Fitness ABC – Letter F
stands for FOOTBALL! You don’t have to be sporty to do this next exercise in the ABC of Fitness. Although the picture uses a footballer for illustrative purposes, it is just to give you an idea of a REAL WORLD application of this bodyweight exercise. This is simply a standing leg raise exercise that is excellent for your core and midsection. It is going to specifically target the lower abdominal muscles, and, as it involves standing on one leg, it is going to help with balance too.
Football (or soccer) is one of the most popular sports in the world right now, played by some of the fittest people. The aim of the game is to score a goal, and there is nothing more spectacular than a powerful shot off the right (or left) foot!
Renowned for their powerful legs and stamina, you could do a lot worse than take a leaf out of the footballers’ handbook and try the standing leg raise today.
Often referred to as leg-swinging, as with all exercises of this sort add the word CONTROLLED to that. When first starting out support yourself with one hand on the back of a chair or holding a door handle and put the other on your hip (or if your leg strength is poor, support yourself on either side – do what you have to do!).
Now, like our footballer friend, draw the leg back (keeping it straight), and then KICK forwards, blasting that ball into the goal. To get the most out of this exercise, point the toes upwards on the forward kick and push the toes back on the backward swing. Don’t worry if you can’t keep your standing leg completely straight, it is perfectly normal for it to ‘give’ at the knee!
Another way to think of the movement in this exercise is that of a clock pendulum, the leg is simply swinging backwards and forward from the hip-joint. With this in mind, you’re not trying to kick someone in the head! Initially simply match the height of your forward swing to your backward swing, it won’t be very high, but it doesn’t matter.
After five or six of these fairly rigid repetitions, then you can try kicking higher, but keep the leg muscles relaxed this time, and the knee can be a little bent.
Ten on each side overall is a good number to start, then work up to three sets of ten on each side! Work up also to performing the exercise with your hands on your hips when your balance improves.
Breathe naturally and normally throughout.