How are your 'lockdown legs'? We've definitely not been challenging our muscles as much in recent months, but now's the perfect time to step up our leg game. In response to demand from her community, personal trainer Caroline Idiens aka Caroline's Circuits has devised set of targeted exercises (no jumping!) for all ages and fitness levels to sculpt and tone legs, strengthen glutes and put a spring in your step. She's already been trialling it in her 9am online classes, with noticeable results.
"I’m on a mission to help women feel fabulous for this summer, to give them a workout which is leg-specific and to help them feel confident in their summer shorts and swimwear," says Caroline, 49. "I’ve devised a circuit which will appeal to all fitness levels, just 30 minutes long and all can be done without equipment (but with a resistance band if possible). Completed three times a week this routine can really achieve great results. The women who have been doing this with me over the past month have noticed a considerable difference in their muscle tone and the shape of their legs and they tell me they feel more confident in their clothes and report greater overall body confidence."
Caroline specialises in strength training and knows the importance of incorporating this into our fitness routines as we get older. “It's not just about looking good in your clothes it's about supporting the body and overall health we get older We lose bone density from 30 onwards and especially post-menopause, so improving our bone health and maintaining our muscles with strength training is key,” she tells us. "Many women tell me that it was the strength element missing from their fitness routine, even if they were runners and cyclists who had great cardio fitness. It's not about bulking up but feeling stronger. The legs are some of the biggest muscles in the body and they show the results of strength training quickly, you have to commit and be consistent. You will start to see results in four weeks."
Here's a quick taster video, in which Caroline demonstrates all the moves. Below, she breaks the exercises more fully. Do each set three times.
Stand with your feet in a ‘sumo squat’ stance with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and turned out.
Bend at the knees pushing your hips back as if sitting into a chair. Keep your knees out in line with toes and keep your chest lifted, shoulders back. Keep your back straight, not rounded and make sure your core is engaged. Squat, do a quick pulse, and drive up.
Keep lowering until your thighs are parallel to the floor if possible. Take your time!
Exercise 2: Reverse Lunges - 3 sets, 20 reps (10 on each leg)
Standing at the end of your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart take a big stride back with your right leg so that your back knee is at a 90-degree angle.
Ensure your left knee stays behind the toe and doesn’t bend inwards and that you stay upright with the upper body and chest lifted shoulders back.
Push through the front heel as you step your foot back to the starting position and switch to the other side.
The lower you can go with the back knee in the lunge the more you will work the leg muscles.
4. Curtsy lunges, 3 sets, 15 reps on each leg
Standing with your feet hip-width apart take a diagonal step with one foot behind the other, performing a curtsy position, bending the back knee towards the ground as deeply as possible.
Ensure you do not twist the upper body and keep chest lifted, shoulders back. Do not twist the front knee as you take the other leg back. Bring the back leg back to the standing position and repeat on this side for 15 reps. Then repeat on the other side.
4. Glute bridges - 3 sets, 20 reps
Laying on your back with your knees bent and feet directly under your knees relax the upper body especially the neck and shoulders. Then tilt your pelvis gently towards you and in doing so push your weight through your heels taking your hips off the floor.
Squeeze your glutes as you raise your hips, taking a pause at the top and then gently lowering to the floor. You can also use a resistance band
above the knees for an extra challenge.
5. Side-lying leg lift - 3 sets, 15 reps on each leg
Targets: outer thighs /glutes
Lie on your side with your bottom knee bent underneath you, ensure you are in a straight line.
Support the head. Flex the foot and slowly raise the leg, focus on leading with the heel, engage the core as you lift the leg. Do not go too high and make sure it’s a slow raise! You can add a band for more of a challenge.
6. Donkey kicks, 3 sets, 15 reps on each leg
On all fours, with your shoulders over wrists and a strong straight back and your core engaged. Without rounding the spine engage your abs and keep a 90-degree bend in your knee.
Slowly raise the leg straight back up and toward the ceiling ensuring your back does not arch. Slowly bring back down and repeat.
Follow Caroline on Instagram for more workout inspiration and visit her website here.
MORE GLOSS: A beginner's guide to how to exercise in the menopause