When it comes to shaping gorgeous legs, the last thing anyone wants is for bugging knee pain to be exacerbated from over doing it in the gym. Whether you’ve got a short term injury or a chronic condition like osteoarthritis, incorporating these exercises into your weekly gym routine will have you shaping great legs while strengthening the muscles that support your knee joint!
Expert tip: Doing these exercises with a medium strength resistance band around the thighs will make sure you keep your leg and hip muscles engaged.
Bring a medium to heavy resistance band around your thighs,. Starting from a quadruped position, align your wrists directly under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Keep your spine long and take a deep inhale in, and on the exhale draw your ribcage in and pull in navel to spine. Hold that core engagement as you raise one bent leg and push the bottom of your foot towards the ceiling. Lower the leg just a few inches until your knee is in line with your hip, then push the foot back up towards the ceiling. Repeat 10-15x per leg, slowly, feeling the muscle tension through your core, hamstrings, and glutes.
This exercise is very similar to the standard box squat, as the attention to form and muscle activation is the key to building lean and strong legs. Sit tall on a sturdy surface. Engage your core and push feet into the ground until you see or feel your quads contract (or tighten). Lean your chest forward as you continue to push feet into the ground and stand tall. Return to sitting slowly while keeping core engaged and pushing into the outer edges of the feet and feeling glutes slightly contract. Repeat 12-15x. To progress this exercise, hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your chest.
Lay on your back with legs extended and feet resting on a stability ball. With arms at your side pushing into the ground, lift your hips up into a bridge position. Keeping core engaged and hips at this level height, bend your knees and draw the ball in towards your glutes. Without dropping the hips, straighten your knees and roll the ball out to its starting point. Repeat 10-15x, or until hamstrings fatigue.
Stand tall with one foot on a glider, extended away laterally from your body. Keeping your chest lifted and core engaged, bend the standing knee and sweep the glidered foot behind the body in a circular motion. Press through the stationary leg to stand and bring the opposite foot forward to its starting position. If balance is challenged in this exercise, gently hold onto a surface or TRX suspension straps. Repeat 10-12x on one leg then switch sides.
Lay on your back with knees bent. Curl your hips forward, tucking your pelvis towards your navel. Maintain this core engagement as you raise one extended leg towards the ceiling. Press arms into the ground by your sides as you push the bent leg into the ground and lift hips up towards the ceiling. Pause for a one second hold at the top then lower hips slowly back towards the ground. Repeat 12-15x on one leg then switch sides. To advance this exercise, add an ankle weight to the raised leg.
Lay flat on a the ground with one knee bent and the other leg extended with toes curled towards your head. Curl your hips forward, tucking your pelvis towards your navel. With your arms by your sides, push the bent leg into the ground as you raise the extended leg towards the ceiling until it reaches the height of the bent knee. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Maintaining the pelvic curl and core engagement, slowly lower the leg back down to the ground. Repeat the leg raise on one side 10x then switch sides. To advance this exercise, add an ankle weight to the raised leg.