Earlier this year, I became Nigeria's first winter Olympian when I represented my country in Skeleton at the Pyeongchang Games. As Nigeria’s first Winter Olympian, keeping my legs in tip-top shape is an upmost priority. I’ve spent years perfecting how to get my legs lean, strong and powerful. And now, I’m sharing my fave exercises to achieve killer legs. Get ready to train like an Olympian and challenge your legs for the best results.
1. Kangaroo box jumps
Box jumps are my absolute fave. They’re super fun, burn a ton of kilojoules and blast fat. Jumping also increases your strength, muscle tone and gives you amazing calves.
You’ll need some space and three to five plyometric boxes or sturdy raised surfaces. Choosing the height of the boxes will depend on your current fitness level, but most women will want to start with 30 to 45cm heights. Set the boxes up in a straight line by taking two large steps in between each box (you can create more space in between the boxes if you’re more advanced and as you progress). Once the boxes are set up, jump onto the first box, landing with both feet. Then immediately spring back up as quickly as you can to jump on or over the next box. Start with three or four sets of box jumps a few times a week.
2. Power skips
I love skipping because it’s really convenient and activates the major muscles of your lower body; glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles. It also burns a high amount of kilojoules, which can help with weight loss and trimming your thighs.
Grab a skipping rope and start by running in place and alternating between your right and left foot. Bring your knees as high as you can in front of your body with each step. Jump for 30 seconds – as you get better at it, you can up your time to 60 seconds or more. Do four to six sets of timed intervals, resting 30 seconds between sets.
3. Frog thrusts
These give me life. They work your quads, glutes and hamstrings and have many of the same benefits as the dreaded burpee, without leaving you a hot mess on the floor of the gym.
Start in push-up position. Then bring both feet up to the outside of your hands, sinking into a deep squat. Once both feet touch the ground, kick both legs back to start. Repeat. Try doing 25 in a row as fast as you can. As you get fitter, go for more.
4. #SleighSimiSleigh sprints
To be Africa’s fastest woman on ice, I have to do tons of sprinting off the ice. Sprinting gets my legs strong and keeps my overall body snatched because it burns a great deal of kilojoules in a short time. Sprints can be done anywhere and are very time effective, as well.
Before diving into your sprint workout, warm up by doing a mix of low-intensity cardio (skip or jog at a comfortable pace for 4–5 minutes), sprint-specific drills (lunges, skips, leg swings) and plyometrics and accelerations (high knees and 10–20–30-metre accelerations – run fast for 10, 20, then 30 metres). This should take about 15 minutes; then you’re ready to sprint. Find a 40-metre straight, flat area (pavements, long driveways and hallways work well). Sprint as fast as possible for 40 metres, then walk back to the start. That’s one rep. Do a set of four reps, resting for 2 minutes between. Once you’ve done your set of four, rest 5 minutes, then go again.
5. Explosive step-ups
These strengthen the muscles on the front and back of your thighs and, bonus, will also help get your gluteus maximus (AKA your booty) rock solid.
You’ll need a bench, box or platform, just under knee height. Stand tall facing the bench. Plant one foot on top and explosively drive upward, extending at the hips, knees and ankles. Switch legs in mid-air and land softly with the opposite foot on the box. Immediately start your next rep. Do four reps on each leg, aiming for maximum height on each rep. That’s one set. Do three sets in total, resting 2 minutes between sets.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
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