So, you say you want to wear cute short shorts and skirts, but your legs are not looking as svelte as you may like?
One area fitness expert offers a workout routine that, if done correctly and consistently, will get you toned up and strong.
But you’ve got to start out on the right foot.
“Before performing an exercise, you want to make sure that your muscles are nice and warm to prevent injury and to make sure that you are performing them using your full range of motion and are not limited by any stiffness,” says Steven Schwab, fitness trainer and owner of CrossFit North Wall in Crystal Lake.
Schwab offers six warm up exercises to complete before getting into the heart of your workout.
These warm up exercises can be done using any distance. Schwab suggests picking two points in your yard to sprint to and from.
Set up targets at 25 meters/yards and 50 meter/yards from a start point. When ready, start sprinting to the 25-meter/yards target and sprint back to the starting point. Once you return to the starting point, turn and sprint again to the 50-meter/yards marker and sprint back to the start.
25-Meter Broad Jumps
Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart, swing your arms and bend your knees slightly and, using that momentum, jump as far as you can. Repeat as many times as needed to cover a 25-meter/yard distance.
From a standing position, bend your knees slightly and shuffle your feet laterally from the start point to the end point. Do not cross your feet in this exercise. Make sure to keep your back straight.
Over/Under the Fence
While walking sideways, pretend to laterally high step over an imaginary high fence. Once both legs are “over” the fence, proceed to crawl under another imaginary fence sideways. Repeat until you reach the goal.
From a standing position, bend your knees slightly and shuffle sideways in a four-step technique: take one side step with your right foot, then step across and in front of the lead foot with your left foot, then take another side step with your right foot, and then step behind your lead foot with your left foot. Make sure to swivel your hips to help facilitate the foot crossover.
While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, step forward with your right leg and lower your left knee so that it just “kisses” the floor. Both knees should be at 90-degree angles when at the bottom of the exercise. Continue with the momentum and push up to the standing position, and then continue by leading with the left leg. Do this repeatedly, alternating legs.
After completing each of the warm ups — Schwab suggests working each leg equally 20 to 30 times, to and from your set points — it’s time to exercise.
Each of the following exercises should be done in increments of three to five sets, three times a week, Schwab says. The number of repetitions within each set should be based on your physical ability in order to ensure proper form, prevent injuries and gain the best results. A good range lies between 8 to 12 repetitions per set.
“When doing bodyweight exercises, the amount of work that you do depends on your individual body type and strength,” Schwab says. “Telling someone to do four sets of 10 doesn’t work for everyone. Three to five sets to failure – [your] inability to do another rep with proper form – would work better.”
Bodyweight Squats, alone or with a box
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out at 30-degree angles. Reach your arms out in front of you. Hinge at your hips to shift your body weight to your heels and lower your posterior toward the floor until the crease in your hips is below the height of your bent knees, or until your toes start to lift from the floor.
If you have trouble getting this low, open up the distance between your knees by pointing your toes outward more. Push up through your heels as you rise up to a standing position. Concentrate on sticking out your chest and keeping a straight back during the entire movement.
If you have trouble lowering yourself that low, you can use a box or other piece of furniture behind you to use as a guide. Once you have touched the box, release your weight onto the box momentarily and then stand back up to the start position. When using a box, you can open up your stance much more.
Jump Squats/Box Jumps
While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down and then explode by jumping up, bringing your knees as high as they will go. Land on your feet in a standing position. Once you are comfortable with this movement, you can add a box or elevated platform to land on. Stand about 6 to 8 inches from a secure box or platform. Jump from a standing position onto the box. Once you land on the box fully extend your hips and knees to stand in an upright position. Step backwards down to the floor and repeat.
Stand on one leg with the other slightly pointed out in front of you. While holding onto a post or secure rail, lower yourself into a squat position on the one leg while the other leg sticks out in front of you like a pistol. Then, push upward to the standing position.
“As you get stronger over time, you may not need the post or rail to hold onto to assist in helping pull yourself up with,” Schwab says.
Lie face down on an elevated platform, bench or bed so that your legs are hanging down at a 90-degree angle from your upper torso, where everything from your hips to your head, are flat horizontally. You will need something to grasp onto to prevent your torso from lifting during the exercise. Contract your glutes and your lower back in order to raise your legs up to a horizontal position while keeping them stiff and straight. Then lower them again.
This three-part health series will enlist the expertise of sports performance trainers at CrossFit North Wall in Crystal Lake to help McHenry County women strengthen and tone their bodies. Each month will focus on exercises dedicated to one specific area of the body.