We all want great-looking legs. Women naturally tend to carry more weight in their legs and can end up bulking them up even more if they train incorrectly.
This series of exercises was inspired by Joseph Pilates and created by Kathy Grant, a Pilates master. It is designed for women who want to beautify and create a long, lean look for their legs. It also works great for those who want more tone.
Lie on your side with your head resting on your hand (elbow bent) or on your arm (elbow extended).
Align your ears over your shoulders, and shoulders over your hips, as if you were standing upright.
Pull your shoulders down, away from your ears, making your back muscles active.
Place your top arm on the floor in front of your chest.
Make sure that your shoulders and hips are evenly stacked on top of each other. People tend to roll forward or back in this position but try not to do this.
Imagine you are wearing a pair of tight jeans. Zip up your jeans and buckle your belt.
Draw your navel toward your spine (Grant often said to draw your navel back and down, toward the tailbone).
Imagine wearing a well-fitted vest. You want to draw your ribcage together so you do not pop the buttons off the vest.
Now imagine that a tailor is measuring you around the base of your chest. Make this area small enough without the tailor knowing it, so when you get your newly fitted outfit, it will be too small!
Everyone has a different bone structure. You need to adjust your legs so that your hipbone is comfortable. If your hipbone is jutting into the floor or mat too much, you may place a small pillow or folded towel under it.
Flex your feet. Reach out through the heels. Without letting your hips move, extend the top leg, leading with your heel, up about 1 foot away from the bottom leg. Then extend it another half foot, and then as high as it can go without lifting the hip. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
Once completed, put the top foot on the floor in front of the bottom leg. Grab your ankle with your top hand. Lift the bottom leg up about half a foot and then as high as it can go. Repeat this inner-thigh exercise 10 times.
Repeat the series on the other side.
People tend to want to look at the legs while performing this exercise. Avoid doing that because it knocks off your alignment, potentially straining your neck or back.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. www.lavendermamas.com