You don’t have to have fancy equipment to get strong, toned legs! In fact, some of the best exercises use just your bodyweight. And, although squats are an amazing way to strengthen all the major muscle groups in your legs, suggesting a “squat” is often a cue for a collective groan. So, enjoy these 3 squat-free moves that will do your (lower) body good!
- Wall Sits: Begin by standing with your back against a wall. Walk your feet out several feet from the wall. Keep your back, shoulders, and head resting comfortably against the wall. Slowly slide down the wall, until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are directly over your ankles. Take care to keep your knees behind your toes to help protect them. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds, rest, and repeat 2 more times. For an extra challenge, place a ball or rolled up towel between your thighs, just above your knees. Squeeze the ball/towel to activate your inner thighs.
- Stationary Lunges: Step your right leg forward so that your right foot is several feet in front of your left (keep your feet hip-width apart). Your left heel will come off of the floor, leaving just the ball of your foot and toes on the ground. Stand tall with your abdominal muscles drawn in. Your hands can either rest on your hips or hang by your sides. Slowly bend both knees, lowering the left knee toward the floor, without allowing your left knee to touch the floor. Make sure your stance is wide enough so that as you bend your knees and lower toward the floor, your right knee is stacked directly over your right ankle. Slowly rise back up to starting position. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions on one side before switching legs.
- Incline Plank: Begin in a seated position, with your legs extended in front. Place your hands several inches behind your hips, with fingers pointing towards your body. Roll your shoulders back and down to open your chest. Press your hands and your heels into the floor to lift your hips toward the sky. Try to point your toes toward the floor. Allow your neck to remain in line with your spine by either looking straight up toward the ceiling or just a little forward (don’t let your head “hang” back). Hold this for 3-5 breathes, rest and repeat 1-2 more times. If you would like an added challenge, while in incline plank, engage your abdominal muscles and lift your right leg a few inches from the floor, without dropping your hips. Keep the right leg straight as you lift and continue to reach through your toes. Slowly return the right leg back to the floor and switch sides. If you are protecting your knees, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor prior to lifting your hips.
All the information presented by HEALTHeME is for educational purposes only, intended to help you make informed decisions about fitness issues. This information is NOT a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information from HEALTHeME is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.