06 October, 2011
Leg Workouts for Teenage Girls
Life as a teenage girl brings with it many pressures. Among those are the desires to look fit and perform at a high level in sports. Strong and toned legs are the foundation needed to work toward these goals. To attain them and to lead a healthy lifestyle requires hard work and dedication, but it has benefits that will last a lifetime. An exercise routine based on the fundamentals of weight training is your ticket to safety and success.
When starting out, it's imperative to learn proper form for squats. Begin squatting using only your body weight, allowing your muscles and joints to become accustomed to the movement. This also allows you to focus solely on form until you perfect it. Standard squats should be performed with your feet shoulder-width apart, your head up and shoulders back. When lowering down into the squat, push your glutes back and keep your weight nearly all in your heels. Your knees should never extend out farther than your toes. Begin your routine with three sets of 15 repetitions.
No leg workout is complete without lunges. These should be performed using only your body weight as resistance until your form is perfected to ensure safety. When lunging, have most of your weight in the heel of your front foot and never allow your knee to extend out beyond your toes. Push through your front heel and squeeze your glutes to rise up from the lunge. Backward lunges are often easier to perfect if you're a beginner. All forms of lunging help with balance while toning and strengthening your legs and glutes. Start with three sets of 15 repetitions per leg.
If working out in a gym atmosphere, you should incorporate some leg machines into your routine. While machines should not make up the majority of your workout, they do have unique benefits. The leg extension and leg curl machines are effective ways to add some muscle to your quadriceps and hamstrings while putting minimal stress on your joints and with no need for a spotter. The butt blaster can also be a great shaper for your glutes. Begin all of these movements using weights that allow you to perform three sets of 15 repetitions without losing form.
Once you perfect the basic form of squats and lunges, you can add explosive versions into your routine. These are referred to as plyometrics. The quick and complete contraction of the muscles needed to perform these exercises leads to strong and toned legs. Begin the exercises in the standard squat or lunge form and push through your heels to hop off the ground with as much power as possible. Bend your knees upon landing to cushion your joints from the impact and return back to the starting position. Perform two sets of 10 of each with no weight.
Besides being beneficial to your overall health, cardiovascular training can also help you attain strong legs and perform at a higher level in other sporting activities. Running is nearly completely powered by your legs and due to its highly repetitive motion, results in a lean look. Cycling is also a leg-strength-dominated sport that can aid in building muscle and toning your butt and thighs. Perform 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity three days per week as part of your leg-training program.
No leg routine is complete without flexibility training. Stretching helps to eliminate post workout soreness and tightness that can lead to injury during other activities. It also lends itself to leaner and longer leg muscles that will give you the look you desire. End your leg resistance training and cardiovascular training sessions with 10 minutes of stretches for the legs, glutes and lower back.
- LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images