General Question

curiousk's avatar

How do I strengthen my legs?

Asked by curiousk (125points) September 4th, 2009

I’m 26 years old and unfortunately I have led a very lazy and sedentary life. Although I am not obese, I do have managed to really screw up my body. I am about 20–30lbs overweight and I have excessive cellulite plus my legs are filled with varicose veins. My boobs are oh so saggy and I can see a double chin when I take pictures of myself. I have begun to “work out” and given up oh so many times because I always feel weak! The two main problems I always run into are my weak legs and my weak lungs. I cannot run/jog for too long because I run out of breath and both my shins and caves begin to hurt within minutes of my work out. So, what should I do to build leg strength and resistance and what vitamins can I take so that I do not feel weak as I attempt to get back in shape…for the 500th time?

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33 Answers

Facade's avatar

Start by eating enough. diets are bad You don’t have to run to lose weight. Walk. I like to go about 4 mph on a steep incline (on a treadmill). The incline is important. For strength training, do different variations of squats and add weights when they get too easy for you. Good luck :)

Tink's avatar

Skating. It really does help.

Facade's avatar

@Tink1113 GA ahh skating memories

windex's avatar

Do not go on diets, you need to change your lifestyle. Eliminate bad habits and replace them with something productive. If you eat fast food, and stop eating fastfood, all you’re gonna think about is eating Fastfood.
It can be very tough, but once you start forming good habits/rhythm, you’re going to start feeling better and better about yourself.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to be mad at the world, or start eating to ease your pain.
You just need to hang in there and get out of your head. Stop thinking about it, and just do it. Keep doing it and even if you slip up once in a while, it’s OKAY, don’t let it get to you.
Start by eliminating Sodas and fast food. That will make a big difference. Eat smaller meals, but eat every 2 hours, and drink lots of water.
If you push yourself too hard (even though it is possible to succeed if you do) you might burn yourself out. Start forming good eating habits first, and after a few weeks, once you start exercising, it’ll actually be easier.
it is still hard word, but you CAN do it.
Good luck.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

I agree with Facade and windex. No diets! Changing your eating habits, however, is key. For a good book on getting back to the basics, I suggest In Defense of Food

You might also check out Eat to Live

Ignore the “revolutionary diet!” hype. It’s less of a diet regimen and more about informing you how your body reacts to foods and food types. Yes, it’s an approach to eating, but not the “starve yourself and stand on your head for 40 minutes each day” sort of fad.

curiousk's avatar

I forgot to mention, that I don’t eat fast food, nor do I drink soda or eat sweets. I eat a lot of veggies and fruits and I eat 2–3 meals a day with some snacks in between meals. My biggets problem is the lack of excercise and my weakness, but not my eating habits.

Darwin's avatar

If you walk at the mall, or in your neighborhood, you should walk as far as you can in one direction. Sit and rest until you can go on and then go back to your starting point. Repeat every day and gradually you will see the distance you can go increase. Then you can start increasing the speed at which you walk.

If you are using a treadmill, start at a comfortable pace with zero incline. Each week either increase the pace, increase the incline, increase the speed or increase the duration one or two notches. Eventually you will be able to go fast enough and long enough to consider jogging.

Also, in addition to cardio training you need to add in some strength training every other day. If you don’t have access to a gym, use climbing up and down stairs for your quads, and various “setting up” exercises – these generally require a section of floor and sometimes a wall or a chair. Here is a good overview on ways to build strength without a fancy gym full of machines. Instead of buying fancy dumbbells, use canned goods. Always do at least 12 reps but you shouldn’t be able to do more than 15 to 20 or the weight is too light or the exercise is too easy.

And be patient. You will improve a tiny bit every day. If you can find a friend to work out with you will have better luck at keeping up your new routine.

Good luck!

Facade's avatar

@curiousk That’s good to hear (about your eating)

aprilsimnel's avatar

The couch to 5K program starts you off slowly if you do want to run. I started it in April and finished in July. I now run 4 miles x 3 days a week. When I began, I was 40 lbs overweight. I’m now about 23 lbs to my goal.

Also work in strength training or some Pilates, which works with your own body’s weight as resistance.

Don’t do so much all at once. You’ll burn yourself out.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@curiousk Agree with Facade. Exisiting good eating habits means you can ignore my response. But more information doesn’t always hurt!

Stair-climbing in escalating (teehee) lengths seems useful. Climb stairs until you’re muscles begin to ache, then stop. Break for the appropriate recovery time, then climb more stairs than before. repeat.

Tink's avatar

@Facade Ice skating memoirs?

Any skating really, skateboarding, figure skating, hockey, etc.

Blondesjon's avatar

Pretend like there is no such thing as gasoline.

Facade's avatar

@Tink1113 Regular roller skating on a team and ice skating for fun :)

Tink's avatar

@Facade Ah, understood :)

deni's avatar

Get a job at UPS as a loader…i am dying right now

Tink's avatar

Reminds me of AstroChuck, where is he?

cyndyh's avatar

Lunges with weights is a good way to strengthen your legs. Add weight slowly. Walk a lot and don’t let the fact that you’re walking stop you from doing the things you want to do.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Toe raises- standing with legs together and arms crossed over your chest, raise up on your toes and lower, see if you can do 50 of these a few times a day.

Pliets- take the highest backed chair you have and use it as a support. stand with your legs shoulder width apart, feet pointed out, arms out with one resting on the chair back to steady yourself. Bend your knees outward lowering yourself down, squatting but only as far as your knees have strength to raise you back up to standing position. Try 10 of these, then build up to 50 at a time.

Lunges- start with lowering your body weight and raising up again, work up to steeping-lunges.

These are leg exercises you can start out really slow with, reps of maybe just 10 each a few times a day but your body will build up fast to where you can do several reps of each at time, several times a day.

jrpowell's avatar

Swimming is fantastic.

I actually keep weights by the computer. I’m typing this with weights strapped to my wrists. But if I am watching a video on youtube will do curls while I watch it. That doesn’t really help you with your lags but it will burn calories and help with your lungs.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

If your legs are hurting, you may get much more benefit out of biking. Use a bike at home to run errands, or just tool around the neighborhood for an hour or so; it’s fun. Dancing for 30 minutes in the morning is also a great way to burn calories and get started in the morning.

Judi's avatar

I think you have failed in the past because you are setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Start with small steps.
Tell yourself you will walk for 15 minuets a day 3 days a week. If you reach that goal then either bump up the time or the frequency. Over the months, increase your goals. In tiny steps.
There is no reason you have to run to increase your leg strength. Walking is very effective.
If you really do want to run, give yourself several months to work up to it. After you can comfortably walk briskly for a mile, you may want to bump it up to a jog.
Give yourself a break and progress in baby steps. Also, give yourself credit when those smaller goals are acomplished.

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Darwin's avatar

skanks?! How rude.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@sparklefag, however did you reach the conclusion that @curiousk was male? A 26 year-old male worried about sagging boobs? Oh, wait. The question’s about exercise, so the poster must be male?

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Maybe sparklefag meant skanky men? Then again, you’ve also assumed the poster assumed curiousk was a man and not a woman. Perhaps the thought was that she still might like skanky women? Although, the benefit of the doubt may not necessarily be well deserved here…

gailcalled's avatar

@Judi; To a couch slug, walking 15 minutes can feel like 20 miles. I would suggest starting with only a few minutes each way. Then increase very gradually. If you walk outside, you can add one telephone pole every few days…

@curiousk: Set modest goals so you don’t get discouraged. My docs suggest 4000IU of vitamin D3 to help aches and pains. And don’t take Advil before in order to fend off inflammation.

Jack79's avatar

I had a knee injury some years back and it became really hard to excercise as a result.
I did physiotherapy for 6 months (I was lucky to have a very good physio), and one of the things that helped once my knee got a little better was swimming. Swimming is a fun activity and quite easy, plus your weight plays no factor in the strain your legs feel. At first you can hold on to the edge of the pool and kick in the water, then start swimming across the pool and so on. Eventually your muscles will get stronger, and then you could move onto something else. A smooth second step would be cycling, and eventually some light jogging (which you can increase over time).

Judi's avatar

@gailcalled; she’s 26, not 76, and she said she had been trying to run. 15 minuets of walking is probably not to unreasonable.

gailcalled's avatar

@Judi: True but she said that she has already failed 500 times. Whenever her body tells her she is overdoing, she gets discouraged. If starting really slowly makes her ready for more, there is always tomorrow for some increases.

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bennihan's avatar

Deadlift and Squat

Only two things you need to do. Do them 5×5 with the heaviest amount of weight you possibly can and you will see gains.

Jeruba's avatar

Since July I have been taking a very gentle, low-stress yoga class once a week. I am very much older than you and have been pretty sedentary all my life, and walking hurts my back. After only 9 weeks I began to notice a real difference in my ability to sustain walking—20 minutes with minimal pain, compared to whimpering, can’t-make-it pain after only 5. Taking and holding simple poses such as Warrior 2 builds strength in the legs just by stretching the muscles. I can even walk up stairs more easily now.

I am doing this despite chronic lumbar disc pain, cervical disc pain, two postsurgical wrists, two bad knees (one with a huge surgical scar and no elasticity), and neuromas in both feet. And too much body weight. These things are not impairing my ability to follow along in the class.

I recommend doing this with a qualified teacher who can lead you in an appropriate sequence, correct your postures, and give you alternatives for things you can’t do without pain; for example, how to put weight on your hands without injuring your wrists. The class I am taking is given at the YMCA and is free with membership.

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