You may not have an hour to devote to a full-body gym session, but everyone can find five minutes to spare! Work to tone and shape your legs with this quickie workout; perform each of the following exercises for one minute. If you have a little more time to spare, then repeat this sequence two to three more times.
Number 1: Lunge
- Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up (pick a point to stare at in front of you so you don't keep looking down). Always engage your core.
- Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn't touch the floor.
- Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
- Switch sides, and then come back to the starting position. Move through as many lunges as possible for one minute.
Number 2: Side Skaters
- Start in a small squat. Jump sideways to the right landing on your right leg. Bring your right leg close to your left ankle, but don't let it touch the floor.
- Reverse direction by jumping to the left with your left leg.
- Keep alternating sideways jumps for one minute.
Number 3: Twisting Fierce Pose
Photo: Jenny Sugar
- Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead. Hold for eight breaths.
- Once you've held traditional Fierce (aka Chair) Pose, exhale to cross your right elbow over to your outer left knee. Press your palms together, and actively push your bottom elbow against your thigh to lift and rotate your chest up, increasing the twist. Pull your right hip back slightly, making sure both knees are parallel. Stay here for eight breaths.
- Then inhale as you press into your feet and lift your torso, rising back into Fierce pose. Exhale to cross your left elbow over your right outer knee, holding for another eight breaths on this side.
Keep reading for two more exercises to help work your legs.
Number 4: Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts
- Lying on your side, lengthen your bottom leg and cross your top leg over it. Rest either your knee or foot on the floor. Prop your head up with your hand or rest your head on your arm.
- As you exhale, lift your bottom leg up, and inhale as you lower it back down. Your torso should stay still while you do this.
- Do as many reps on one side for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side for an additional 30 seconds.
Number 5: Hamstring Curl in Exercise Ball
- Start by lying flat on your back with an exercise ball under your heels. Bridge your hips up, and hold that position through the entire exercise.
- Flex your feet, and dig your heels into the ball. Place your arms straight out to your side for support — don't use them, though; they are just for support.
- Slowly roll the ball toward your body as you curl your heels. Keep your hips in the bridge position; don't thrust them toward the ceiling as you do the move.
- Then slowly return to the start position (straight legs, hips bridged) to complete one rep.
- Do three sets of 12, or as many as possible for one minute.