Not only is it Chrismahanakwanza season and gain 15 pounds season, it’s also holiday party season. That means that more than likely, at some point in the next month, you will have to dress up in some sort of cocktail attire and squeeze your blistered, frozen, malformed toes into heels. But all those cookies likely didn’t do much good for your calves. You may be waltzing around sporting some cankles for all I know (gross).
Because this is the time of giving or something, here are five ways to get your legs heel-ready without having to go to the gym with the other losers promising themselves that this is like, REALLY the year they’re going to lose 10 pounds. Stop lying to yourself—I’ll see you at Taco Bell in February.
1. Planks With Leg Raises
Ugh, planks. Get into plank position, but lift your right leg up so it’s at least parallel to the floor, higher if you can. Put it back down and do the same with your left leg. Keep doing this till you die (or for 10-15 reps per side, whichever comes first).
2. High Knee Toe Taps
Grab a chair and put your hands on your hips like you mean it or something. Tap your left food on the bench, then swap and tap your right foot. Do this until you’re so tired you can’t breathe. This is more of a cardio exercise than a leg move, so go fast, like you’re running away from a guy who puts “good vibes only” in his Hinge profile. Anyway, with this exercise, go for bursts of 30 seconds and work up to longer intervals.
3. Side Lunges
You should know how to do a lunge, and if you don’t? Shame. Stand with your feet together, then take a big step to your left—bending your left knee and pushing your butt back—while keeping your right leg straight. Repeat on the other side, and alternate until the lure of cookies outweighs your desire to look nice. 10-20 reps per leg should be enough.
4. Inverted Inner Thigh Openers
These are my fav cause I can lie down and pretend I’m not actually working out. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then lift your right leg up, keeping your thighs touching, and extend your leg up to the ceiling. Lower your right leg—still straight—out to the right side as far as you can without moving your hips off the floor. Repeat with your other leg until your boyfriend/husband/roommate comes in and laughs at you, or 10-20 reps depending on your fitness level.
5. Lying Side Leg Raises
Like planks, but easier! Lie on your side with one arm flat on the floor in front of you, or propping up into a side plank for some additional ab work. Leave the other arm at your side, behind your head, whatever is easiest. Place one foot on top of the other with your legs out completely straight. Keeping them straight, raise your top leg until you like, can’t bring it up anymore, then bring it down. Do this 10-20 times on one leg, then switch to the other side until you feel like you’ve reached a new plane of consciousness via exhaustion.
Everyone’s been obsessing over abs and arms recently, but why would you start neglecting your lower body right as bikini season starts? I mean, if you thought leggings showed the world everything you’ve got, imagine what your booty shorts and swimsuit bottom will show if you don’t work on toning your butt and legs. This workout can be done anywhere and you don’t need any equipment whatsoever, so like, you have no excuse not to start right now. You can add weights if you want the extra credit or extra butt lift, but let’s start with the basics. Here’s how to sculpt your butt and legs for summer:
The bodyweight air squat is like the tall cold brew of butt exercises. It’s not anything fancy and there’s nothing complicated added to it, but it does the damn trick and that’s what matters. Start by standing your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit your butt back into a squat, as if you’re sitting on a chair or using a Bonnaroo Port-A-Potty. Try to get to knee-level or below, and don’t let your knees go in front of your toes. Keep your weight in your heels and keep your chest up. Think public bathroom stance. You get the point.
Regular lunges are amazing for your legs, but we love curtsy lunges because they hit your outer thighs and butt in a way that forward lunges just don’t. Just like a regular lunge, you start standing up with your feet hip-width apart, but instead of stepping forwards, step your left left behind you, diagonally behind your right leg while bending your knees into a lunge. Push through the right heel to stand, and sweep your left leg out to the side. Then do the same thing on the other side. If you’re not feeling the burn after a few reps, go lower.
Jump squats are exactly what they sound like, and they’re super effective in getting your heart rate up while activating the muscles in your butt and legs. Do the same air squat that we talked about before, but this time, when you get low in your squat, jump up into the air as high as you can while straightening out your legs. Land back on the floor in a squat position and keep going. Try to get 20 reps, or put yourself on a 20-30 second timer. You should feel these pretty quickly.
Hip bridges are one of those moves you def don’t wanna do when some 80-year-old in a Hooters tee is hovering over your yoga mat, but if you’re relatively alone in the gym or just at home, this is a great toning exercise for your butt. Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your heels a few inches away from your butt. Slowly lift your hips up and then lower them back down to the ground. Repeat for 20 reps, then pulse at the top for 10 seconds. You’re essentially thrusting your pelvis into the air, but this move will literally give your butt a lift, so we’re not sorry.
Lateral Skater Hops
Usually, betches would only entertain the idea of skating if it involves a date with a hot guy or like, a sick Instagram opp in Bryant Park. We’re making an exception for this exercise because it’s easy to learn, burns calories, and tones your legs. Start in a slightly squatting position, then jump your whole body to your right foot as far as you can, landing on your foot. Try not to touch the left foot down as you bend your knee, then jump back across to the left to land on your left foot. Go side to side for 45 seconds with a little hop in the middle, and remember to stay low to keep your legs activated.
Donkey Kicks don’t look cool or classy in any sense, but they’re actually so much harder than they look—so if anyone’s judging, I’d like them to try a few. This move is pretty tough on the ankles, so if you have an injury, you can do this without a jump. The idea is to start in a downward dog position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Then, jump your legs upwards toward the sky, using the muscles in your butt and legs to lift you off the ground. Land back with your feet on the ground as lightly as you can, then do at least 10 more reps without breaks in between.