Everyone has seen the model with the beautiful abs, the great arms, awesome chest, beautiful smile…wearing long pants. You know the ones, that wear shorts to the beach…look good in dresses and long skirts only. Those are the ones. It is unfortunate, but this happens to be a problem for many people. Some are just naturally thin, others, from excessive dieting and cardio work, simply lose the leg muscle they once had.
In order get out of this dilemma, there is a program that will work for nearly everyone. If you want to improve leg and butt tone, while adding some muscle to your legs, then read on.
Warm-up. First of all, any good workout starts with a warm-up. This can be accomplished via several methods. A brisk walk or stationary bike ride works, as do basic leg extensions on a machine. Typically, you will want to spend about 5 mins warming up, in order to insure good blood flow to the hips and knees, in particular. Once warmed up, the workout begins.
Exercise 1 – Squats. This is the grandfather of all leg exercises and still, to this day, the most effective at conditioning and improving leg tone and muscle size. It is important to keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and your knees facing forward. Insure that you are always comfortable with the weight chosen prior to starting any motion.
The first set is simply a warm-up, so a weight is chosen that can be used comfortably for 15-20 repetitions. After the first set, three additional sets are done with increasingly heavy weights, in the following order:
- 2nd set – 12-15 reps
- 3rd set – 10-12 reps
- 4th set – 8-10 reps
A final set is performed using the weight of the first set. For this one, you will go to muscle failure, as kind of a ‘Burn-out” set.
Exercise 2 – Lunges. Lunges, just the term sounds harsh. In particular, ladies, this exercise will make your butt harden up like nothing else. Now, the exercise can be done with either a short step or a long step. The shorter the step, the more butt it works. The longer the step, the more thigh activation occurs. It is important to use both ranges of motion to insure complete leg work. One last tip, make sure that the knee cap does not extend past the end of the striding foot. This will cause tendonitis that can be very painful, so be careful and always practice good form. The working sets, of which there are 4, should be performed quickly, with alternating leg motions. Each set should consist of 10-20 repetitions per leg. Each of these sets is performed using the same weight.
Exercise 3- Leg Curls. This exercise focuses on the back of the leg, as well as the butt. This area is known as the hamstring and is the runners muscle. It is also the muscle that keeps your legs from disappearing when you turn sideway. The leg curl can be done in a lying or standing position, and either is very effective. Again, for this motion, you will be using a weight that you can get comfortable get 10-20 time, with incremental changes each set, progressively getting heavier each time.
Exercise 4 – Standing Calf Raises. To round off the workout, we have to finish with the calves. There are two types of calf raises typically used; one is standing and the other sitting. Standing will help with the muscle that everyone sees when you are in heels. The calf is a very dense muscle since it gets used all the time when walking. Therefore, to truly work it, you will need to use heavy weights, for four sets. Each set will consist of 20-25 repetitions. It is important to go slow when doing this and get a full stretch at the bottom of the motion.
To see maximum results, this program should be done twice a week, never more. In the beginning, unless you are currently training, it would be wise to only do half of the program the first two times in the gym. This is to ensure that you can still walk the next day!!