If you’ve ever woken up with sore legs (hmm… not me, certainly not in the past 3 weeks… ha!), you realise just how significant these lovely limbs are. The older I get, the more I’m struck by how often people lose their independence because of their inability to care for themselves physically, and this is too often a result of loss of strength. It doesn’t happen overnight. No, it happens little by little, that insidious weakness that gradually creeps in. Then one day you sprain your wrist and all of a sudden you can’t get out of your chair anymore… Waaait… WHAT??! That’s right, you can’t get up, because you’ve using your arms to push yourself out of that chair for so long that you didn’t even realise your legs couldn’t manage it on their own anymore.
Ok, so maybe I’m being dramatic… but maybe not!! Some of us reckon we’re “too young to think about it,” but now is the time… because it’s in our 30’s and 40’s that strength begins to decline, unless we do something about it. Here’s a story for you: I’ve had a chronically sore hamstring for over a year now. It would get a bit better if I completely rested it- no running, no lifting, etc., but as soon as I did anything, it would be sore again. Nothing unmanageable, just annoying. My new training program has me lifting “heavy,” especially for my glutes and hamstrings, to build up my lower body for competition. And now, 3 weeks later, I have exactly zero soreness in that hamstring. I think it was just weak, and now that I’ve strengthened it, it feels strong and healthy again. So there you go… use it or lose it.
I’m not saying you need to lift heavy weights to maintain your strength as you get older, but you do have to do something. So I’ve conveniently made this at-home leg workout for you! It contains only 5 exercises, uses only your body weight, should take you only about 20 minutes to complete… and it’s kind of fun. I like it because it works all the big muscle groups in your legs and hips. If you do it twice a week, you’ll be good to go. Give it a try and let me know what you think. But if you have any issues with your knees or back, please check with your doctor before doing it, and as always, pay attention to good form. Have fun!
Squats: start with your feet about hip width apart. Sit by pushing your hips backwards, keeping your weight in your heels. Make sure your knees are behind your toes. You can use your arms for counter-balance.
Reverse lunges with hip extension: step backwards with one foot, dropping into a lunge, then as you come back to starting position, lift your back leg, squeezing the muscle in your hip to lift. You can either do all the reps on one leg, then switch, or alternate sides each time. Do 12 on each side either way.
Side squats with cross-over lift: from your starting position, step sideways into a squat, keeping your hips back and your knees behind your toes. As you stand up, bring your leg up and slightly across your body to engage your abs. Step back down into a squat, then stand up, bringing the other leg up. One lift on each side = 1 repetition.
Curtsy lunges: from your starting position, step sideways with one leg, and then drop into a curtsy with the other leg crossing behind you. Push back to start and repeat on the other side. One curtsy on each side = 1 repetition.
Plie squats: start with your feet a bit wider than hip width and your toes pointed outward. Sit down and back into a squat, keeping your chest upright and your knees wide over your toes. You might not go down as far as in a regular squat.