The Best Unusual Workouts For Your Lower-Body

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Training above the belt is important but leaving the lower-body unnoticed is a huge mistake. The lower-body is a home to some of the biggest muscles in your body. A well trained lower-body gives you strong glutes, athletic quads and toned calves.

Lower-body workouts has lot of benefits which include – reduce the risk of injury, you will burn more calories, you will faster and longer, they increase your metabolism, increase your range of motion and you can be a better athlete. The key to sticking to any fitness regime is to do activities you love. Here are some of the best unusual workouts for your lower-body.

Hula Hooping

You can do it in your living room in front of the TV, before work or even in your lunch break – exercise doesn’t get much more flexible than hulahooping. It ferociously targets your waist, core muscles and lower back, and you’ll burn around the same calories in 20 minutes as you would running two miles. Just make sure you invest in an adult-sized hoop – they’re heavier and move more slowly, so require extra calorie-burning coordination. For an even tougher challenge, opt for a weighted hoop, which will whittle down your waist in no time.

Swimming

Swimming is one of the best forms of low-impact aerobic exercise around, helping to tone your muscles and strengthen your cardiovascular system. But for the greatest benefits, you should approach swimming workouts like a session in the gym, using a variety of strokes, speeds and different equipment, rather than endlessly plodding along in the recreation lane. Mix shorter interval training sessions (where you alternate swimming as fast as you can for 60 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest) with longer, steadier-paced swims to build endurance. For a dedicated lower-body blast, hold a float in your hands (or grip the side of the pool) to isolate your upper body, and focus on kicking as fast as you can from your hips, without letting your knees bend too much.

Walking

This is one of the most affordable and convenient forms of exercise you can do, just pull on your trainers to walk anytime, anywhere! It’s perfect for weight loss as it engages major muscle groups throughout your body. Compared with running, it creates less impact on your joints and works your muscles through a bigger range of movement to tone your hips, abs, bottom and thighs more effectively. Speed counts, so to reap the benefits, walk at a pace that leaves you breathless, and vary the terrain – walking over softer surfaces such as grass and sand – to encourage your body to work harder and burn more calories. Adding hills also boosts the benefits – on steep inclines, your heart rate can increase by 20%.

Skipping

Fast, convenient and oh-so-simple, skipping could be your ultimate weapon forgetting fit and staying slim. Believe it or not, despite the constant jumping, skipping is a medium-impact activity, meaning it’s kinder to your joints than other cardio workouts. Better still, you can easily stash a rope in your bag and whip it out wherever you are – you’ll burn between 300-400 calories, depending on the intensity. Check you’re skipping properly by standing on the middle of your rope and lifting the handles – they should be level with your armpits. When you jump, your feet shouldn’t rise up more than a few centimetres. Skip for three minutes, then spend a minute doing as many lunges as you can in 60 seconds. Skip again for three minutes, then try a minute of ab crunches. If you’re super-fit, keep going, either repeating this circuit or introducing other resistance moves such as squats or tricep dips.

Rebounding

Bouncing around on a mini-trampoline has made a serious comeback. It’s been described by NASA as ‘the most efficient, effective exercise yet devised by man’, because your body feels an increased gravitational force at the bottom of the rebound – which can be equivalent to two or three times your body weight – causing your body to work harder in response. The aim is to perform a series of small, controlled movements, rather than jumping high. You’ll work up a sweat with minimal impact to your joints, and better still, you don’t need any coordination!

Stepping

Step classes intensely work every muscle in your lower body, burning between 500-600 calories an hour depending on the height of your step. Plus studies have shown stepping can also help increase bone density in your hips, legs and spine. But you don’t have to hit the gym to get the benefits. TRY THIS: Using a staircase at home, do basic stepping for three minutes – walking all the way up and down the staircase while pumping your arms. Next, lunge up the stairs two at a time for another three minutes – one at a time on the way down. Now stand with your left side facing the stairs and step up, leading with your left foot and pumping your arms. Do this for three minutes, then repeat on the other side. Finally, place both your hands on the second or third step, palms under your shoulders and do Mountain Climbers (see page 50), alternately raising your knees to your chest, for two minutes.

Spinning

Between the encouraging instructors, pumping music, whooping fellow exercisers and constant changes in pace, you’ll get all the motivation you need to give your all in this group class. Peddling works most of the muscles in the legs and buttocks during the push-down phase of Spinning, to give you an unbelievably toned lower body. You can burn between 400600 calories in one hour, depending on your intensity, how long you’re in the saddle and the resistance level of your Spinning bike. Look out for classes with video screens that take you on a virtual ride through pleasant scenery to lessen gym boredom.

Dancing in Heels

Marilyn Monroe once said: ‘Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.’ And that includes getting a killer body. Okay, so podiatrists and osteopaths may not agree, but stiletto workout classes have exploded in popularity. Moving in heels engages your core and calf muscles and challenges your stabilizing muscles to help you balance. Take a ballroom, Latin, or pole dancing class or hit a club. Or, draw the curtains, turn up the volume on your iPod and get moving. Ditch the wedges and choose a shoe with a 2-3in heel without a platform sole, so your toes are as close to the ground as possible. This will help with your balance.

Pilates

Used by dancers and top athletes and famed for strengthening the deeper layers of your core to whittle your waist and promote flat abs – Pilates also improves your posture and lengthens your limbs for a longer, leaner torso. Choose a faster-paced, pulse-raising variety of Pilates such as Dynamic Mat Pilates or Piloxing (which mixes Pilates with boxing) to combine toning and fat-burning in one hit.