The best part about summer is living in teeny cutoffs, bikinis and breezy sundresses—and showing off long, lithe legs. Josh Holland, personal trainer at New York’s Technogym, is the secret weapon of several lean-limbed Sports Illustrated models; he says a combination of stretching, cardio and lifting weights three to five times a week is the key. Below are his top tips; then, click through above for our favorite beauty products that will make your legs look even longer.
- Do both cardio and strength training
The fastest way to see results, Holland says, is to alternate lifting weights with aerobic workouts such as running or jumping rope. Without cardio, lifting weights alone can make you bulky.
“Squats, lunges, split squats (from a lunge, bend and straighten your legs) and jump lunges (lunge, then jump, switching to the opposite leg) increase strength, stability and coordination.”
“Extended leg lifts (kick your leg back or sideways, and lift up and down) and side/karate kicks engage every muscle. Isometric exercises like planks and wall sits, which contract your muscles for a set period, are also excellent.”
- Shock your muscles
Unless you want to simply maintain your current weight and muscle definition, you need to push beyond your normal limit. “Hold weights while doing lunges, aiming for 15 squats if you normally do five. Don’t do what you can do—go a step further.”
“Muscles are like rubber bands and have an elastic, recoil effect. Stretching helps them stay supple so they perform more powerfully.”
- Run toe to heel (not heel to toe)
This engages and tones most effectively. The body stays upright and relaxed, so the impact of your feet hitting the ground is less on your joints.
- Work on your calves
“Defined calves make the rest of your leg look stronger and more shapely.” The key: calf raises (stand flat on the ground, then rise up to your tiptoes).