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Great Workouts For Your Quads and Calves – Part One

Updated on May 22, 2013

There are many reasons why people workout, whether to improve health, lose some fat or build muscle. It could even be a combination of all three and there could be any number of other reasons.

Whether we like to admit it or not, one of the reasons why many of us submit to exercise regimes is simply because of vanity. Although another way to put it is a confidence booster. Muscle definition – or even a physique that is more toned than normal – enables people to put their best foot forward and present themselves to the world as they want to be seen, which is no bad thing.

However, when this is the cases, the upper body can often take centre stage as it is the part of the body seen first. By contrast, the legs can go ignored as they are usually covered up and are seen as the support act rather than the main player. However, this would mean doing yourself a disservice as the legs cannot only offer a great resource for showing off, but must also be admired for their practical/physical ability.

Consider how much time you spend on your feet on any given day and couple this with the amount that you weigh and this will give you an idea of the amount of pressure the legs go through. Just because it is just your feet that hurt at the end of the day, it does not mean that your legs have not gone through a tremendous amount of work in supporting the rest of the body.

Benchmark Tests

Before embarking on a course of exercise (which has been recommended by a doctor or personal trainer), it is a good idea to undertake some tests to determine the strength of your leg muscles. These can be timed so that you can note your improvements.

A simple one to start with is to stand on one leg by lifting the other a small distance from the floor and timing how long you last. As your quadriceps get stronger, you will find that the length of time you can spend on one leg increases.

Many of us believe that the reason we are unable to stand on one leg for long is because we do not have good balance, however, were there is no problem with standing on two legs and you would still be standing upright. What is more likely to be the problem is that the body is not used to standing on one leg and the strength easily provided by two legs is not so easy when it is just one, the pressure is too much and the leg muscles start to complain.

Make the process slightly harder by raising your knee so that it forms a right angle in front of you and slowly lifting your foot out in front of you to straighten your leg. See how long you can hold your leg straight out in front of you for as long as you can.

An arguably more difficult test is the fake chair test. Place your back against a clear expanse of wall and slide down it, moving your legs out until your knees are at a right angle and remain in place as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair. This process tests the quads, which are the muscles needed when lowering our bodies (“lift with the legs, not with the back”) so it is important to keep these muscles strong.

Skipping

Whether you want to pretend that you have taken a trip back to your childhood or a boxer training for a fight, grabbing the skipping rope is a good idea for those seeking to work the leg muscles. Though it may seem like a fairly insubstantial way to exercise, this is deceptive as there are a range of benefits offered by the activity. Not only can skipping be included as part of an effective warm-up for other forms of exercise, but it also offers the added bonus of a good cardiovascular workout in its own right. Even if you do not have a skipping rope, you can still perform the action of skipping, by moving your arms in the same manner that is needed for turning the rope. However, this can result in laziness as you may not jump as high as you would with a rope. Fortunately, you can use any length of rope that you may have lying around and skipping ropes are cheap to buy


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Running/Sport

Going for a run or a jog is great for the legs as well as the heart. If running is too much for you, consider going for a long walk in an area that has some inclines so you can walk uphill. Alternatively, try wearing some ankle weights to increase the amount of work that your body has to do. Any sport which means that you are likely to undertake a significant amount of running, such as football, rugby, basketball or field hockey, will also offer your legs the means the develop and tone up.

Calisthenics

There are a wide variety of exercises that can be undertaken without the need for any special equipment that will help develop, tone and/or strengthen the muscles of the thighs and calves. Many of these may be undertaken without us even realise them; for example, when we sit down, we have to make use of the muscles in the legs to guide us into the chair. Accordingly, undertaking squats – where the feet are planted shoulder width apart and the knees are bent to squat down as if getting ready to sit in a chair – is a great way to exercise the quads. Start with 10 reps and gradually build up to more as your strength increases. Intensify the benefit of this exercise by completing squat jumps: as you straighten up from a squat, jump into the air before coming back down into a squat.

This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to follow my posts to ensure that you get more tips and hints for perfect pins.

What part of your legs do you think need some attention?

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