Today we’re going to show four leg stretches to elongate and limber up the leg muscles. We’re also going to show four leg exercises targeting the quads, hamstrings, calves and inner thighs.
Some people are blessed with naturally defined legs while others have to work hard at it. However, with enough hard work, great looking legs are possible for everyone! There are a variety of reasons for making sure the legs/lower body are exercised as much as the upper body as outlined here.
Reason #1 – You Will Look Ridiculous
Having large pecs, shoulders and biceps and triceps make undeveloped legs look like a total mismatch, which they are.
Reason #2 – It’s Absolutely Necessary
Lower body strength is essential for many sports activities. To play tennis, football, basketball, and other intense sports, lower body strength is essential for stability and power to the upper body.
Reason #3 – Your Body Will Be More Effective
Having a strengthened lower body will make upper body exercises more effective. To handle heavy lifts, leg muscles need to be strong to support lifts. The stronger they are the more weight can be lifted, and the steadier you are.
Reason #4 – Assist in Weight Loss and Increases Metabolism
The higher muscle content the body contains, the more energy is needed to maintain it, and consequently, the faster your metabolism. The muscles in your hips and legs are the largest muscle group in the body so the more muscle is developed in those areas, the more the body has to work to maintain them, leading to faster metabolism and weight loss, or at least avoidance of weight gain.
Before stretching, it’s best to warm up the big muscle groups. Stretching provides two key benefits. First, it prepares your muscles for exercises and reduces your risk of injuries. Second it improves flexibility for every day movements like bending over, skipping over puddles and avoiding falls. I should also add here that it’s important to stretch out after working out to release any lactic acid buildup. This buildup often produces muscle soreness and fatigue which can make you skip your next exercise appointment.
These stretches can be done before and after exercising. Note that if performed before exercising, consider them as gentle stretches to prepare muscles for activity. If performed after your workout they can be more intense.
Sit at the end of glide bar facing the tower, grab handles and extend legs in front. Hinge your upper body forward and let chest fall towards thighs for a hamstring, back and arm stretch.
Inner Thigh Hurdle
While seated, bring soles of feet together and hinge forward at the waist for an inner thigh, back and arm stretch.
Lay face up on glide bar with back to tower, height bar should be level 6 or above. Extend one foot on the foot platform and other foot on floor. Allow platform knee to bend while keeping other toe on floor for a quad stretch. Switch legs.
In above position, extend one leg to 45 degree angle, grab by the calf or thigh depending on flexibility, and pull leg towards your chest and flex feet. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds on each leg.
Quads and Inner Thighs (Adductors)
For quads, one leg squats are performed while lying on glide bar facing foot platform. Place one foot on the platform and lift the other leg in air. Perform controlled, steady squats ending each with a full extension to squeeze the glute. An option is to simultaneously extend and bend the other leg in air. Perform about 20 for each leg.
For inner thighs, stay in position and lift one leg. Extend leg to side and squeeze it back to perpendicular position. Make sure to keep lower back on glide bar as you go through the exercise. Repeat 20 times for each leg. An option is to circle the leg, leading back up to perpendicular position with the inner thigh.
Lie face down on glide bar facing tower. Place both feet on the platform. Lift and lower heels about 20 times, then perform lift and lower with one foot for 20 reps and then the other foot for 20 reps. Remember to keep the core engaged and the glutes tight.
Using the Pilates attachment place foot in harness and attach cable. Lay face up facing away from tower and place the other foot on platform. Lift and lower extended leg with harness leading with the hamstring. Again make sure to keep lower back on glide bar. Perform 20 times for each leg.