If you're ready to take to the beach this Memorial Day weekend, but not quite ready to bare your lower body in shorts and swimsuits, we've got just the workout for you.
Health magazine has ideas for toning your lower body. The magazine's contributing editor Petra Kolber stopped by The Saturday Early Show this weekend to show us how.
Kolber says the exercises she demonstrated use no equipment. That makes them easy to do anywhere -- including on vacation. Also, all of the exercises are done standing, which means even while you are moving one leg, toning your glutes, thighs or calves, the other leg is also working hard, holding your body still and keeping you stable. Thus, you are not wasting any time during these exercises because you are working multiple muscles at once.
Before beginning this series of exercises, Kolber suggests stretching your hip flexors. This main muscle in your hip area can be very tight as a result of sitting all day long. When that muscle is tight, you can't really work your glutes effectively because you don't have full range of motion in your leg. Stretching the hip allows you to fully engage your glutes.
Single Leg Squat
This has proved to be one of the most effective exercises to target your "beach bum." It also works your core muscles.
Stand with your weight on one leg. The other leg is just barely resting on the floor for balance. Slowly lower down into a lunge and then press back up. You may want to hold onto a chair for balance -- this does not take away from the effectiveness of the exercise at all. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch legs.
Single Leg Hip Hinge
Again, you'll be working your glutes and your core. It may be hard to believe that these simple moves, which don't involve any weights, can actually be toning your legs, Kolber says. But you should realize that all of your body weight is focused on your glutes.
Again, stand on one leg with the other leg simply resting on the floor for balance. Place hands on hips. Bending from the hips, slowly hinge your upper body until it is almost parallel to the floor. Many people may not be able to bend this far, Kolber says. Depending on your level of flexibility, it's more likely that you will wind up at a 45-degree angle to the floor. When you begin to feel a pull in your hamstrings, you'll know you've gone about as far as you can go. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch legs.
This is a traditional exercise borrowed from dancers. You'll be working your glutes, inner and outer thighs.
Stand with heels together and feet in a bit of a natural turnout. Keeping your right leg straight, lift it in front of you to work the inner thigh. Lower it. Then, bring your feet together -- side by side. Keeping your leg straight, lift it out to the side to work the outer thigh. Lower it. Finally, bring heels back together and turn feet out slightly. Keeping your leg straight, lift behind you to target hips. Repeat the cycle 8 to 12 times with right leg, then with left leg.
Petra loves this one because it works both the upper and lower leg, as well as the core muscles. Although these exercises are primarily for toning the backside, having shapely calves makes legs look longer and more toned overall. Kolber says that women tend to forget this and focus too much on their thighs. The move addresses this problem by working on both upper and lower legs.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Bend knees until thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Be sure to keep your knees in line with your toes, do not let them go over your toes. Keeping knees bent, lift heels off ground. Keep your toes in contact with the floor. Then, push through your calf and straighten your legs. Be sure not to lock your knees. Return to beginning position. Repeat 12 times.
Lunge / Leg Extension
Again working the glutes and the front of the thigh.
Begin with your feet together. Lunge back with your right leg. As you bring your leg forward you want to wind up with your thigh parallel to floor and right foot next to your left knee. At this point, you will be standing on only your left leg. Then, extend right leg straight out in front of you, hold, and lower to beginning position. Repeat 8 to 12 times and then switch legs.