Why do women love to train their legs? Trainers often say that it’s because it’s our largest muscle group, and we can see the most power coming from our quads, hamstrings calves and glutes. But there are other reasons we should be working our lower half in our workouts, from improving bone density to preventing varicose veins. Read on to find out the best leg exercises for you.
You know that pump your legs get after a spin class? Well, if you’re thinking that spinning adds bulk to thighs, you can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s only temporary. In fact some recent studies, reports spinning.com, have shown that women who cycle often do lose body fat from their midsection and legs. So why not take spin class for a spin?
Walking is an underrated form of exercise. Not only is it good for the heart and soul, it’s also good for preventing varicose veins. A sedentary lifestyle – in addition to age, family history, occupations that require standing, hormones, tight clothes, history of blood clots and more – can lead to poor blood circulation and that increased pressure can lead to enlarged blood vessels. Although all types of exercise can help, walking is especially effective, reports the Cleveland Clinic.
3. Hip Extensions
Don’t get down on yourself about negative body image, instead look to exercise to look your best. And if saddlebags are bugging you, you’ll be interested in this: Healthy Living cites a American Council on Exercise study examined a variety of moves and found that Quadruped Hip Extensions (aka Donkey Kicks) best target glutes and hamstrings. On your hands and knees, lift one leg at a time straight back.
There are creams and lotions that claim to target cellulite, but the same claim can be said for lunges. Aging causes muscle loss, and that can cause wrinkling and dimpling in legs, reports Prevention Magazine. The key to lunges that work is to stick with proper form: knees at 90-degrees, posture upright, and front knee should not go past the toes at the bottom of the move. If you hated lunges, you can learn to love them, knowing the good they’re doing for your legs.
5. Calf Jumps
Look your best in heels and skirts by working the often forgotten calf muscles. T-nation.com suggests calf jumps to build this muscle. It’s described essentially as Calf Raises (standing, lift your heels up so that you’re briefly standing on the balls of your feet) with a quick jump at the top. And as an added bonus, you’ll notice your abs get engaged too.
Speaking of jumping… Plyometrics, as defined by Women’s Health Magazine, are “moves that incorporate leaping, jumping, or skipping,” which burns calories quickly and builds lean muscle. Think squat jumps. The great thing about plyometrics is that you don’t need exercise equipment and you’ll see results in your lower body rather quickly. That’s reason to jump!
7. Upper Body Cardio
It’s a bit counterintuitive to think that the upper body has any effect on your legs, but science isn’t too worried about that. A study recently published in the research journal Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance found that upper body aerobic activity is linked to the lower body. The researchers tapped into the topic because astronauts aren’t able to do lower-body cardio in space, and they compared the physical effects of arm cranking to running on the treadmill in men and women and came up with similar results. Who knew?!