Yes, the longest-legged models benefit from a set of fabulous genes. But certain exercises can lengthen your own leg muscles and make them look a little more like the ones you see on fashion show runways.
Start with the moves below, designed by Rachel Piskin, co-founder of ChaiseFitness in Manhattan, to sculpt long, lean leg muscles. They’re demoed by pro model Claire Vanbeber, 22, who walked in five fashion shows (Charlotte Ronson, Zangtoi, Maria Ke Fisherman, Azede Jean-Pierre, Stella Nolasco) during her first New York Fashion Week, and is currently vying for gigs in this winter’s New York Fashion Week.
Complete 20 reps of each exercise on each side before moving on to the following exercise. Perform the whole shebang a few times a week to see results. (All you need is a Theraband, or a pair of tights, if you don’t have a band.)
1. Pencil Side Leg: Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet together. From this position, soften your left knee and lift your right knee straight out to the side, and lower it to nearly touch your toes to the ground. Pulse back up two times. On the last pulse, touch just your right toes to the ground, transfer your weight to the right leg, and bring your left toes to meet your right toes, keeping your heels off the ground the whole time. Next, step back out with your left foot, and bring your right foot to meet your left to complete one rep.
What it does: Promotes posture, core strength, balance, and inner and outer thighs, calves, and ankles.
2. Bow and Arrow Lunge: Stand with both arms extended in front of you at shoulder-height. Take a large step forward with your left leg. From this position, bend both knees to 90-degree angles, and lower into a forward lunge. Push through your left heel to come back up to standing position. Next, rotate your right toes to point toward the right, and plant your right heel as you bend your right arm to drive the right elbow across your chest and out to the right side. Keeping your shoulders over your hips, bend both knees and lower down into a plié. Press up through your heels, turn your right toes to your left, and extend the right arm straight in front of you to complete one rep.
What it does: Builds core strength and balance, lengthens the quads, and strengthens your glutes and inner and outer thighs.
3. Curtesy Passé: Grab both ends of the Theraband (or tights) and hold them together with one fist over the other. Then, place your left foot in the center of the band with your toes turned slightly out. Keeping the band taut and close to the center of your chest, cross your right leg behind your body, and bend both knees to lower your body into a curtsy lunge. At the same time, shift your fists over your left hip, and pull the band up toward your chin with your elbows out to the sides. From this position, press up through your left heel to stand and bring your arms back to starting position. Next, drive your right knee out to the right side as you bring your right toes toward your standing knee. Step back into a curtsy lunge to complete one rep.
What it does: Strenthens your core, improves your balance, works your glutes and hamstrings.
4. Arabesque Lunge: Hold one end of the Theraband (or tights) in each hand, and place your left foot in the center of the band. Extend both hands straight out in front of you to form a V with your arms. Without dropping them, take a large step behind you with your right leg, and bend both knees to lower your body into a backward lung. Pulse twice, then press up through the left leg, hinge forward from the waist to lift your back leg up off the floor, and point the right toes behind you.
What it does: Builds core strength, improves your balance, and strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs.
5. Side Leg Extension: Wrap one end of the Theraband (or tights) a few times around each hand, and kneel on your left knee with your left palm on the ground and your right hand extended straight up. Extend your right leg straight out to the side and point your toes. From this position, move only the right leg as you engage the outer thigh to lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling. Lower back down to the floor with control to complete one rep.
What it does: Strengthens the glutes and outer thighs, and lengthens the quads.
6. Kneeling Knee Dip: Get on your hands and knees with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your knees under your hips. Cross your left knee and foot over your right calf. Without changing the angle of your knee and foot, drive your left knee straight out to the side, then lower it back to starting position with control to complete one rep.
What it does: Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, and outer thighs.