By Caroline Sandry – The workout involves some great yoga and Pilates moves, to work on your balance and stability, as well as the deep core muscles of your hips, torso and pelvis, whilst of course shaping great legs.

Leg training – add running and other exercises

Adding running and other selected workout options to your workouts will specifically shape your legs.

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1. Steady running

If your goals are toned and shapely legs and to improve your fitness and stamina then get your trainers on and head out for some long steady runs – running will burn calories and build strong lean legs. The pace will target your slow twitch (endurance) fibres and increase their oxygen processing ability.

2. Sprints and faster running

If your goal is to build shapely legs with good definition, try some sprint training, plyometrics (jumping and leaping type exercises) or studio cycling, as these will fire up your fast twitch muscle fibres which will hypertrophy (increase in size) to give you athletic legs.

leg training_2

The workout

Pay attention throughout the exercises: use slow, controlled movements and focus on the muscle groups working – for example, for the knee raise (exercise 1) focus on the glutes in your standing leg, as they will be working hard to stabilise your pelvis.

The warm up

Ski warm up

Targets: all the muscles involved in the workout.

– Stand tall, inhale and stretch your arms up beside your ears.

– Exhale, lean forward and bend your knees as you swing your arms back behind your bottom.

– Inhale and stretch up tall.

– Repeat, breathing deeply for 1 – 2 minutes.

The exercises

1:Knee raise

Targets: stability, ankles, hips, glutes and thighs.

– Stand on your right leg, draw your right knee cap up and squeeze your right glute. Keep your hips level.

– Bring your hands out in front of you at shoulder-height.

– Raise your left knee in front of you, lower without touching the floor.

– Repeat 15 times on each leg.

2: Knee pump

Targets: hips, glutes and hamstrings.

– Stand on a step with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent, palms facing in.

– Shift your weight onto your right leg, and step back into a reverse lunge with the left leg, simultaneously lifting the left dumbbell forward as in the photo.

– Keep both knees at right angles – don’t let front knee pass in front of toes.

– Drive the left leg up towards your chest as you raise your right arm.

– Perform 15 reps moving smoothly from one position to the next.

– Repeat on the other side.

3: One and a half squat 

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Targets: quads, glutes and hamstrings

– Stand on step with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by sides, palms facing in.

– Squat until thighs are near parallel to floor, keeping knees behind toes and back straight.

– Rise halfway and hold for 2sec before lowering back into full squat.

– Return to start – this is 1 rep.

– Perform 15 reps.

4: Yoga ‘utkatasana’ (awkward pose) series

leg training_4

Targets: quads, glutes, core and shoulders

1.
– Stand with feet slightly apart and parallel.

– Raise your arms out in front of you at shoulder height, palms down and arms strong.

– Sit down in an imaginary chair, keeping your heels down and shoulders away from your ears.

– Hold this position and breathe steadily for 30-60sec.

– Slowly return to standing.

2.
– Now rise up on onto tiptoes – heels as high as possible.

– Again, sink down into the seated position thighs parallel to the floor.

– Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your arms strong.

– Hold steady and breath keeping heels high for 30-45sec.

(Performing this series without your trainers will make work your feet and ankles work harder)

5: Yoga ‘tuladandasana’ (balancing stick pose)

leg training_5

Targets: back, glutes, hamstrings, core and shoulders.

– Stand with your arms stretched up beside your ears.

– Take a big step forward with your right leg as you simultaneously stretch your arms up and forwards and take your left leg out and up behind you, hinging at your hips to lower your body.

– Continue simultaneously stretching arms forward and leg back as you bring your body parallel to the floor.

– Keep your standing leg straight and your quads tensed for support.

– Hold steady for up to 30sec, remember to breathe.

– Repeat on the other side.

6: Pilates side leg lifts

Targets: hips, legs and bottom.

– Lie on your right side with your body supported on your elbow (elbow directly beneath shoulder and head and shoulder ‘lifted’ away from the floor).

– Keep your waist still as you lift and lower your left leg 15 times.

– Keep your leg up, and circle 10 times each way.

– Repeat with right leg.

7: Scissors

Targets: hip flexors, quads and core.

– Lie on your back with both knees drawn into your chest and your head up.

– Straighten one leg up towards the ceiling and scissor the other towards the floor. Your hands should guide your top leg – do not pull as this will reduce the effort in the hip flexors.

– Exhale as you scissor legs apart, inhaling quickly between each movement.

– Keep your legs straight and fully extended and your spine in neutral on the floor (never arched).

– Repeat 20 scissors.

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