5 Leg Extensions
Very few exercises target just the quadriceps, but this is one of them. It’s most effective on a gym machine, but if you don’t have access to a gym, you can also do this move at home sitting in a chair with ankle weights. How to do leg extensions: Using the leg extension machine at the gym, select a weight you can comfortably lift but will challenge you. Secure your legs behind the brace near your shins and grab hold of the handles by your sides. Squeeze your quads as you lift the bar out in front of you. Don’t lift it all the way to the top or lock your knees. Slowly lower back to start.
4 Frog Hops
This exercise takes the standard squat and adds a plyometric aspect. It’s a bit more challenging than a squat, but it’s also a great way to mix up your lower body workout routine. How to do frog hops: Start in the standard squat position — legs hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward, and back straight — with your hands behind your head. Bend your knees and lower like you are sitting in a chair. Once you’re as low as you can go, engage your quads and jump up as high as you can. Land in the starting position. Make sure you keep your back straight the whole time and don’t let your knees extend over your toes.
3 Step Ups
If your workout is getting a bit too routine, it’s time to step it up. Literally. Find a bench or chair or box about knee height for single step ups or try a full staircase for a series of step ups. How to do step ups: Step up onto it with your right leg but don’t lock your knee. Let your left leg hang down behind you, and then transfer your weight to it as you step down. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. Once you’ve mastered the basic form, you can add weight by holding a dumbbell in each hand.
There might not be anything new or fancy about squats, but they sure are effective in toning your quads. And if you get bored with standard squats, take a wider stance for sumo squats, add weights for front squats, or turn your feet our for plie squats. How to do squats: Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip distance and your toes pointed slightly outward. Bend your knees and lower your butt as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight and make sure your knees don’t extend over your toes or bend inward. Raise your arms out in front of you for balance. Once you’ve lowered as far as you can, drop your arms as you straighten your legs back to the start. For an advanced version, hold a dumbbell in each hand near your shoulders (front squat).
There’s a reason lunges are so popular: they’re relatively easy to do yet work all the muscles of the lower body—butt, calves, hamstring, and yes, quads. You can either perform stationary lunges (described below) or string them together for walking lunges. How to do lunges: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your right leg and bend both knees so that the left knee hovers above the ground behind you and your right knee is directly above your right foot. Both knees should form 90° angles. Push off your right quad to return to start. Keep your back straight through the entire range of motion. Repeat the steps with the left leg. For an added challenge, you can hold 5 to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand.
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