5 Leg Exercises That Are Just As Effective As Lunges Without Killing Your Knees

Talk to any personal trainer about the secret to toned legs and you’ll likely hear the word “lunge.” Yet if you (like so many!) dread this lower-body move, there’s good news, says Jennifer Dene, a celebrity Pilates instructor, personal trainer, and health coach in Beverly Hills, CA. “Lunges are a great leg exercise, but there are others that are equally effective,” she says. “Plus, lunges are not only a challenging exercise in terms of exertion,

This move targets the glutes and hamstrings, two of the main lunging muscles, without putting strain on the knees, says Dene. “If you have any tenderness in your knees when you do this exercise, squeeze a cushion between your legs,” she says.

  1. Glute Bridges

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Lie on your back with your knees bent and the bottom of your feet firmly on the floor about hips width apart. From this position, drive into your heels to lift your hips straight up, clasping hold of your hands beneath your body and pressing against the ground to open your hips. Hold this pose for 1 minute, breathing deeply the whole time.  Lower hips to floor and repeat 10 to 30 times.

  1. Step-ups

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Stand with dumbbells grasped two sides facing side of bench. Place foot of first leg on bench. Stand on bench by extending hip and knee of first leg and place foot of second leg on bench. Step down with second leg by flexing hip and knee of first leg. Return to original standing position by placing foot of first leg to floor. Repeat first step with opposite leg alternating first steps between legs

Repeat 10 to 30 times.

3.Chair Squats

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Slide your butt off the front of the bench with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 30 times.

4.Single Leg Balance

Stand with your back straight and your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.  Raise your right leg off the floor, and hold it there. (A) Place your arms in front of you for balance, and start lowering your butt toward the ground. Be careful so your knees don’t go past your toes. Return to the standing position

Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can. (B) Pause, then push your body back to the starting position.

Stay here 10 seconds, then switch sides.

Quick tip: To increase the intensity of this exercise, don’t use the wall or chair for support.

5.Clams

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Lie on one side, resting head on upper arm or on pillow. Bend knees to 90 degrees. Keeping feet together, rotate top knee toward ceiling, separating thighs and feeling muscles of outer hip contract. Squeeze inner thighs to lower leg back down. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides. The goal is to try to keep your hips completely still, only moving the thigh bone from within the hip socket as you do each repetition.
 

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