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She's Got Legs

To turn your gams into gems, try some of these leg exercises, designed to sprout your stems into blossoming dandies.

LEG PRESSES: Lying down on the machine, place your feet on the platform so that your feet are parallel to each other and not pointed inward or outward. Allow the weight to push your knees toward your torso. Stop when your knees form a 90-degree angle. Reverse the movement as you push with your legs, pushing your torso away from the platform. As your legs begin to straighten out, stop just short of your knees being locked. Slowly let the weight bring your buttocks down into the starting position. Try 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

LUNGES: Place the barbell on your shoulders, standing with your feet together. Have your back straight and your eyes focused straight ahead. Step forward with one leg, lowering your body into a lunge position, making sure that your knee does not extend past your toe. You knee should be bent in a 90-degree angle. Slowly straighten your leg back up, coming out of the lunge position, and returning to the starting position. Rotate legs, doing 3 sets of 14-16 reps.

LEG EXTENSIONS: Sitting in the machine, clasp your ankles underneath the pads. As you slowly raise the pads, squeeze out your quadraceps muscles, and stop the motion when your knees are locked out in front of you. Squeeze your quads for a two-count before releasing, and beginning the negative portion of the repetition. Allow your legs to slowly drop to the starting position. Repeat the motion for 3 sets of 12-15 for an excellent tear.

SEATED LEG CURLS: For a great hamstring exercise, sit in the machine with your heels resting on the pad and your back pressed against the back of the seat. Hold the handles in front of you for balance. Then, slowly curl the pad downward, squeezing out the hamstring muscles until your knees form a 90-degree angle. Hold for a beat, then slowly allow the weight to bring your legs back up into the starting position. Try doing 12-14 reps for 3 sets.

Needless to say, it is important to stretch thoroughly before each and every leg workout. Otherwise, you’ll be leaving yourself susceptible to torn ligaments and pulled muscles. Few injuries are as painful as pulled hamstrings.

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