If you want to have shapely legs, there's no way you can neglect your quadriceps. You use this large muscle group that runs along the front of your thigh each time you take a step. Targeted exercises can strengthen your quadriceps, resulting in reduced body fat and increased stamina. Additionally, the exercises can add shape and definition to your legs. While practically anyone can keep their quadriceps in shape by walking up a few flights of stairs, some exercises offer a more targeted approach to strengthening the quadriceps.
In addition to your quadriceps, this free weight exercise also works your glutes. Begin by taking a dumbbell in each hand and standing upright so that your hands rest along your sides. Step forward 2 to 3 feet with your right leg and slowly bend your front knee so that your body begins to lower. Keep your torso upright and make sure your knee does not extend forward beyond your toes as you slowly dip down and return to the starting position. Alternate legs in between repetitions and be sure to tighten your quadriceps as you go down to help target the exercise.
The step-up is a natural resistance exercise that accesses a deep workout through the weight of your body alone. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your right foot on top of the step. Engage your abdominal and quadriceps muscles so that they are tight and lift yourself so that your left foot is raised up to the step. Step both feet back to the floor before repeating the exercise with your left foot as your lead foot. For best results, perform this exercise to music and develop a rhythm pattern to the music as you exercise, and for an extra challenge, hold a set of dumbbells in your hands.
This technique is popular among martial artists who practice Kung Fu, Wushu and other traditional Chinese martial arts. Attempt the horse stance by stepping your left foot out to the side so that it is roughly twice the width of your shoulders. Make sure your feet are in one line as you slowly bend your knees while keeping your back erect. Lower your body until your hips are just above your knees and you feel a burning or shaking in your thighs and quadriceps. Breathe deeply and hold the posture for 30 to 90 seconds, or as long as possible before slowly returning to the standing position. If you’re feeling truly dedicated, mimic the Shaolin monks by lighting a stick of incense and watching it burn as you maintain a horse stance posture.
Always consult your doctor or personal physician when undertaking a new exercise regimen that is vastly different from your current physical fitness level. Inform your doctor about your plans to begin strength training your leg muscles and inquire whether or not you are healthy enough to reach all of your fitness goals. If you experience any sharp shooting pains or discomforts while exercising, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
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