arms.
- This time start from a squat position, legs open, feet under the hips.
- While in a squat position, give your core a good boost and jump high with your arms extending toward the ceiling.
- Land on your feet in a squat with your upper body slightly bent in front of you and your arms straight behind you. This position will give a greater boost to your jump.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10 jump squats, rest between each set and repeat.
Tip: Try to focus on your landing. It should be as smooth as possible in order not to injure your knees.
Abduction exercises are another way to get you closer to having strong and fit legs. They are also used to treat pain in the hips and knees as a part of physiotherapy sessions.
- Lie on your mat, on one side, with your body straight, and both feet in the flex position.
Use your lower arm under your head to support it and place your upper arm on the floor in front of you, to help you keep your balance.
Keep your legs straight and lift the upper leg as high as possible, then lower it slowly.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10 leg lifts and then turn to the other side.
Tip: Wear ankle-weights or elastic straps on your feet to add resistance and upgrade the level of your exercise.
Adduction exercises are similar to the side-lying abduction exercises, but this time the position of the legs changes and the focus is on the leg that’s on the ground. Hips, inner thighs, and leg muscles are strengthened here.
- Lie on your side, exactly as in the abduction exercises, with your legs straight and parallel to the mat.
- Keep your bottom arm extended over your head, lie your head on top for support, and place your top arm in front of you.
- This time cross your upper leg in front of your bottom leg and slowly raise your bottom leg, with a flexed foot, off the floor toward the ceiling.
- Lower your leg. Do 2-3 sets of 10 and then repeat on the other side.
Tip: You can wear ankle-weighs or straps here too to increase resistance.
Scissors are a great and easy leg exercise that builds up your hip flexors and transverse abdominal muscles. It can be practiced from a beginner to an advanced level.
Lie on your back with your legs extended in front and place your hands under your head for support.
Keep your upper body down on the mat while raising your legs to a 45° angle.
Open your legs on the side and then cross one leg over the other in the middle repeatedly.
You can start with 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, rest, and repeat.
Tip: If you find it difficult to do the exercise with your legs straight, try to keep your knees bent at first as a modification and progressively work your way to the original, more challenging, version.
8. Forward lunge
Forward lunge is another popular easy-to-do exercise. Except for strengthening legs and buttocks, forward lunges also improve balance and stability, and if done right and regularly they also assist in building a healthy spine.
- Stand on your mat in a natural position, with feet hip-width apart.
- Step forward doing a lunge, bending in front with your other knee following, and almost tapping on the floor.
- Keep your core strong and upright while lowering your body and not kneeling forward.
- Push with your front leg to return to a standing position. For starters aim for one set of 8-12 reps and repeat on the other leg.
Tip: You can use weights in both arms, holding them on each side while bending.
9. Curtsy lunge
A curtsy lunge is a variation of the regular lunge. It perfectly shapes the glutes and legs, and helps in body stability and overall posture.
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart, parallel to each other, and place your hands on your hips.
- Take a step back and sideways, outside your front leg, while lowering your body and bending both knees at the same time.
- Return to a standing position by pushing with your back leg, switch sides and repeat.
- You can start with one set of 12-15 reps and then shoot for 3 sets.
Tip: You can hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of you at chest height to boost your workout.
10. Side lunge
Side lunges are another variation of the lunge exercise that help in leg sculpting, fat loss, and also stretching your hamstring and thigh muscles.
- Start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other.
- Take a big step out to the side, lowering on the mat, mimicking a squat with arms either extended in front or kept bent in front of the chest.
- Keep the other leg extended and straight, with toes well rooted on the ground.
- Give a good push from the bent leg to get yourself back into a natural stance. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
Tip: Spice things up by adding a jump to your side lunge. Instead of standing up and changing sides, try to powerfully jump from your right side lunge to the left and vice versa.
Having a strong and healthy body is important for a prosperous life. Do you exercise? What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments.
Illustrated by Yekaterina Ragozina for Bright Side