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  Fitness & Weight Management

June 2011
Put Your Best Leg Forward!
Dinaz Vervatwala
 
The sun is smiling on us and nothing seems more inviting than a pool of water to beat the sweat and just relax. But many of us shy away from the pool as we feel that we may not have pool-ready legs. It’s not too late to start working on toning those legs.

The lower body is home to some of the strongest and biggest muscles of the body. The main muscle groups are located in the front of our thighs (quadriceps), back of our thighs (hamstrings) and in our glutes (gluteals). Training these muscles can be quite challenging, as they tend to get sore after a good workout. But if we persist and pull through it all, these muscles are known to respond extremely well to the right type of fitness training.

Commit to 20-30 minutes of training every day, six times a week. Set aside three days a week for cardio or aerobic training. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that targets the legs like jogging, cycling, spinning or even dancing. It cannot be stressed enough that consistent cardio training is the key to burning fat in your body. Cardio training lays the foundation for sculpting and creating visual changes in your body. Remember to stretch before and after a cardio workout.

Lower body resistance training does not require you to go to the gym. Squats and lunges may be old-fashioned, but they are the bread and butter of lower body strength training, the mainstays of most leg workouts and with good reason. They involve several joint movements and muscle groups of the lower body, mainly the quads, the hamstrings and the glutes. They are appropriate for anyone who wants to strengthen his or her legs and they deliver quick results. Always begin a strength training routine with a five-minute warm-up and end with a cool down.

The moves outlined here should be performed on days other than your days of cardio training. Do 15 repetitions of these exercises. Start with one or two sets and slowly increase the number of sets to three.

Reverse lunge with knee raise
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands on hips. Lunge back with right leg until left thigh is parallel to the floor. Rise up, shifting weight to left foot, as you bring right leg to hip height in front of you. Return to start position and repeat. Do 15 reps, then switch sides to complete set.

Bent-legged dead lift
Hold a weight (kettlebell) with both hands (or dumbbell in each hand) in front of you and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Bend forward from hips, until back is nearly parallel to the ground, as you lower kettlebell toward feet, keeping it close to body. Remember to not arch your back. Stand up and repeat.

Side lunge
Hold a weighted ball or a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest and stand with feet hip-width apart. Lunge to the left as you reach ball outside left shin. Keep your knees aligned with your heels. Step back to starting position; repeat. Switch sides (lunge and reach to the right) to complete set.

If you’re a beginner, start slowly by doing 2 sets of 8-10 reps each. As you get gradually stronger, increase your reps and sets. You will see visible results in six to eight weeks and everyone at the pool will see that your bottom half is indeed your better half!

Squat with leg lift
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. Lower into a squat, till knees are parallel to the floor. The knees should be in line with the heels. Rise up as you raise left leg out to the side. Return to start position and repeat. Do 15 reps, then switch sides to complete set. If this feels too easy, hold a weight with both hands in order to add more resistance.

Dinaz Vervatwala is the Founder and Managing Director of Dinaz's Fitness Studio Pvt.Ltd.,Hyderabad. A certified sports and fitness trainer, she is a Guinness Record holder for the longest aerobic marathon in the world.


    
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