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best exercise for front of legs - lower thighs above knees?

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Old 05-15-2007, 10:48 PM   #1
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Default best exercise for front of legs - lower thighs above knees?

So, I've been improving the look of my legs all over, but the fronts of them are still very ripply for some reason. Besides a ton of water and cardio cardio cardio, what would you specifically suggest to work that area? I'm doing dead lifts for my hammies, ball squats on the wall, and don't do well yet with lunges. I've read front leg extensions can be considered one of the least valuable/effective exercises, but would it do the trick for this case? Anything else you would recommend? I'm sure running would help, as when I was doing that, I could feel that little front, low inner thigh muscle starting to develop. TIA!

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Old 05-15-2007, 11:48 PM   #2
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Hi Fran I like your new avatar.

I have found that different variations of squats have been effective in working my quads. I do leg extensions too. I didn't know they were considered less effective. I find them challenging. I am also doing step ups onto a bench with dumbbells. It seems to work the whole leg and glute muscles. I think most of my leg exercises seem to be compound exercises and not target just the quads.

Running is also a good option for quad definition but so is walking on an incline. The first year I began working out walking on an incline was my form of cardio. I would set the treadmill on a steep incline and walk at a moderate to moderate fast pace. I think that it also helped to slim my hips and the sides of my thighs as well. Trust me, I'm using this again this summer too.

You know I'll be honest, during this weightloss/strength training process I have also found that my overall leg shape has improved. They are much smaller than two years ago and from a distance the proportion of the shape of thigh to calf is good but up closer I still don't have the definition I want and yep, the ripple stuff is there too. One of my goals this summer is to try to improve this. ~sigh~ well if it all came quickly and easily it wouldn't be fun in the end right?
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:11 AM   #3
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Hi Lydia, you know, I thought it was in Meg's post of the most ineffective exercises, but just checking again, and that's not where it was. Maybe someone just mentioned it as not the best, if you were looking to do 2 exercises per body part since it's not weight bearing and not complex (right?)
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Old 05-16-2007, 08:44 AM   #4
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Maybe someone just mentioned it as not the best, if you were looking to do 2 exercises per body part since it's not weight bearing and not complex (right?)
Personally, this is why I very seldom do leg extensions. I'm not a big fan of isolation exercises particularly since I favor total body workouts or upper/lower splits which leaves little room for isolation. I need more bang for my buck and those are the multi-joint exercises.

That said, if you feel your quad development is lagging, leg extensions are effective in isolating the quads and, as long as you have the machine adjusting right to not put excessive stress on the knee, they would help with your goal.

Still, I would prefer Lydia's suggestion of adding DB step ups to your arsenal before the leg extensions.

Where are you having trouble with the lunges? If it is coordinating the movement, perhaps you can try split squats to start until you get comfortable with those, then progress to the lunges. Also, when I first started doing lunges, I found backward lunges slightly easier ( I think this varies from person to person).
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Old 05-16-2007, 09:22 AM   #5
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Lunge walking is easier for me.
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:05 PM   #6
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I think it's just a function of excess weight on the knees (200+ lbs on a 5'6" frame). Back when I was an aerobics queen in the late 80's, I could do them with no problem - didn't like em, but could do them. Walking lunges across the room, all that. It may sound silly, but they hurt and I fear making them hurt worse. I know that exercise will build the surrounding tissue and strengthen them, but I've just chosen to focus on squats to build my legs, since they don't hurt.

I will give the db stepups a try - but man, bench stepups - that seems high! :0 Maybe I can stack some of my FIRM steps and start there and move up. I will add those today.

Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:27 PM   #7
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Hey Fran: The bench is high platform for a step up, that's how the glutes come into play. It's not a real fast move just up and down slowly. If it seems too high then certainly working up to that height is a good idea. Just make sure it's stable. I'm a clutz and would fall from anything that isn't bolted to the ground.

If there is a chance that your knee is bothering you during these try them first with just your body weight before adding dumbbells. Today was leg day for me and I had to modify this move by only using my bodyweight today but it was still pretty effective without the added weight.
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Old 05-16-2007, 01:38 PM   #8
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It may sound silly, but they hurt and I fear making them hurt worse. I know that exercise will build the surrounding tissue and strengthen them, but I've just chosen to focus on squats to build my legs, since they don't hurt.
Doesn't sound silly at all! There are plenty of exercises out there to choose from. There is never a need to perform an exercise that is causing you real pain.
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Old 05-16-2007, 02:40 PM   #9
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Fran, love your new avatar! You have a face.

I was telling the physical therapist about what exercises I do - and given my knee problems he was adament about not doing leg extensions (I don't - I read several places that they were ineffective and bad for knees). I'm thinking the same as you Fran that when the weight goes down, the problem will, if not go away, be much less.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:30 PM   #10
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I've been doing leg extensions to build up my quads so as to do squats. They're ok, but one of the trainers at the gym today showed me how to do squats with a stability ball against a wall. I'm excited to have a new way to work my quads (since my knees are really dodgy). He said the next step would be to do the stability-ball-squats with hand weights.
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