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Sports & Fitness
December 18, 2014

Last Leg: 10 days to party-worthy limbs

Text by Simone Louis

The final chapter of 2014 and NYE celebrations are right around the corner. Here’s how to get your legs toned and svelte, ready to dance the night away….

Leg day is the easiest session to skip in your regular workout routine. Lower body training can be tough and it is often easier to focus on the showier muscles in your arms and abdomen. And if you’re like us, it will induce a whole lot of guilt when you find yourself with thunder thighs at this time of the year. Or you may be one of those people who find themselves panicking when looking in the mirror to toothpicks for legs.

Relax, breathe and let’s break this down together. We still have about two weeks, and this 10-day challenge really works for us!

One important thing to understand is that cardio alone will not burn away unwanted fat pockets. Training your legs, especially with multi-joint compound exercises, burns a higher number of calories than any other workout. It even leads to amplified fat loss, which is partially caused by the release of hormones when you train your legs. In fact, squats and weight lifts for your legs will actually help you get better abs!

If you’re ready for it, here’s the lowdown on our secret 10-day challenge. Good luck!

DAY 1:

Always begin with stretches.

Lunges

1. Stand tall with both feet together. Step forward with your right leg and then bend the right knee. Your thigh and lower leg should form a right angle with each other.

2. Lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor.

3. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and then push off your right leg to come back to the starting position.

4. Switch legs, repeat. This is one rep.

5. Repeat for 15 reps.

Outer Leg Lifts

1. Lie on your right side, keeping your feet, hips, shoulder and head in one line. Rest your right arm under your head and left arm on your hip.

2. Keeping the foot flexed, lift your left leg up sideways while leaving the right leg straight on the floor.

3. Lower the left leg with control. This is one rep.

4. Continue on the same side for 15 reps, all the while keeping your glutes, thighs and abs engaged.

5. Switch sides and repeat.

Skipping

1. Bring out your favourite skipping rope.

2. Begin single skips, continuing for 2 minutes without stopping.

3. Stop and breathe for 1 minute.

4. Skip for 3 minutes.

5. Stop and breathe for 1 minute.

6. Skip for 4 minutes.

Primitive squats

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward.

2. Cross your arms in front of you. Keep your back straight and abdominal tight.

3. Bend from your hips and knees as if you were sitting on a low chair, until your thighs are exactly parallel to the floor.

4. Push back up with your legs and return to starting position, standing up.

5. Remember to breathe in while lowering yourself and exhale while pushing back up.

6. Keep your heels in contact with the floor at all times.

7. Repeat for 15 reps.

8. Take a breather and stretch your legs.

9. Repeat for another 15 reps.

Stretch well.

DAY 2:

Warm up and stretch.

1. Walk up your building staircase or any other staircase available to you, two steps at a time. (Do not push from the ball of your foot, but rather keep your heels on the steps and use your thigh and butt muscles to push)

2. Jog down. (In this case, try landing on the ball of your foot with slightly bent knees. Do not jog down flatfooted.)

3. Repeat, continuing this without stopping for 20 minutes.

(Be sure to maintain a quick yet comfortable pace. Stop in case of knee pain.)

Stretch well.

DAY 3:

1. Change the routine with a refreshing yet toning swim. This is one of the best ways to get an absolutely streamlined, fit body. Swimming is an optimal cardio workout and a no-impact way to cross-train, since you’re working your body out in an almost zero gravity environment.

2. Swimming works your entire body, giving you benefits like enhanced endurance, flexibility, posture and cardiovascular functioning.

3. If you’re not a great swimmer, there’s absolutely no need to refrain from this. Pick up a floatation device or board, hold onto it with your arms, and paddle your way to swimmers’ legs!

4. Swim for at least an hour.

DAY 4:

Allow your muscles to rest and recuperate. Stretch in the morning and before going to bed at night.

DAY 5:

High Knees

1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.

2. Run in place, making sure to lift your knees as high as you can while doing so.

3. Pump your arms in a running motion at the same pace, keeping the muscles taut.

4. Ensure you run on the balls of your feet and switch legs as fast as possible for you.

5. Do this for 1 minute.

6. Stop, breathe and shake your legs out.

Repeat for 3 minutes.

(You can start off slow and work your way to run faster. If you want to advance it further, run forward rather than in place, increasing distance with each session.)

Prisoner Squats

1. Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointing diagonally outwards.

2. Raise your arms and bend them, interlocking your fingers behind your head.

3. Squat down as low as you possibly can, without rolling your knees inward.

4. Pause for a couple of seconds and then push upwards with your legs, straightening your body back to the starting position.

5. Continue for 15 reps.

6. Rest and shake it out for a minute.

Repeat another 15 reps.

Jumping Jacks

1. Stand up tall with your feet together.

2. Jump up high and, as you land, widen your legs to more than shoulder-width apart. As you are doing this, swing your arms to meet straight over your head.

3. Jump back into starting position, swinging your arms back down to your sides.

4. Continue this for 3 minutes. (Stay on your toes throughout.)

5. Stop and breathe for a minute.

Repeat for 4 minutes.

Wall Squat

1. Stand with your back against a wall with your feet hip-distance apart. Walk your feet forward, about 2 steps away from the wall.

2.  Bend your knees and slide your back down along the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knee joint should form a 90 degree angle.

3. Hold the position for 1 minute, engaging your legs and abs. Keep your breathing steady.

4. Stand up and release your muscles.

5. Resume the position and hold for another 1 minute.

Stretch well.

DAY 6:

Jog or go for a light run for 40 minutes.

DAY 7:

Repeat the Day 1 set.

DAY 8:

Swim or cycle for 45 minutes.

DAY 9:

Rest and recuperate.

DAY 10:

Repeat the Day 5 set.

Food and Water

Make sure to constantly hydrate your body. You don’t need to go on a strict diet, just monitor your meal portions. Ideally, the best way to complement your workouts is to have six snack-sized meals spread out over the day, as opposed to three large ones. It will help you to manage hunger better, maintain energy levels and burn fat easily. Make sure your meals include foods from all food groups to meet your nutrient needs. Do not cut out carbs.

Stick to this challenge plan based on your own physical comfort level and do take into account any health issues you may have. If you are not familiar with or have never done these exercises before, it might be wise to take help from a trained professional.

Take a picture before, during and after the 10-day challenge. You will not always notice results in the mirror, but a photograph can really open your eyes to the changes in your body.

If you get through this, cheers to good legs and make it a new year’s resolution to keep up the good work for a healthy body!

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