Few myths are as persistent as those concerning the best way to train legs. Trending at the top of the list goes something like: Lifting weights will make my legs and glutes bigger, bulkier and less flexible than they are now. Yet in reality, most women do not have enough naturally occurring testosterone in their bodies to achieve what they deem as an “excessive” degree of hypertrophy, or muscle growth. Even women who want to get a lot bigger, like competitive bodybuilders, really have to make a concerted effort to achieve that look. And weight training, when performed properly, can make you more flexible, not less. In fact, competitive Olympic-style weightlifters are among the most flexible athletes in the world.
Then there is another myth: Certain alternative training methods will give me long, lean muscles. Actually, our parents are the ones who determine the shape of our muscles. If you want the sleek body lines of a ballet dancer, you better hope you were endowed genetically with long muscle bellies and short tendons.
However, the most common — and damaging — myth goes like this: To reshape my body, especially my legs, my best bet is doing slow, rhythmic cardiovascular activities (treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper and so forth) for 45 to 60 minutes at a time. Wrong again. In reality, resistance training is the key. If you have any lingering doubts, just watch a women’s track and field event on TV next time you get the chance. First, check out the thin, almost emaciated legs of the long-distance runners, whose training consists of endless hours of cardio-type work. Now scope out the sprinters, with their taut cords of leg muscles underpinning a pair of sculpted glutes. In terms of body shaping, the virtues of resistance training and short, explosive movements versus cardio exercise and longer, slower movements are readily apparent.
The following workout exercises does not guarantee to build legs capable of giving you a run for the gold medal, but it will allow you to fulfil your legs’ genetic potential and increase their functional capacity for sport and everyday activities in ways most leg routines can’t, and not to mention, a slimmer and slender waistline. What makes it different? First, it uses a periodized approach to leg training, varying factors like volume and intensity in a science-based, systematic way over time. Such variations produce better results than a static approach to training while lessening the odds of overtraining.
While this program should cover all of your leg-training needs, bear in mind that sculpting a pair of kicking legs requires regular cardio and proper nutrition as well. if you are not already eating healthy, nutrient-dense meals spaced throughout the day, rev up your metabolism by eating smaller meals more frequently and do not shy away from protein either.
Once you get your training and diet working in tandem, you will be kicking legs — and butt — in no time at all!
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, step two to three feet forward with your weaker leg onto a step of a platform. This is the start position. bend both knees and descend until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Push off the heel of your front foot to return to the start position, keeping your chest up, your eyes looking straight ahead and your spine in proper alignment throughout. Repeat for reps, then reverse leg positions and perform an identical number of reps to complete one set.
Stand upright and hold a barbell at arms’ length using a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Keeping your shoulder blades retracted, your lumbar spine in a neutral position, your knees unlocked but straight and the bar close to your body at all times, lower your torso from your hips until your hamstrings are fully stretched, at which point your torso should be roughly parallel to the floor. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position and repeat for reps. Remember not to round your back and keep the bar close to your legs throughout.
Medicine Ball Leg Press
Sit on a leg-press machine and place a volleyball-sized medicine ball between your thighs, just above the knees. Angle your feet slightly outward on the platform (the medicine ball will determine the space between them). Start by unlocking the handles and extending your legs. Maintaining a steady pressure on the medicine ball to keep it from slipping, bend your knees to lower the platform until the upper and lower halves of your legs form the right angles. Do not let your lower back round or your glutes to come off the seat. Push through your heels and drive the weight back up, stopping just short of lockout. Repeat for reps.
Seated Calf Raise
Sit on a machine and lower the resistance pad onto your thighs, near your knees. Place the balls of your feet at the edge of the platform so that your toes are supported and your heels can move freely. Keeping your torso erect, push off the balls of your feet to raise the pads as high as you can, making sure not to pull on the handles. Lower the weight back down until your calves are fully stretched. Repeat for reps.