Step-ups are great for you thighs and your bum - a total double whammy. Plus, PT Julia Buckley tells us the good news: that this move is great for people who struggle/hate lunges and squats: "If you struggle with squats and lunges, spending more time working on this move should help you progress in those exercises as it improves strength an mobility in the same muscles they employ."
HOW TO DO IT
Step one: Stand tall in front of a step, bench, or other sturdy platform with your hands at your sides, feet shoulder width apart. Start nice and slowly and build up a rhythm. Step up with your right leg making sure the whole foot is planted firmly on the step.
Step two: Keep your back straight, your head up, and your feet and knees pointed forwards at all times. Bring up your left foot and place it beside your right foot. Maintain a straight back and keep your head looking forward at all times during the exercise. Step down again with your right leg, followed by your left leg.
Step three: Instead of placing your foot fully back down, tap the floor with the ball of your foot before returning the left foot to the step, followed by the right. Repeat on the opposite side by returning your left foot to the floor and tapping down with the right before replacing the right foot on the step. Keep repeating on alternate sides.
MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT: It might just sound like stepping, but by GOD is it hard, so don't push yourself until you feel you've got this move down. Once you're ready, why not try adding dumbbells to the mix, or try putting your foot on the step, and then raising the other leg up towards your chest?
2. Forward lunge
Lunges are tough, man. But a lunge done right is effective as hell. Julia says this move will get some of your biggest muscles going, so your going to burn a lot of fat in the process. There's a reason why lunges are so hard - because they work out all the best muscles: not just thighs and bum, but also your calves, stomach and lower back. So it's a little pain for MAJOR gain. Plus, Julia says practicing this move will serve you well late in life, so it's definitely a move worth mastering/crying over until you get it right.
HOW TO DO IT
Step one: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a long step directly out in front of you with the right leg, planting your heal down and then your toes as you move onto the ball of your left foot behind you. Allow your body weight to be supported equally by both feet.
Step two: Lower your body towards the floor, keeping your back straight, looking forward. Lower until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Don't worry if you find yourself leaning forwards slightly, what's important is you're not bending your back, but keep your upper body tight.
Step three: Keep the front foot planted firmly on the floor as you use your front leg to push yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT: Once you've mastered the art of the lunge, try doing them with weights, or try walking lunges.
3. Lateral lunge
The inner thighs is one of the hardest places to tone, so when you find an exercise that tones and tones well, hold it close and never let it go. Julia is about to rain some sweet sweet knowledge down on you to help you get your thighs and your arse looking smokin' hot.
HOW TO DO IT
Step one: Stand with your feet as wide apart as you can comfortably manage. Raise your arms in front of you and clasp your hands together at chest height. Or hold a dumbbell in each hand if you're using weights.
Step two: Bend your right knee as you push your hips out behind you, keeping your back straight and head up. Aim to get your right thigh parallel to the floor, or as low as you can comfortably go. Keep your left leg straight.
Step three: Press the right foot into the floor as you return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side.
MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT: If you're feeling confident with this move, add some weights in to make it harder. You can do it!
Do you have any leg exercises that are great at toning? Let us know! @sofeminineUK
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