Top 10 anywhere leg exercises
Now there’s no excuse not to work out your
legs more often: these
are designed to be performed wherever you are.
Calf raise and bounce
Stand up straight, holding on to a door handle or chair. Pull yourself up on to
your tiptoes then lower yourself all the way down until you’re sitting on your
heels. Then, when you have reached the ground, bounce on your heels four times.
Slowly pull back up to a standing position. Repeat four times. Concentrate on
using your legs to do the pushing: don’t be tempted to let the door handle take
Single leg raises
Still holding on to the handle, take the leg furthest from the handle and lift
it out to the side, pausing in three places on the way up, about 15 cm (6
inches) apart each time, and then again on the way down. As you lift your leg,
remember that the third stage is supposed to be the hardest. Swap sides. Repeat
each side four times. Keep an eye on your
throughout: don’t lean forward as you lift your leg and put it back down.
This is another good exercise to do when you’re out performing your
skipping for a while instead of walking – it will increase your
heart rate and will also give your legs a more strenuous workout. The higher
you bring your knees, the more work they will be doing. Even though you will be
raising your legs quite high, try to keep the skips fairly close together so
that you can fit in the maximum number.
You will need about 20-30 m (65-100 feet) of unobstructed grass in order to do
this properly. Start on all fours, then jump your feet in so that they’re next
to your hands, then spring your hands forward another length, bring your feet up
to join them and so on. Aim to do around twenty bunny hops. This exercise will
also give your arms
a bit of a workout, but it shouldn’t be attempted if you have weak
if in doubt, jump on the spot or skip instead.
In the gym
This exercise works the
hamstrings (the muscles situated at the backs of the
thighs). Your legs should be fully extended, ankles on top of a cushioned pad
and your back at right angles to your legs. Slowly bend your legs so that you’re
in a normal sitting position, pause, then return your legs to their outstretched
staring position. Remember to exhale as you lift the weights and inhale as you
lower them. The whole exercise should take around four to six seconds.
This works the quadriceps (at the fronts of the thighs). With your ankles
secured behind the cushioned pad and toes pointing straight ahead, slowly extend
your legs until they are stretching straight out in front of you, hold and then
lower them back down. To get maximum benefit, go slowly and exhale as you’re
lifting your legs up. Do as many reps as you can manage. After two or three
sessions, see whether you can slightly increase the ‘hold’ when your legs are
At work – under the desk
Extend one leg so that it is parallel with the other knee. Flex the raised foot,
then bounce the raised leg up and down. The smaller the movement, the more
effective it will be. Aim for about twenty small bounces, then slowly squeeze
the leg back to its original position and swap legs. To target the inner and
outer thigh muscles, repeat the exercise but move your leg out to the side and
back instead of up and down. For the inner thigh muscles specifically, turn your
foot out to the side when you flex it; your ankle should be pointing towards the
Lower leg stretches
Lift up your leg so that again it stretches straight out in front of you.
Imagine you are pulling your foot back in towards your body, so that your heel
is the most protruding part and your toes are almost pointing backwards towards
your body. This should enable you to feel a strong stretch in your calf; make
sure that this is a comfortable stretch for you. Now, keeping that stretch,
point your toes forward and count to ten.
Repeat twice on each leg.
Stretches – anywhere
Yoga downward facing dog
Position yourself on all fours, your palms flat to the floor, slightly further
apart than your shoulders, fingers spread wide. Your feet are on tiptoes. Your
spine is arched and your head hangs towards the floor. Feel your spine lengthen
and stretch out because of the weight of your head. Now, slowly lower your heels
to the floor and feel the stretch all the way down your leg. Taking each foot in
turn, lift the heels off the floor and then as it hits the ground again, lift
the other foot off simultaneously. Stay like this, or with the heels flat to the
floor, for a minute or so, or as long as is comfortable.
Yoga dancer’s pose
Standing straight, focus on a spot on the wall to help you
balance. Lift your
right arm, fingers pointing forward, until it is just above shoulder height, and
lift your left leg out behind you, as far up as you can, until you can balance
easily. It takes practice – focusing on a fixed spot certainly helps.
For a great leg workout, you need to
warm up with some light
or ride a
bike for about 10 minutes to get the blood pumping and to loosen up.
your legs out and get ready for the hard work to come.