Thursday, March 20, 2014

Leg Day; My 5 Favorite Body Weight Leg Workouts

I mentioned the "thigh gap" phenomenon the last week. I don't know if you noticed or if you didn't or whether my one aside had any impact on your thoughts. I'm not a fan of the phenom, to say the least. The next day a friend of mine shared this on facebook and discussions ensued. I didn't even read past the first paragraph or so of the article - and really, my contribution to the discussion was no more than a mention that I had just brought the topic up the other day.
But when I got home that night, hubs asked me, "what's this whole thigh gap thing? what's wrong with it?"

...and I had an answer for him - a clear, decisive, two sentence answer.
There is nothing wrong with a thigh gap, but it shouldn't be a "fitness goal". The only way to get a thigh gap is through genetics or anorexia - neither of which are a sign of fitness. 
It is with legs on the brain that I advocate healthy, strong, fit quads, glutes, and calves. These exercises won't make your thighs seem further apart, but they will make your legs strong as f*ck. Pardon my French - at least I used an asterisk.

These are my five absolute favorite at-home no-weights-necessary-but-you-can-add-them-if-you-want-to semi-yoga-inspired leg workouts. 

#strongnotskinny, right?

... in no particular order.

1. Sneaky Lunges

Start with your feet together, high on your toes, then - staying on your toes - step your right leg forward into a long lunge with a straight back leg.
Lean out, bringing your spine in line with your back leg, then step the left foot up to meet the right, keeping the knees bent and staying on your toes. Then step the left foot up into a long lunge.
Repeat for 2 minutes, or approximately 30 lunges. Make sure to stay up on your toes. That's how they're so sneaky.

2. Warrior 3 Lunges

Start in Crescent pose - a high lunge with the back leg straight. Lean out, bringing the spine in line with the back straight leg. Then transfer your weight into the front foot, lift you back leg and straighten the front knee into Warrior 3. Slowly bend the knee of your standing leg and set the back foot back down, come back into crescent.
Repeat 12-15 times on each leg.

3. Goddess Pose (or Standing Frog)

Come into a wide stance. Let your toes turn out and lower into a squat. Keep the knees tracking out over the toes. Try to keep your spine up as straight as possible. Bring your hands into prayer or straighten your arms up along your ears.
Feet can stay flat on the floor or lift up on the toes. Hold for 5-10 slow easy deep breaths. Repeat.

4. Calf Raises (option to add weights)

Stand with your feet hip distance apart and parallel. Lift up high on the toes, lower all the way back down to your heels. Repeat 20 times.
Bring the heels together and turn your toes out. Lift up high on the toes, lower all the way back down to your heels. Repeat 20 times.
Pigeon toe your feet. Lift up high on the toes, lower all the way back down to your heels. Repeat 20 times.
If you want to add weight, just grab some light dumbbells and hold them down at your sides. I sometimes use 5 lbs in each hand. You also have the option to do ballerina arms.

5. Cheerleader Jumps (option to add a medicine ball)

Come into a low squat with the feet parallel - they can be together or hip distance. Then jump up into a split, reaching the arms up or out, and land back in your squat with the feet parallel. Repeat 15-20 times.
For an extra challenge, pick up a medicine ball. When you jump up, raise it above your head

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