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Leg Lengthening Exercises: How To Sculpt And Elongate Thighs

01/14/2014 09:32 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST
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THE GOAL: Sculpt quadriceps and elongate thigh muscles

THE EXPERT: Leah Sarago, creator of Ballet Body. These exercises come from her Ballet Body: Lower Body Workout DVD.

THE INFO: The following five exercises are designed to sculpt the quadriceps (front of the thighs) by simultaneously stretching and contracting the muscle while emphasizing the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the muscle contraction during the exercises. While no exercise can change the insertion points of a muscle to make it longer, these signature Ballet Body exercises can create aesthetically longer looking thigh muscles. Each exercise requires control and attention to form to effectively challenge the working muscles.

THE MOVES:

Leg Lengthening Exercises

Beginners can start with 1 set of each exercise, and trained individuals should repeat the entire sequence for a thigh-lengthening-workout in less than 30 minutes. This workout can be performed barefoot using a barre or chair for balance.

Balance Plie

1. Begin with your heels together and toes pointed towards the corners of the room in a “turn out position."

2. Lift the heels a few inches off the floor and balance keeping the knees slightly bent. You can use a chair or barre for help with balance if needed.

3. Lower into a plie position keeping the shoulders over the hips, and hips over the heels to work the thigh muscles. Go deeper into the plie to make this exercise more challenging.

4. Lift back to the starting position and repeat. Perform 16 reps moving slowly during the lowering phase (eccentric portion) of the exercise.

Lunges In Releve

1. Begin by facing a barre or chair and place both hands on the barre for balance. Start with one leg forward aligning knee over ankle and place the other leg behind the body in lunge position.

2. Lift the front foot into a releve position, and lower into a lunge with the back leg creating a 90 degree angle. Make sure the front knee stays directly over the ankle and maintain an upright, neutral spine.

3. Work to hold this position with the front thigh parallel to the floor for a greater challenge. Work the thigh muscles by creating small pulsing movements by lifting and lowering one inch under control for 16 reps. Repeat on the other leg.

Plie Circles

1. Start with one hand on a chair or barre for balance. Place the feet outside of the hips and turn out the legs from the hips with toes pointing to the corners of the room.

2. Begin by tilting the right hip to stretch the top of the right thigh and lower the hips towards the floor by circling from the right to the left. As the hips lift to the left side, work to stretch the top of the left thigh creating length in the muscle. Repeat 8 circles to the right moving slowly with control to create length in the quadriceps as the hips articulate in a circular motion.

3. Repeat the movement to the left for 8 reps always emphasizing the tilt of the pelvis as the hips move from one side to the next.

Parallel Tucks

1. Begin with the feet hip-distance apart in parallel with toes facing forward. Lift the heels high off the floor and lower into a parallel plie maintaining shoulders over hips and hips over heels. Imagine your back is flat against a wall as you lower into the plie.

2. Lift the right hip in the plie position to stretch the lateral (outside) portion of the thigh performing a side tuck. Stay low to generate a greater amount of resistance. Return the hips back to the center.

3. Tuck the pelvis under to stretch the top of the thighs. Release the tuck by moving the hips back to the starting position creating the neutral spine and maintaining the plie parallel position. Stay low to create more of a challenge.

4. Now repeat the tuck to the left side by lifting the hips and repeating step #3.

5. Finish the sequence, by repeating step #3. Repeat this entire sequence step 1-5 for 8-12 reps.

Lunge Tucks

1. Place the feet apart in a lunge position with the right leg in front. The front knee should align over the ankle.

2. Lower into a lunge position and hold isometrically (holding static position). Make sure the front knee stays directly over the ankle during the lunge. Stay low in the lunge with a 90-degree angle on the back leg for greater intensity.

3. Strongly tuck the pelvis under to deeply stretch the front of the back thigh (working leg) holding for 2 seconds before releasing the hips back to neutral and releasing the stretch of the back thigh.

4. Repeat the tuck for 8 slow reps and finish the exercise with 16 quick tucks.

5. Repeat this exercise on the left leg.

Have something that needs fine tuning? Let us know in the comments below.

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