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Use these four exercises to strengthen your legs

Strengthening your legs is a crucial practice that helps to create a solid foundation for overall strength. Additionally, incorporating cardio and strength training is beneficial to leading a healthy lifestyle.

– Alternating Knee Lifts are a great start to introducing gentle cardio and muscle building. This exercise targets your hamstrings, quads, and glutes while improving balance. To begin, stand about hip-width apart and lift your leg to hip height, or however high your knee will go without force. Alternate left knee, and right knee motions continuously for 1-3 minutes at the fastest, consistent speed possible for your capabilities.

Squats are one of the best leg and glute strengthening exercises ever! This classic exercise brings out tremendous results. It targets hips, thighs and glutes. If you are new to exercising, you can begin using a hard chair. For both chair squats and standing squats begin with your feet a little further than feet-width apart, then bend your knees while shifting your weight to your heels until your pelvis is parallel to the floor or almost touches the chair. Then quickly return to a standing position. Repeat this motion 10-12 times as a set, take a brief rest and repeat 2-3 times, depending on your strength.

Calf raises are a tremendous leg strengthener and toner for your calves and ankles. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart near a chair, counter or another sturdy, hip-height object, and push up to the balls of your feet. Once you have gotten to the balls of your feet, hold that position for 3 seconds then slowly lower your heels to the ground. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times in a set, and complete 2-3 sets with a brief rest in between.

Step-Ups are important to include in a functional workout – it mirrors what we do every day: Walk, Climb Steps, getting in and out of a car. To complete this exercise you need a bench or sturdy box that is under knee height. Begin with feet hip-width apart, step onto the box with your right foot (be sure to keep your right knee over your right ankle) then step your left foot up and stand straight on the box. Then step backwards right then left. Repeat this exercise alternating feet to start, and complete two sets of 10-12 repetitions.