As Nigeria’s first Winter Olympian, keeping my legs in tip-top shape is an utmost 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.
Kangaroo Box Jumps
Box jumps are my absolute fave! They’re super fun, burn a ton of calories, 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 fourteen to eighteen-inch boxes. 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, you’ll jump unto 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.
I love jumping rope 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 calories, which can help with weight loss and trimming your thighs.
Grab a jump 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 and progress to 60 seconds or more. Complete four to six sets of timed intervals.
Rest for 30 seconds before continuing each set.
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 a 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 the starting position. Repeat. Try doing 25 in a row as fast as you can and progress from there.
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 calories in a short time. Sprints can be done anywhere and are very time effective as well.
Before diving into your sprint work out, you can warm up by doing a mix of low-intensity cardio (jump rope or jog for 4-5 minutes), sprint-specific drills (lunges, skips, leg swings), and plyometrics and accelerations (high knees and 10-20-30 meter accelerations). This should take about 15 minutes and then you’re ready to sprint! Find a 40-meter straightaway (pavements, driveways and hallways work well) for your sprint work out. Sprint as fast as possible for 40 meters. Walk back to the start. Do a set of 4 with 2 minutes rest between each sprint. Rest for a full 5 minutes after all 4 sets.
These strengthen the muscles on the front and back of your thighs and as an added bonus will also help get your gluteus maximus (AKA your booty) rock solid.
First you’ll need a bench, box or platform. Make sure it isn’t too high; just under knee height is about right. Stand tall facing the bench. Plant one foot on it 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 and immediately begin the next rep. Do 3 sets with 4 reps on each leg. Aim for maximum height on each rep and take a 2-minute rest between reps.
About the Author
Simidele Adeagbo (@SimiSleighs) is a trailblazing Olympian, business leader and advocate focused on empowering women and building the next generation of change makers through the power of sport. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.