Be a Thigh Master

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Bodywork, May 1997

Be a Thigh Master

And you'll prep the rest of your leg muscles for a summer of fun
By Jim Harmon

Not that you need a reminder, but the time has come to leave the gym behind. So what's next? Bounding through streams on alpine hikes, shagging Frisbees, lunging for volleyballs, humping the lawn mower to and fro — in other words, embracing the basic rites of summer. Now it's easy to understand what it was that got into Maria von Trapp.

You'll want — need — strong legs to propel you in these warm-weather pursuits. In fact, legs are the very foundation of summer recreation: They'll work harder than at any other time of the year — unless you happen to be Hilary Lindh. And though you'll need to take certain steps to ensure a smooth transition from indoor workout to outdoor workout, low-impact to high-impact, somewhat dull to wildly exhilarating, it's all in the name of good clean fun. As a bonus, prepping your legs for outdoor activity helps protect against shinsplints, tendinitis, stress fractures, and other such unpleasantries, so it's time very well spent.

Probably the best way to build up your summer legs is to embrace one of three prototypical warm-weather pursuits: in-line skating, running, or cycling. It's likely you'll be doing these things anyway, so it just makes sense to use their inherent conditioning benefits to focus your workouts. To help, we've compiled weekly routines for each sport. Find a plan that suits your fancy — each exercise has slightly different effects on your legs — follow it for a mere four weeks or so, and before long, you'll have a pair of appendages that'll support any summer endeavor with ease.

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