Your guide to Gorgeous Legs!

As our lives get busier, staying in shape can slip off the priority list.

Tamie Wexler reminds us of some simple yet effective exercises and stretches that promise stronger, leaner legs in time for summer.

We’d all love toned thighs and slender calves, right? Well, with a little exercise and by eating well, firmer, shapelier legs are within reach. According to Shira Kramer, Melbourne based Physiotherapist and International Fitness Presenter at BeActive Physio, strong legs are an important element of total body health. If our legs are strong, they can support our body during all sorts of everyday movements like lifting, pushing, pulling and walking uphill. “Strong legs will ensure less stress is placed on your spine and give you a good base for a long and strong posture,” claims Shira.

Of course, not everyone has the time to stop for a leg strengthening work out, but we usually do have time to stop for a cup of tea. Shira suggests holding a squat the next time you’re standing around waiting for the kettle to boil. “Squats are fabulous as they not only burn calories, they also firm and tone the large muscle groups of your buttocks and thighs.” Technique, she says, is important. When doing a squat for example, ensure your legs are parallel and all your weight is back in your heels, then go down until your bottom is in line with your knees. “Attention to your exercise technique is important to ensure you achieve the desired results as well as to prevent injury.” It might be helpful to book a session with a personal trainer or physiotherapist to ensure good technique.

Take Every Opportunity To Move

Throughout the day, take every opportunity to move your body. Shira recommends opting for the hilly route when going for a walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Whilst waiting for the toaster to pop or your soup to heat up, do some calf raises. Or, my personal favourite of Shira’s suggestions, clench the buttocks 5 times whenever the phone rings or you receive an email. As with any exercise program, a routine that is progressive and varied will ensure the best results.

Calf Raises

You will need a step or a low bench. Stand on the step with the balls of both feet and your heels extended over the back edge. Raise yourself up on your toes, then slowly lower your heels down below the step. Do this exercise close to a fence or rail incase you need it for balance. This exercise stretches the back of your calf muscles and improves circulation.

Single Leg Bridge

Lie on your back with one leg up at 90 degrees. Lift your hips up and down off the floor, keeping them level. Check that your core muscles are ‘switched on.’ Repeat on the other side.

Supine Ball Hamstring Roll

Lie on the floor with your heels resting on an exercise ball. Keep your toes pulled back towards you. Raise your bottom off the floor. Then, slowly roll the ball in until your knees are above your hips, then roll back away.

Ball side Leg Raise

Using the exercise ball, lie on your side - diagonally over the ball and anchor your balance with your lower leg. Raise and lower your upper leg, keeping it as long and strong as possible. For an extra challenge, add leg circles. Repeat on the other side.


Shira recommends stretching to improve flexibility and to create longer, stronger muscles. Stretching your muscles could also prevent injury during training. “Stretching should always be light and never forced, as that alone could cause more injury than some of the exercises we perform.” You should never bounce when stretching as this can tear muscles or strain them enough to tear during the course of training. For improved flexibility try to hold the stretches for 40 - 60 seconds.

Gluteal Stretch

Lie on your back with one leg bent, foot on the floor. Bring the knee of the other leg in toward you and then cross the ankle over your thigh, allowing your knee to fall outwards. Place your hands in between your knees and pull your bent leg in towards your chest. “Tension in the gluteal muscles can lead to back problems, so don’t neglect this important stretch,” she says. Repeat on both sides.

Calf Stretch

Stand arms length away from a tree or wall. Take one leg back behind you and bend your front knee. Lean forward and put your hands on the tree with your arms straight for support. Lean your hips forward and bend from your front knee. Push the back heel in to the floor. If the stretch feels uncomfortable, shorten the distance between your front foot and back heel. Repeat with the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie down with one leg straight up in the air. The other leg should be bent with your foot flat on the ground. Grip your hands behind the knee of the straightened leg, keeping your lower back and pelvis on the floor. Gently pull your leg in towards you. If you find it difficult to reach your leg, you can wrap a towel around your thigh and gently pull on the towel ends instead. Repeat on the other leg.

Butterfly Stretch

Sit on your bottom with your knees bent and out to the side and the soles of your feet together in the middle. Put your elbows on the inside of your knees and gradually lean forward, gently pressing your knees toward the ground.

Quad Stretch

Standing with your feet hip width apart, bend one leg behind you and hold the top of the foot in your hand. Gently pull the foot in towards your buttocks. To intensify the stretch, tense your gluteal muscle on that side. Repeat with the other leg. NH

For more information on Shira Kramer, or for fitness class timetables from BeActive Physio visit 1300 550 622 (10 Cecil Place, Prahran, Victoria, 3181)



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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.