Don't have time to get to the gym? No problem. You can strengthen your legs without even getting out of bed. As an added bonus, these exercises also strengthen your ab muscles and muscles that support your spine as you move your legs.
Use your body weight for resistance, but if you want to make them harder, you can add some ankle weights. Start with 10 repetitions of each exercise and work up to three sets in a row.
Four-Way Leg Lifts
Four-way leg lifts strengthen the muscles at the front, back and sides of your thighs.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back. Bend your left knee and place the sole of the foot on the mattress. Keeping your right knee straight and foot pointed toward the ceiling, lift your right leg up at least as high as your left knee. Slowly lower it back down.
Roll onto your right side. Bend your left knee and plant your foot on the bend behind your right knee. Keeping your right knee straight, lift your leg up toward the ceiling, then lower back down. You should feel the muscles in your inner thigh tighten during this movement.
Roll onto your stomach. Keeping your right knee straight, squeeze your buttocks and lift your leg up toward the ceiling. Don't let your hips come off the bed.
Finally, roll onto your left side with your legs stacked on top of each other. Lift your right leg up toward the ceiling, keeping your knee straight. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Bridges strengthen your buttock muscles. These exercises can easily be progressed as your strength improves.
HOW TO DO IT: Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the bed. Squeeze your buttock muscles, press down through your heels and lift your hips off the bed as high as possible. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then lower back down. Make this harder by holding one leg straight up toward the ceiling while bridging with the opposite leg.
Heel raises strengthen the calf muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in the bridge position. Press down through the balls of your feet until your heels come off the bed. You should feel the muscles in your calf tighten. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then lower back down.
Heel slides strengthen the muscles at the front of your hip. When performed properly, they also help strengthen your lower abs.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back. Tighten your lower abs by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this position throughout the exercise. Bend your right knee and slide your right heel up toward your buttock as far as possible. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly slide back down. Repeat on the opposite side.