3 Leg Exercises for Great
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An hour of fitness a day keeps the fat away
-- and we've got a trio of do-anywhere exercises that'll help you meet that
goal and get your legs in great shape at the same time!
The National Academy of Sciences Institute
of Medicine urges adults and children to exert themselves for at least 60
minutes a day. Whether its washing your car, cleaning the house or
walking up the stairs, anything goes... as long as youre up and moving at
a mild to moderate pace.
Many fitness experts applaud the
announcement -- they believe daily fitness can stem the growing obesity
problem. It can't hurt. More than six out of 10 Americans are obese or
overweight. Researchers have long said regular exercise is an absolute must
when it comes to staying at a healthy weight.
The Academys findings are based upon
how much activity is done by individuals who maintain a healthy weight.
According to the latest data, a person who has a job that doesnt require
much movement (think desk work) can still maintain a healthy weight by adding
routine physical activities into the mix. For those people who do engage in
high-intensity activities, 20 to 30 minutes of exercise in the target heart
rate zone four to seven days a week is enough.
We can hear many of you moaning, "There's no way I can
squeeze an hour of exercise into my busy day!" Relax. Fitness expert Michael
Stefano tells eDiets you don't have to spend an hour a day at the gym to reap
any benefits. There are many ways to accomplish the feat. Swimming or walking
will do nicely.
Stefano, the author of The Firefighters Workout (HarperCollins),
suggests you break down the hour of activity like this: 20 to 30 minutes of
strength or resistance training, and 30 to 40 minutes of mild aerobic
activity... spread throughout the day.
If you happen to be a busy mom or
construction worker (or any other occupation that entails a great deal of daily
physical work), you most likely surpass the average Americans physical
activity level, and you should not consider yourself a sedentary individual,"
realistic assessment needs to be made, but more appropriate for you might be a
shorter, possibly more intense body sculpting or fat burning program that will
still improve health, and could be squeezed into your already physically active
and very busy day. Stefano stresses that these new findings do not
invalidate the U.S. Surgeon Generals 1996 push to get Americans sweating out 30
minutes of moderate exercise (i.e. brisk walking) a day. He notes that
less-strenuous activity requires more time if you want to reap the same
Stefano is also quick to note that the
Academys findings are indicative of a routine that will ward off obesity
NOT necessarily build a firmer figure. Building muscle requires a
high-intensity toning regimen -- and today we've got a leg-toning set of
exercises that can be done in the comfort of your living room, bedroom or even
the garage in 30 minutes or less. This workout will help increase your
bodys fat-burning abilities.
Stefano's super three exercises that'll
give you better-looking legs and help you meet the recommended daily dose of
fitness include the step-up, the lunge and the squat. (We've got animated
images to make sure you do them properly!) Stefano says the lower body
comprises over 60 percent of your lean muscle mass -- while working the larger
muscles of the lower body, you'll enjoy a great fat-burning experience.
The thighs respond to these types of
exercises, Stefano says. They arent isolated or hard-to-reach
muscles. The step-ups, the lunges and the squats directly work the front and
back quadriceps, hamstrings and butt at the same time -- thats three
major muscle groups all at the same time. They also bring the lower back and
abs in to stabilize muscles. When you add the dumbbells, youre also
engaging the muscles in the arms and shoulders.
Realistically, if a guy or girl did
this twice a week, in addition to being active as the study suggests, it would
have a tremendous effect on your appearance. Its a time saver that
guarantees big results.
Stefano recommends: Begin with the
step-ups. Repeat to fatigue. Move directly to the lunge and perform 12 to 20
reps. Then move on to the squat and do 12 to 20 reps. For the lunge and the
squat, use hand weights to increase intensity. When you have done all three
exercises, rest for 60 seconds or less. Repeat entire set two or three times
depending on your level of fitness.
Place your right foot flat on the step and your
left foot flat on the floor. Exhale and push off as little as possible with the
left foot as you bring both feet up to step level (you'll now have two feet on
the step). Inhale and lower your left foot back down to the floor. Work with
body weight only, and repeat to muscle fatigue regardless of the number of
reps. Repeat with the legs reversed. While step-ups are a great toning
exercise, they also serve as a warm up for squats and lunges, and should
therefore be done in a higher rep range with no added resistance.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your
sides. Inhale and take a large step backward with the left foot to a point
where your left knee is a few inches above the floor (or as close as you can
comfortably go) and your right knee does not extend past the toes of your right
foot. Your hands, with or without dumbbells, remain at your sides; your gaze is
forward. Exhale and step forward with the left leg returning to the starting
position. Finish all reps with the left leg before repeating with the right. To
make the movement less difficult, alternate legs. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in
the range of 12 to 20 reps).
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding
your hands or dumbbells at your sides. Your head is straight, the natural arch
maintained in your back. Inhale, swing the weights (or your bare hands)
slightly forward for balance while bending at the knees and hips to a sitting
position (or as low as you can go and still maintain balance). Be sure the
buttocks don't drop below the level of your knees, and your knees do not extend
past your toes. Exhale and slowly return to a standing position, allowing your
hands to drop back down to your sides. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range
of 12 to 20 reps).