Body Sculpting For Women: 5 Key Exercises For A Complete Leg Workout

5 basic moves to give your legs great shape and strength

5 Key Exercises for a Complete Leg Workout: Women

The legs and buttocks are a common area of concern for women in terms of their shape and appearance. However, there is hope. With a balanced diet and adequate exercise, women can maintain a shape they'll be proud of. In addition to good nutrition and aerobic exercise, research has shown that strength training is essential for getting in shape. The following exercises can help to increase muscle tone and strength, and can be done at home with no equipment.

#1: the "˜squat'. This exercise is a great move for both the front (quads) and back (hamstrings) of the thigh as well as the buttocks. To begin, stand with feet shoulder width apart. As the name of the move implies, squat down as if about to sit down in a chair, keeping feet flat on the floor. Next, straighten legs and stand back up. Take care not to squat to deeply so as not to put too much strain on the knees. Goal: 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions once or twice a week. For a more advanced move, hold hand weights at your sides or a barbell across your shoulders on your back.



#2: the "˜lunge'. This is another move that is great for both the front and back of the thigh and the buttock. Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart. Move your right foot forward as if to take a step and lower the body, being careful not to step too far forward (do not allow your knee to go past your toes). Push back up to the original standing position and repeat. Do all repetitions on one leg and then switch legs. Goal: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions once or twice a week. Again, to make the move tougher, hold hand weights at your sides.

#3: the "˜curl'. This move works well for the hamstrings and uses a bench with a leg curl station. Begin by lying face down on the bench and place your feet under the bar with the foam pads. Move feet towards the back of your thigh, pulling the weight upwards. Slowly lower it back in place, causing a curling motion with your legs. Adjust the amount of weight as needed. Goal: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions once or twice a week. This move could also be duplicated at home by lying on your stomach on the floor and wearing ankle weights.

#4: the "˜extension'. This move is great for the front of the thigh, known as the quadriceps. Sit on a bench with an extension station. Hook your feet under the bar with the foam pads. Lift your feet upwards, until your legs are fully extended and straight. Bend the knees and slowly lower your feet back down to the starting position. Adjust the weight as needed. Goal: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions once or twice a week. To duplicate this move at home, use ankle weights. Begin by sitting on the floor, knees up and bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your arms slightly behind you and straighten them with your hands flat on the floor, allowing your arms to support most of your weight. Hold one leg up, several inches off the floor and extend it by straightening the knee and lifting the foot. Bend the knee and lower your foot back to the original position but don't rest your foot on the floor, instead, repeat the move until you have completed all repetitions for that leg and then switch to the other leg.

#5: the "˜toe raise'. This move will give great shape to the lower part of back of your leg, commonly referred to as the calf muscle. Stand with feet shoulder width apart either on a flat surface or the edge of a step (make sure to hold onto a stair rail or something stable to maintain your balance). Using your calf muscles, raise your heels so that you are standing on your toes. Then slowly lower your heels back to the starting position and repeat. Goal: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions once or twice a week. Again, to make the move tougher, hold hand weights at your sides only if you are doing the move on the floor or flat surface.

Choose a couple of these moves each week (be sure to alternate them) and you're sure to see great results: shapely and strong legs that anyone is sure to envy.

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