Legs, Legs, Legs, and English Muffins

Has your weather been as nice as ours has the last couple days? Clear blue skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, with a lovely 50-something at night. Perfect weather for a run. Or a light jog, or a walk, or a hike, or a bike ride, or a just get the heck outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Or maybe the Frigid North is up to its normal habits of think clouds and snow. Time for some sledding or cross country skiing!

Either way, here’s a leg workout that’s an awesome way to finish whatever cardio session you just sweat through. It’s pretty basic, but really works your butt, hamstrings, and quads for a 15-minute-or-less total strengthening and toning exercise set.

You can do this one without dumbbells to start if you’d like to experiment. If you want to make it tougher, grab whatever you’re most comfortable working with (5-lb., 10-lb., etc). Don’t be afraid that your arms can’t handle that much weight for arm exercises, as you won’t actually be lifting, but rather holding.

Here are your exercises:

Same-leg lunge: Start standing straight up, feet together. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Step forward and lunge with your right foot, putting most of your body weight into your right heel. Push through the right heel back to your starting position. This motion is kind of like taking a step forward and then stepping back again, as opposed to a walking lunge where you move across the floor. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Curtsey: Like these pictures from a previous post, but just holding the weights at your sides instead of doing a v-raise…
Step 1– Stand straight, feet together
Step 2– Holding weights at side, tap one foot back and behind standing leg
Step 3– Return to standing position
Repeat on SAME LEG

Step-to-Squat: Start standing straight up, feet together. Put one weight down, so you’re only holding one with both hands at chest level or between your legs. Step right foot out to the side and squat down (like a regular squat). Come up and bring right foot back to standing position. Repeat on SAME LEG.

Squat Pulse: Spread legs and feet further than shoulder-width apart. Keep that one weight at chest level, or hold it between your legs. Squat down so legs are parallel (or close!) to the ground. Come up to a 45 degree angle, about halfway up. Come back down to parallel. Repeat! To keep some of the pressure off of your knees and get the most out of your squat, pretend like you’re going to sit down in a chair. Stick your butt out and squeeze those cheeks!

So all together, one set will look like this:
1. Same-leg lunge– RIGHT
2. Same-leg lunge– LEFT
3. Curtsey– RIGHT
4. Curtsey– LEFT
5. Step-to-Squat– RIGHT
6. Step-to-Squat– LEFT
7. Squat pulse

Try 3 sets of 10 (each exercise) to start. Get through ALL exercises 1-7 before you stop to rest for 60-90 seconds. If you need more time, take it! Try to push yourself to keep your recovery time only as long as your legs need it. You’ll feel it in your legs, but it also gets your heart rate up a bit. When your legs stop getting sore after this workout, try spicing it up by doing the exercises in a different order, using heavier weights, or attempting more reps or sets.

I’m up to 15-lb dumbbells now, doing 15 reps of each exercise on each leg. My next step will be a rotation between 4 sets of 15 reps and 3 sets of 20 reps, because I’m not sure my hands want to hold 20-pounders. At least not until I get lifting gloves.

I made homemade english muffins last Sunday. Before I started talking about them I wanted to make sure they were edible. I’m happy to report they are not only edible, but also delicious!

English muffins. Yes, they look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

English muffins. Yes, some look burnt, but they were definitely cooked perfectly.

I got the recipe from another blog called BudgetBytes. Here is the link! Making them was very cheap compared to buying them from the store. It “takes” 3.5 hours, but most of that is just allowing the dough to rise.

Superbowl plans tonight, anyone? I’m making my own pizza and watching the game with my boyfriend and some friends. Neither team is on my naughty list, but I think I’m pulling for the 49ers so it makes the Packers look better and Dad wins his bet.

Hey, at least I didn’t choose a team based on whose uniforms were prettier.

Good Things (and a good week!) 🙂