Whats your favorite area to target during exercise???
Is it the Glutes?? Back? Shoulders? Biceps? It seems everyone has something that gets them extra stoked to get in the gym! Mine is usually glutes/leg day. I love working my lower body! (probably because it’s my stronger half) I tend to have 3-4 days of the week that are primarily focused on my legs and glutes. To some that is too much, but EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! And since I am currently in marathon training, my workout regime fits my goals.
I’d like to remind you of a few key notes before I tell you what Leg Exercises are working for me.
- Our bodies are not cookie cutter one-size fits all…nor do they have the same strengths & weaknesses. My body frame is athletic; with strong legs, narrow hips, short torso, and impressive stamina (if i do say so myself) haha not trying to boast, just observing and reflecting on my pros and cons.
- When deciding to try new exercises, please properly stretch beforehand to prevent strains or injuries.
- Make the first set of each exercise a “warm-up set” by starting at a low resistance. Learn what resistance/weight is challenging for you to perform but not overly strenuous to be counterproductive. We want to create workout regimes that you can be consistent with! Consistency creates results! And you can NOT be consistent if you’re injured.
- And lastly, these moves are simple. I’m never going to tell you that you need to try the craziest latest exercise to have great legs. No. You’ll get results if you put in the effort. Simple as that.
Okay I’m done with the rule book! Let’s get to the fun part!!!
Muscles grow when they have the proper stress applied to them as well as the proper amount of rest/recovery. Performing strenuous activity applies a stress in your muscles, thus creating tiny little tears in your muscle fibers. Once given proper rest/recovery & nutrition, your body replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands; aka Myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and quantity to create MUSCLE GROWTH . Woohoo science!!!
Idk about you, but knowing the science behind what’s happening to my body throughout exercise helps me understand what I need to do to achieve the results I want. So I hope that helps you too!
Most of our daily lives require sitting long hours at work, sitting in the car, and not USING or ACTIVATING our glutes; causing those booty muscles to go into a resting state. We need to wake them up again! Activate your glutes in your warm up before heavy lifting to get your butt ready for the bigger exercises you plan to do in your workout. Creating blood-flow through muscle activation also helps the muscle perform better during exercise. Activation also helps create the mind-muscle connection so that you can really target the areas of focus.
- Glute Bridge with Heavy Resistance band (add 25 dumbell for more resistance)
- Straight leg raises (3 X 20)
- Fire-hydrants (3 X 20)
- Donkey Kicks (3 X 20)
- Side shuffle or Crab Walks (3 X 20)
- You can add resistance bands to all of the above to add more of a challenge ^
Side Leg Raises on Cable Machine:
- Since I have narrow hips, I really try to strengthen/grow the muscles on my outer hips. If you’re like me in that department, try these!
- I don’t think I need to go into too much detail with this move, we are all very familiar with a Squat. It’s a classic leg/butt exercise because it is EFFECTIVE. Don’t phase this classic move out of your leg routine unless you have lower back trouble. Also remember your mind-muscle connection during this move to get the most out of your workout!
- Squat Variations: Simple body weight squat. Squat Pulses! Kettle bells swings with Squat. Just remember to get low, chest proud, knees behind your toes, and put your weight on your heels.
Don’t neglect your hammies! Those babies are one of the main muscles responsible for running fast & heavily involved in knee stabilization. If your going to be doing lots of squats, you want your knees to be strong and stable! Also, having strong hamstrings help make your backside look good too! It’s a win/win situation.
- Kettle bell One-Legged Deadlift: My go-to move. This move helps strengthen your hamstrings along with working on your balance, and stability. ITS MY FAVORITE! And so simple. I prefer to use a kettle bell or a weight plate but you can also use a dumbbell.
- Romanian Deadlift: To be honest I don’t get too fancy with my Hamstring exercises. I stick to the basics because they work for me. So here’s another key move. In the Romanian deadlift, you’re going to want to move your butt back. Think of it as a horizontal movement, as opposed to a vertical movement like our other deadlifts. Your butt will move back with the knees slightly bent. Keep your head up, chest proud, trying to create as much distance between your chin and your butt as you can. You want to focus on driving your hips forward while pulling the bar straight up.. Key note: If you’re able to touch your toes during this movement, you’re doing it wrong. This is not a big movement. It’s controlled and focused.
- Stability Ball Hamstring Curls: Ooo this one burns so good!!! This move took some work for me to get the hang of b/c I lack basic coordination skills. But hopefully it wont be as tricky for you. If it is, just stick with it 🙂 Practice makes perfect right?!
Who’s all about getting your heart rate up?! If you’re not familiar with this term yet, Plyometrics are explosive exercises that burn tons of calories, improve agility, strength, speed, and balance. So here are some of my favorites for legs!
- Alternating Jump Lunges
- Squat Jumps
- Power Knee Drives
Okay, I know not everyone enjoys cardio. But hey, if your goal is to have to lean, sculpted legs…Cardio can REALLYYY help. Cardio doesn’t always mean running. I know that’s initially where a lot of our minds go to but that’s not the only option. Here’s a few of my favorite cardio options.
- Running: Obviously. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and tone those legs. Personally I don’t workout my calves in the gym, so running and wearing heels everyday for work is the way I tone my calves.
- Walking on the Treadmill ON INCLINE: Crank that baby UP! Put the incline on 7-10 and walk at the highest speed you can without having to grab the handlebars. The whole point of walking on incline becomes defeated when you grab that handlebar for help. DON’T DO IT. This cardio option is great for the back of your legs (butt & hamstrings) and also a great way to get your heart rate up without having to go for a run.
- Jump Rope: This is a great way to get that heart rate up, burn calories, work on endurance, speed, agility, power, endurance, balance and coordination! And for all my runners, it’s a great option for cross-training days 🙂
- CycleBar: I’m sure any cycle class is great, but CycleBar is bae OK! Seriously, it’s such a fun workout and great way to burn those legs & burn calories. You can try your first class for free and see if it’s something you like! I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried it.
There ya have it!
Like I said, I keep it simple. These are probably workouts that you have all tried before or at least heard of. I don’t do alllll of these exercises every time I hit legs. I do a variation of a handful of these moves and create a circuit for that day. But everyday I incorporate these steps: 1) activate muscles 2) strength performance exercises 3) & cardio! Some days I do cardio first, just depends…
Nothing fancy, just consistent hard work.
You’re stronger than you think
& only one workout away from a good mood!
💋 XOXO MrsFitz