5 Moves for Great Legs

Ready to strengthen and shape your legs for that short black dress, tennis skirt, or just to feel better when you look in the mirror? To get your legs looking their best, you have to work all of your major leg muscles, along with the many other supporting muscles. The main muscles in your legs include the quadriceps and hamstrings in the upper leg, and the calves, made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the lower leg. Jordan Shackelford, managing partner at Shred415 North Shore, our “Best of” small gym, recommends these five easy, do-anywhere leg moves.

Squat With Leg Raise

Step 1: Place a resistance band around your ankles. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Lower down to a squat, keeping your chest up and your butt back.
Step 3: Push to stand, and raise your right leg out to the side.

Alternate sides for a total of 20.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, abductors (leg muscles on the outside of your leg) and gluteals (butt)


Squat With Knee Raise

Step 1: Stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Join your hands together at chest level.
Step 2: Lower down to a squat, keeping your chest up and butt back.
Step 3: As you push to stand, bring your right knee up to meet your right elbow.

Alternate sides for a total of 20.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hip flexors, lower abdominal and gluteals


Dead Lift With an Overhead Press

Step 1: Start standing with legs apart, holding an appropriate weight (start with 5 pounds) in both hands, at hip level.
Step 2: With knees slightly bent, back straight, head up, bend down until you feel your back starting to round.
Step 3: Push to stand and press the weight overhead with bent arms. Lower the weight back to hip level.

Repeat 10 times.

Muscles worked: hamstrings, lower back and shoulders


Lunge With a Twist

Step 1: Start standing, feet apart, holding a weight in both hands, elbows bent at 90 degrees.
Step 2: Step forward with your left leg into a lunge. Make sure your left knee does not go beyond your ankle.
Step 3: While in the lunge, twist to the left using the weight to guide your twist.
Step 4: Move out of the twist and straighten legs before dropping back into the lunge and twisting again.
Step 5: Return to the starting position and do the right side.

Repeat 10 times on each side.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors (muscles of the inner thigh), calves, obliques and gluteals


Calf Raises

Step 1: Start standing with feet slightly apart. Hold a weight at chest level with both hands.
Step 2: With an upright posture, rise up onto your toes.
Step 3: Slowly lower down.

Repeat 10 times.

*You can also point your toes in and out to vary the muscles worked. Try single leg raises without a weight (you might need to use the wall for support).

Muscles worked: all the muscles of the calf and feet


Schackelford suggests starting with one set of 10 on each side, working up to three sets. You may consider increasing the weight as you get stronger.

Add some cardio with a run on the treadmill or a power walk through the park and enjoy strong, shapely legs that will power you through the day – and may turn a few heads along the way.

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