There are lots of reasons to love your legs–the key one being that they likely help you to get from point A to point B. However, despite the practical side of things, you might not be showing your stems the love they deserve. Why? Oh you know, because we’re women and have a hard time accepting when parts of our body aren’t perfect. And even though you know full well that perfection is never the goal, it’s easy to obsess when wanting a better body is not replaced by having a better a body.
It’s time for all of that to change! Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. No matter what your relationship status shows on Facebook, it’s time to lend some love to your legs. Here’s how:
Lack of Thigh Gap
We start with this “issue” because it’s sort of recent trend that we really wish would just go away. Thigh gap, if you don’t know, is when you stand with your feet side-by-side and legs straight. If you can see through your thighs, then you have a thigh gap. If you don’t…gasp, you’re probably a normal human. That’s not to say women who have thigh gap aren’t normal, it’s just that in order to have thigh gap, you have to be incredibly lean–like almost stick-figure skinny. If that’s your goal, then so be it. But you shouldn’t berate yourself if your thighs touch. Women tend to carry more muscle and body weight in their lower halves, so thigh gap is in a sense asking women’s bodies to defy nature.
On the other end of the thigh spectrum are thunder thighs. Again, women tend to carry more weight–muscle included–in their quads and hamstrings. However, if you feel your upper legs are out of proportion with the rest of your body, focus on toning up and shedding some of the excess weight.
Show some love: Legs respond well to strength training, but since your thighs are already ample, keep the weights low and repetitions high. This will work the muscles in a way that is almost cardio like, causing your heart rate to rise and the fat-burning to increase. Some exercises to try:
- Dumbbell deadlifts: Hold a low weight dumbbell (e.g., 10-15 lbs) in each hand in front of your body with your palms facing you. With your feet at about shoulder width and your knees slightly bent, bend from the waist with a flat back and allow the weights to go toward the floor. Return to the starting position by squeezing your glutes and using your upper leg muscles. Do 3 rounds of 15-18 reps.
- Banded squat steps: Place a resistance band around your ankles. Starting on your right side, step out the side about shoulder-distance apart, and squat so that your butt drops below parallel. Step your left foot in as you return to standing. Do 20 walking reps on your right side, then switch to the left and repeat.
Short and Stumpy
Try as you might, exercise is little match for genetics. If you have short legs, no workout is going to make them longer, and thus make you taller. With that said, you can adjust your training regimen to focus on exercises that give the appearance of longer and leaner muscle versus short and stout bulkiness.
Show some love: Since dancers are known for their long graceful legs, take a page from their workouts to give your legs the look of length. Barre and pilates classes are a great place to get a group workout. If you’re on your own, try:
- Leg raises: Standing alongside a wall or chair to help with balance, lift and lower your leg. Be sure to keep your core tight, your back straight, and to lift from the hip. Complete 3 rounds of 10 reps on each leg.
- Dancer squat: Stand with your legs wide and your toes slightly pointed out. Sit into a squat position, making sure your knees stay in line with your toes. Hold this position, and at the same time lift your heels so that you are standing on your toes. Return to the starting position while still on your toes. Drop your heels to return the starting position. Complete 3 rounds of 12 reps.
Reducing fat in one specific spot isn’t possible, but that doesn’t mean your saggy knees have to keep you from wearing cute shorts and skirts.
Show some love: In addition to genetics and poor diet choices, weak quads may be part of the flabby knees equation. Try these exercise to tone up the important leg muscle group:
- Single leg squat: If you have access to a leg press machine, you can pile on some plates and get the legs engaged. But for a bodyweight exercise you can do anywhere and have the same effects, try a single leg squat. Balance on one leg, placing the toe on the other foot lightly on the ground or lifted for more challenge. Sit back into a squat trying to get your butt to parallel. Stand back up to return to the starting position. Do 3 rounds of 8 reps on each leg.
- Wall Sits: Your quads will quickly burn from this exercise that requires little movement. Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about hip-width distance apart. Slide down the wall so that you look as though you’re in a seated position, making sure your knees don’t track over your toes. Hold this position for a count of ten, and then stand back up. Complete 5 rounds of 10-count or longer holds.
What bugs you about your bottom half? Share with us in the comments!