How do you make an exercise more difficult? Add weight, right? Sure, that's one way, but it's not the only way to up the ante on your leg workouts.
Isometric exercises — holding your body in a contracted position — will test your muscular strength and endurance. And this leg workout, built by certified personal trainer April Whitney, CPT, is a great place to start.
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Move 1: Banded Wall Sit
- Stand about an arm's length away from a wall, resistance band looped around both legs above your knees.
- Lean your back against the wall and bend the knees to 90 degrees.
- Actively press the knees out and maintain this seated position, arms at your sides.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Move 2: Marching Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, feet flat on the ground and knees pointing toward the ceiling.
- Keeping your heels rooted, lift your hips off the ground, pushing them toward the sky.
- Holding this position, lift one foot a few inches off the ground.
- Hold here for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Bring your foot back down and lift the opposite foot.
- Alternate left and right for 20 reps total.
Move 3: Sumo Squat Isometric Hold
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and turned out at 45 degrees.
- Bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat. Keep your chest up, back flat and knees in line with your toes.
- Hold at the bottom of the squat for 30 seconds.
- Press into your heels and return to standing
If you want to make this move even more challenging, add a few pulses to the bottom of the sumo squat.
Move 4: Banded Glute Bridge to Abduction and Hold
- Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, feet flat on the ground and knees pointing toward the ceiling. Loop a resistance band around both legs above your knees.
- Keeping your heels rooted into the floor, lift your hips off the ground, pushing them up toward the sky.
- Holding this position, press your knees out and hold for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Bring your knees back in line with the hips before lowering your hips back down to the ground.
Move 5: Side-Lying Hip Abduction
- Lie on your right side with your right knee bent for support.
- Lift your left a foot into the air. Lift your bottom hip off the floor so that you're supporting yourself on your right forearm and knee.
- Point the toes of your left foot down toward the ground.
- Move the leg a few inches behind your left hip.
- Hold this position for 15 seconds.
- Lower back down to the ground before you begin your next rep.
To make this exercise even more intense, loop a resistance band around both legs above your knees, Whitney says.