8 Moves to Get Your Dream Legs

Toned and Firm, that’s what we want for our lower body. The truth is, it simply takes the commitment to stick to a routine. Follow these moves and you will super happy come Spring and Summer!

plie-squat--700x650

Plie squats

This fun variation of the classic bodybuilder favorite hits the inner legs and can be performed with no equipment (holding a dumbbell or kettlebell is an option).

How to

1. Standing upright, move your feet so that you are in the classic ‘plie’ position – toes pointing out, core tight and stance as wide as you are able to properly and comfortably execute the move (aim for shoulder width).

2. Keeping your pelvis straight and upper body straight (this is not a squat per se, we are not sitting back), lower your body until your thighs are close to or at parallel with the floor. Don’t force it but work toward it.

3. I like to stay for a moment to squeeze my glutes before returning to the starting position.

4. If balance is an issue, feel free to hold on to a park bench or even a tree, just ensure there isn’t excessive dependency.

B: 3 x 15; A: 15 reps.

Photo credit: Jamie Watling


 

Side lunges - for inner thighs and legs - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

Side lunges with kettlebell

How to:
Stand with feet together, holding a kettlebell with arms extended down.

Start by taking a giant step to your left with your left leg, keeping your body facing forward and your left foot facing slightly outward.

Bend your left knee and sit back slightly until your left thigh is parallel to the ground while keeping your right leg straight.

Pause, then push off your left foot to return to start, repeating with the right leg.


Adductor squeeze - targets inner thigh - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

Adductor squeeze with Pilates ring

This Pilates move will strengthen your inner thighs and glutes, which weaken with prolonged sitting.

Target: The inner thighs, obliques and glutes

How to

1. Start by lying on your side with a Pilates ring or squishy ball between the ankles and the arm outstretched with head relaxed

2. Exhale and press the top leg down. Inhale to release. Keep the movement slow and controlled

Tip: For a harder movement, reach the top arm to the ceiling

Reps: 12 to 15 each side

Peta Serras, Polestar Pilates instructor. Photography: Benjamin McCloghry


Sumo squat with kettlebell - Advanced squat variations - Women's Health & Fitness

Sumo squat with kettlebell

Start by taking an excessively wide stance. The more your feet are apart, the more you activate your glute muscles and not your quads (front of thighs).

Point your feet to 45 degrees away from your body. Holding the kettlebell in front of you (arms should not be flexed), with your core engaged and your back kept straight, bend your knees and send your hips backwards, lowering your body and the kettlebell as far as you can without compromising your posture. Try to get the weight all the way to the ground without actually touching it.

Rise back to your starting stance, squeezing your butt at the top of the movement. That’s one rep.

Aim for 4 sets and 15 reps.

Added challenge: Superset this exercise with 10 reps of jump squats after each set. Using no weight, do the exact same movement but when rising from the squat, jump into the air, bringing your feet off the ground.

Photo credit: Jamie Watling Photography


Plie-jumps-nichelle-laus-dave-laus

Plie jumps

Target your abs, butt and legs with this workout from Nichelle Laus.

How to

Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out and arms at your sides. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.

Jump up as high as you can, keeping your legs wide and extending your arms straight overhead. Return to starting position and repeat.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Photo credit: Dave Laus


Sumo squat with medicine ball press - Squat variations - Women's Health & Fitness

Sumo squat with medicine ball

Target Muscles: Glutes, Quadriceps Hamstrings, Deltoids, Abductors, Adductors, Soleus, Gastrocnemius, Triceps, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius

The key to this exercise is to stand with feet beyond shoulder width. The wide stance forces the inner thigh muscles to work harder. Toes should be turned out.

Once feet are in position, hold the medicine ball in front of your body. The arms should hang freely during the first part of the movement.

Squat down until legs are parallel and ensure abdominals are engaged. A partial movement (half way down) is okay for those with limited mobility. Be sure to keep back straight and head up.

Exhale as you stand up.

Raise medicine ball above your head, keeping abdominals engaged and elbows soft, shoulders relaxed and down; squeeze glutes as you raise ball above your head, pause and lower to starting position. Repeat.

Reps Recovery Sets
12 to 15 reps x 3 sets; 30 seconds recovery between sets


 

Clams Step 4 - Women's Health & Fitness

Clams

How to

1. Lie on your side on the floor with your legs together, knees bent and with your head, shoulders, bottom and heels touching the floor.

2. Open your top knee towards the roof to full rotation while keeping the heels connected.

3. Repeat up and down for one minute.

4. Repeat the exercise but begin with both heels lifted to the level of your top hip for one minute. (pictured).

Remember to maintain heel connection as this keeps the glute muscles firing.

Repeat the whole exercise on the other side. If you start to feel this exercise in the side of your hip, you are fatiguing and need to swap sides.


Adductor sqauts with single dumbbell - Advanced squat variations - Women's Health & Fitness

WH&F Head Trainer Nikki Fogden-Moore demonstrates adductor squats with single dumbbell.

Start: Feet stance is wider than hip width; keep your back straight and arms locked with the dumbbell in the middle.

Lower your body weight into a squat then hold before your rise back to the start position.

Aim for 10 to 12 reps.

TOP TIP: You must lock your core before you begin – posture is key. Eyes forward, chin up.


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