Low-Impact Leg Lift Workout & Exercises That Protect Knees
Undeniably the leg muscles are the most critical muscles in our body for continued mobility. Besides being the largest muscles and a large contributor to our overall lean muscle mass (or lack thereof), the leg muscles also protect the knee joint.
The leg contains both the longest and the largest muscles in our body.
Outside of the spine, the knees are the most vulnerable to injury as we age.
Protecting our knees involves building our leg muscles. How do we do build these muscles, outside of the swimming pool? Here are some great low-impact exercises to try.
Side Lying Leg Lifts
Side Lying - Reclining Leg Raise with Body Bar
Easy Leg Lifts - #1A
Easy Leg Lifts - Side Lying Leg Lifts Variation #1A
Start with lying on your side - thus the side lying leg lift term.
Rest the Body Bar on your inner foot as shown, with the end of the bar extending no more than 1-2".
Then slowly lift your leg off the ground 6-8" as we have shown below.
You will feel both your quadricep and your sartorius contract.
Listen to your body and feel the power of the muscles in your legs.
CAUTION: If you feel your back muscles engaged - stop immediately, you need to re-position your hips.
Repeat the leg lift for 10-12 repetitions. Switch legs. Always perform the same number of repetitions on each leg unless you are fighting an injury or are in rehabilitation.
Build Muscle to Protect the Knees
Building muscle to protect the knee can be problematic, especially if your knees demand a low-impact exercise. This article showcases four great variations on the often forgotten leg-lift exercise.
Always Warm-up Before Exercising - Here's Why!
We have 640 muscles in our human body. These muscles are perhaps most similar to a rubber band. A warm rubber band is very flexible. Our muscles love a warm-up because it is only after a warm-up that our muscles are flexible.
If we try to exercise without a proper warm-up, we may end up like the cold rubber band and snap the band or hurt the muscle.
The Good News - No Expensive Confusing Equipment Needed - To Protect the Knees
Home exercise can be both effective and inexpensive with the Body Bar. The Body Bar I know looks strange at first - but it works! This exercise is wonderful for the inner thigh muscles.
Journey with us as we walk through this great exercise complete with photos detailing each movement.
The Bad News - You Must Be Consistent
It will at first seem difficult. Remember everything new is difficult at first. Start slowly and do the exercises on a regular basis. It takes 21 days to change your pattern. Therefore, I always recommend starting small with a simple 2 minutes a day for you - 2Min4U. Once it becomes a habit, it really is easy! The first 21 days are critical so don't overdo it - just add your exercises into your morning routine.
Leg Lifts Verses Lunges
These leg-lifts target the inner thigh and quadriceps. The leg-lift exercise movement is different from lunges and squats. Lunges and squats are outstanding resistance exercises. However, for those of us with knee problems, these two exercises may not be a practical option.
Leg-lifts are a great addition to any workout and are especially loved by those with knee problems - such as myself!
Knee Problems - Seniors & Rehab Too!
For my clients who find lunges hard on the knees, the leg lifts are simple and very effective. These exercises are especially wonderful for seniors because the exercises are low impact and yet target tone the two most important skeletal muscles in the human body.
The Largest & the Longest Muscles in the Human Body
All of the exercises shown in this article work the two largest and longest muscles in the human body! No wonder these leg lifts are magical in changing your metabolism, toning and reshaping your body! Remember changing fat into muscle will 1.) protect the joints and 2.) change your metabolism thus allowing you to eat more and yet be thinner too! What are these two muscles - the longest and the largest? Read on...
The Largest Muscle in the Human Body - Quadriceps
The largest muscles in the human body are in our legs. As the diagrams to the right detail, these muscles are extensive. The king of all muscles is called the "quadricep" - and includes four muscles on the front of the thigh. This massive muscle also is connected to the largest bone in the human body - the "femur".
The Longest Muscle in the Human Body - Sartorius
The side lying leg lifts engage not only the quadriceps but also the long muscle called the sartorius.
The sartorius is the longest muscle in the human body. The sartorius as the diagram showcases runs obliquely across the thigh and descends all the way down to the knee. The name "sartorius" is derived from Latin - the word "sartorial" which means to do with tailoring. Some people have nicknamed this muscle the "tailor's muscle".
Wikipedia gives an interesting background to the etymology of the word: "There are four hypotheses as to the genesis of the name: One is that this name was chosen in reference to the cross-legged position in which tailors once sat. Another is that it refers to the location of the inferior portion of the muscle being the "inseam" or area of the inner thigh tailors commonly measure when fitting a pant. A third is that the muscle closely resembles a tailor's ribbon. Additionally, antique sewing machines required continuous cross body peddling. This combination of lateral rotation and flexion of the hip and flexion of the knee gave tailors particularly enlarged sartorius muscles."
Leg Lift Exercises Four Options Given
Four different exercises targeting the quadriceps, the sartorius and the abdominal are given as examples in this article. All leg lift exercises showcased here use either none or very minimal equipment. Yet all of these exercises deliver great results.
Leg Lifts With Equipment or Without Equipment
As you can see, the exercises we have provided here are both with added resistance equipment of the Body Bar or with simply your own body weight as shown in the videos.
Body Bar - Two Levels - Easy and Challenging - Checkout the Progression
The beauty of the leg lift with the Body Bar is this exercise offers a progression of exercises. Once you master the first movement, take it to the next level. We explain in more detail below complete with two sets of photographs.
Additionally, the Body Bar comes in different weights. I started out with the 9 lb and have worked up to the 12 lb Body Bar. Many different weights are available - I just share this with for a helpful hint.
The investment in the resistance tool is certainly worth it IF you have bad knees. Body Bar is not the only manufacturer, just an example given. Body Bar kindly supplied the needed photographs upon my request in order to fully provide the needed details of the two different types of movement. No financial consideration exists between Body Bar and the author as stated below in the FTC Disclosure and reiterated here for the sake of clarity.
Take It Up A Level - Variation #1B
In the photos below, you will notice the Body Bar has been extended beyond the foot about 8-10". This slight change in the center of gravity dramatically changes the amount of the weight and the tension placed upon the muscles.
Follow the same steps as detailed in the Side Lying Leg Lift Variation #1A.
Leg Lifts - More Challenging - #1B
Recap - 4 Great Leg Exercises to Protect the Knees
As we discussed, there are three main types of exercises for building the muscle around the knee joint: squats, lunges and leg lifts. The leg lifts are the best for low impact. The leg lifts are also often the forgotten exercise or in some cases "the secret of the personal trainer".
This article details four different leg lift exercises for target toning the largest and the longest muscles in our body. Squats and lunges are great exercises, however, if you struggle with your knees hurting, try the low impact leg lift exercises just for 2 weeks. I promise a noticeable improvement.
To recap our three main points in this article:
- Muscle protects our joints - especially important piece of knowledge when we have sore knees.
- Muscle can change our metabolism. Again important piece of information when fighting the hourly challenge of the battle of the bulge.
- The longest and largest muscles in our legs need resistance exercise, the leg lifts provide a great workout with low impact upon the knees.
Make low impact exercises part of your daily fitness routine today!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Kelly A Burnett