How to Keep Your Legs Strong and Smooth Over Time
Whether you're running an errand or running a marathon, strong legs allow you to move more comfortably throughout daily life and work hard to carry you across the finish line. Keeping your legs strong and smooth over time, therefore, is beneficial to your overall health—and easy to achieve when you have the right tools. To find out exactly how to keep your legs looking good and feeling strong for years to come (just like Martha!), we asked top fitness and beauty experts to share their workout routines, and skincare tips, too.
Try Compound Exercises
Some days are easier than others when it comes to finding the time (and energy!) to work out, but movements like compound exercises make even short routines convenient and highly effective. "These are great because they hit multiple muscle groups, so you're able to get a much more efficient and effective workout," explains Megan Roup, the founder of The Sculpt Society. Roup recommends compound exercise like curtsy squats, sumo lunges, and reverse lunges to target glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and inner thighs simultaneously. Many of Roup's favorite movements, like lateral lunges, not only sculpt strong legs but also help improve balance and stability over time. "It's important that we move in different planes and a lateral lunge is a great challenge for our balance," she adds.
Combine Strength Training with Cardio
While squats and lunges play a major role in creating strong legs, fitness programs that mix strength training with cardio work to improve muscle endurance and maximize results. "I love combining cardio and strength into my workouts, [to make] a short workout incredibly effective," says Roup. "The cardio increases oxygen flow, which helps with increased blood flow and muscle recovery—which helps us sculpt strong legs," she adds.
Pay Attention to Form
Practicing proper form might be the last thing you're thinking about mid-sweat, but it's crucial for an effective routine. "Form is incredibly important regardless of the body exercise," explains Roup. "When it comes to leg exercises, we want to concentrate on setting up the exercise correctly so that we can hit the correct muscle groups and avoid injury," she continues. Having a strong and stable core also helps to make leg exercises more effective; actively engaging your abdominals while lunging or squatting can help with stability while working multiple muscle groups at once.
A very important component to maintaining strong legs is consistent stretching. Not only does stretching reduce tightness, but it also improves flexibility. Leg stretches should target your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Keep the Momentum Going
When it comes to working out, consistency is half the battle. If you want to keep your legs strong over time, it helps to set realistic goals and carve out a routine that works best for you and your lifestyle. Roup creates exercise programs that make it easy for her subscribers to stick to: "I set these programs up so that you have a calendar and road map of exactly what workouts I want you to do each week—that way you're more likely to be consistent with your routine and therefore get the best results." Creating a weekly or monthly fitness schedule for yourself will make life easier and help you to stay on track.
Get the Most Out of Your Shave
Never again will you experience the sting of razor burn if you invest in the right tools. "A quality razor is important to ensure your shave is comfortable and gives you the closeness you want," says Caitlin Orszulak, a senior scientist for Gillette Venus. "High-quality blades, if optimally spaced, can cut through hair more easily, leading to a more comfortable shave," she continues. Orszulak recommends combining a razor with lubricated strips like Venus' Extra Smooth Razor ($12.99, target.com) with a rich shave gel to reduce nicks and cuts and to keep legs moisturized during hair removal.
Moisturize, Exfoliate, and Protect
Your legs deserve their own dedicated skincare routine—start by exfoliating them a couple of times a week to slough off any scaly skin. Then, apply a rich moisturizer daily. For an added bonus, creams like Nivea's Skin Firming Hydration Lotion ($11.99, target.com) lock in moisture and help to firm mature, crepey skin. Last, but certainly not least? Protect your legs (and the rest of your body, for that matter!) against harmful UV rays by incorporating a body lotion with SPF into your daily routine. We love Eucerin's Daily Hydration Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Body Lotion ($9.54, walmart.com) for everyday use.