Weekend Challenge: Femur And Leg Builder - Save Our Bones

This weekend’s challenge is an exercise that targets the lower body. It not only strengthens the muscles and bones in your hips and legs, but also fine-tunes your balance.

This is a highly effective move to avoid femoral fractures, which are of special concern if you’ve ever taken bisphosphonates.

And I also share with you eye-opening statistical research on exercising regularly after a certain age.


There’s little doubt that sedentary adults experience a decrease in strength and balance, making exercise a top priority as you age. Specifically, targeted exercises that directly address the muscles and movements involved in balance, like today’s challenge, are especially important.

Bone also tends to weaken with age if you’re not proactive at building and restoring bone through nutrition and exercise. Savers know that bone is strengthened by exercise as per Wolff’s Law. Moves like today’s Femur And Leg Builder hone in on the pelvis and thigh bones.

Ironically, bisphosphonates, the most popular class of osteoporosis drugs, actually increase the risk of femoral fractures. So if you’ve ever taken them, it’s important to take proactive steps toward supporting your body with bone-smart nutrition and exercise.

In order to promote healthy bone remodeling (which includes bone building) in the femur and hips, you need to work the muscles surrounding those bones. Here are some of the muscles worked in today’s exercise.

  • Rectus femoris

    This muscle is one of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps, or quads. It lies in the front center of the thigh, and works to raise and extend the knee, and also to bend and flex the thigh. Interestingly, the rectus femoris is the only muscle that flexes the hip.

  • Adductor longus

    An adductor moves parts of the body toward the center of the body. The adductor longus originates at your pubic bone and inserts at the posterior surface of the femur. Its primary role is to move your thigh inward.

  • Adductor magnus
    This is also an adductor, obviously – it also begins at the pubic bone, but it inserts along a greater area of the femur. It works with the adductor longus to bring your leg toward your body’s center.
  • Vastus medialis
  • This muscle is an extensor, meaning it extends the knee. It’s also part of the quadriceps, and is located in the inside-middle of the thigh. The vastus medialis originates at the femur, where it attaches in a continuous line rather than at intermittent points. It inserts at the inside of the kneecap.

  • Gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus

    Your “glutes” define your hip shape to a great extent. All three of these muscles originate at the pelvis (specifically, the ilium and sacrum) and insert at the femur. The glutes are multi-functional – they bring your leg outward (abduction) and rotate your hip joint inward and outward. The glutes are, in fact, pivotal in the unique human ability to walk upright. It stands to reason that strong glutes greatly enhance balance.

As you can see, many of these muscles attach directly to the femur bone, so working them, as in today’s challenge, stimulates femoral bone growth. Now let’s look at how to do the Femur And Leg Builder.


Because this exercise involves standing on one leg at a time, it’s a good idea to stand near a wall, bed, or chair, so you have something to hold on to or catch you if you lose your balance.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring one leg up to about knee height (we will start with the right leg for clarity). Point your toes.
  3. Keeping your toes pointed, sweep your right leg around to the left (adduction), up, and around to the right (abduction), making a clockwise circle.
  4. Continue this circular motion until you’ve done 12 circles (or as many as you’re comfortable with). Keep your tummy pulled in, your abs engaged, and your toes pointed throughout.
  5. Switch legs and perform another set of 12 (or less).

Your standing leg also uses the muscles in the thigh and glutes to keep you stable as you do this exercise. So you’re working both legs at the same time, just in different ways.

This and other similar exercises, like another Weekend Challenge called the 3-Way Femur Builder And Balance Improver, focus on the muscles and bones you need to strengthen, especially as you age.

Additionally, standing on one leg is an excellent way to enhance your balance and prevent falls. Balance and strength are concerns for all adults, but particularly for those 65 and over. And as you’ll read next, the number of older adults who actually work out regularly is quite small, according to research.

Review: Most Adults 65 And Over Are Not Exercising Regularly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed data from the National Health Interview Survey, and the results are really discouraging. They showed that only 12% of people aged 65-74 – and only 10% of those over 75 – met the “strength-training objective” of physical exercise more than two days per week.1

So I’d love to encourage Savers to improve those numbers! If that seems daunting to you, don’t worry – Densercise™ makes it simple. If you’re 65 or older, once you begin, you’ll already be well ahead of most of your peers, because Densercise™ is meant to be practiced three days a week, not just two days a week which was the target for physical activity according to the review.

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So stay active and strong, and share your thoughts with the community on this important topic.

Have a great weekend!


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Strength training among adults aged >/=65 years – United States, 2001.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 53. 2. (2004): 25-8. Web. July 21, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14737059

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Maryceline

    Just diagnosed femur osteoporosis awaiting permission to receive alendronic injections I am now concerned with your article stating that this drug can cause fractures is this the bishoponsates drug welcome any comments

  2. Louise Osgood

    Vivian,I know that I have osteoporosis in my left hip and just beginning in my spine.My head has been damaged by a hemorrhagic stroke in 2009. I am now 67. My sense of balance is also bad. Do I really Need this type of exercise and risk falling? Ms Osgood

  3. cassie

    The description states you are starting with right leg which is incorrect.
    Anatomically speaking it is the left leg.

  4. Tom

    Are instructions correct? If you raise right leg and swing it left you swing it across left leg, not out away from body as animation shows.

    • Laura

      Tom, I noticed this too. It must be an error and shows the 2nd part of the exercise.

  5. Tom

    Instructions seem to contradict animation. If lifting right leg u swing it OUT which would be to the right.

    • Linda

      Instructions also say to raise leg to knee height, while picture shows leg raised to hip height. Which is correct?

  6. Sonay Blazek

    I find necessary to walk daily 3 hours and do strech exercises with weights.I also have bone support from eating calcium rich foods.

  7. Joan Campbell

    Do you have any plans to make DVDs of your excercises programme?I only have an I-pad and it’s no good for following the exercises.Thank you.Joan

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Stay tuned, Joan! In the meantime, you should be able to follow the Densercise manual on your iPad – it’s the main information for the exercises. The videos are demonstrations to clarify each move, and are not meant to be “followed” like an exercise video. 🙂

  8. elaine yentob

    After 2 years on your savers programme I have managed to add a little bone to my hips – my T- score is -1.2 which is in the high osteopenic range not significantly different from the previous value but no loss and a slight gain. Disappointing however that my lumber spine has a T score of -2.3 in the low osteopenic range and I have a small drop from the previous value. Can someone explain why the spine has lost so much more than the hips!! I follow the diet, the supplements and the exercise daily…………what more can I do to help my bones??

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Elaine,

      Unfortunately, but there’s no way to give you a clear-cut answer on why you have the loss in your spine but not your hips. Your past medical history may contain clues; your doctor should be able to go over that with you. Your lifestyle, past and present, would also have to be taken into account. For example, if you spend a lot of the day sitting down, that could affect your results. There are just too many individual variables for us to be able to address the “whys” of specific results.

      The good news, though, is that there are many exercises targeted for the spine so you can focus on building bone in this area. And you also deserve a congratulations for the improved hip density!

  9. David Dressler, BA, RMT

    While preventing and reversing osteoporosis is vitally important, this cannot be done by simply exercising the legs. And it is not true that osteoporosis only occurs in the legs. Bone loss occurs all over the body when it is present in the legs. Thus, a person can exercise the legs regularly and have osteoporosis in their arms and, most important, in their spine.

    This is why it is crucially important to do weight-lifting or resistance exercises for the upper limbs and spine. Resistance training, not stretching, builds muscle mass and can restore bone mass or prevent its loss.

    Don’t believe this? When astronauts go into space, even for a few weeks, they develop total-body osteoporosis in just that little time. Why? Because their bodies are floating in zero gravity. They don’t weigh anything anymore. Their muscles have nothing to resist, no weight to lift. When they return to Earth, they are wobbly, have trouble balancing, and have to re-train to regain muscle and bone mass.

    So, here on Earth, we also need to exercise the entire body against gravity, which means adding some weight lifting to our upper body.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi David,

      I couldn’t agree more! You’ll find exercises that address all areas of the body on this site (and in Densercise), as well as plenty of articles on how crucial exercise is for bones. It is an absolutely essential component of reversing bone loss.

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