What woman doesn’t want lean and sexy legs? What woman doesn’t want a Brazilian Butt Lift? With the in-style clothes today looking fit and lifted are a must. Tight fitted spandex shorts, Capri pants, spandex pants, and tight tops all showcase a woman’s lower body. Why else would Victoria Secret stamp “Pink” right across the buttocks? And the fitness clothing mogul lululemon has added to the leg crave by manufacturing even more fashionable workout clothing. Fitness clothing does not leave much to the naked eye.
In the 21st century, sleek and provocative pants are in, along with lean and tone “fitness” legs. Developing these fitness legs requires much detail and involves numerous training techniques. Some training techniques come from conventional fitness training, while some techniques are much more unconventional and come from functional training. One might categorize functional training as athletic performance training. Either way, proper leg development is certainly complex.
For those interested in the artistic development of fitness legs, here are ten tips to follow that will surely lead to the lower body of your dreams.
1. Do Not Go Carbs Free. Carbs preserve muscle, and muscle is required to obtain lean legs. With that said, limiting your carbohydrate intake is advantageous. Each meal / snack should contain a balance between carbs, protein and fats, your major macronutrients. Carbs should be restricted to whole food sources such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, faro, Quinoa, etc… Add more carbs in around workout times and take more carbs out at night. Protein intake should be slightly higher around post-workout times, mornings, and balanced throughout each meal throughout the day. Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, salmon, and other Omega-3 sources should be added into each meal in small dosages. Remember, fat is still fat and too much healthy fat is still a bad thing.
2. Resistance Train or Bust. Resistance training is the most popular form of fitness training and is often performed incorrectly. Squats, lunges, step ups, split squats and isometric training are all exercises that must be incorporated into a lower body program. In general, these exercises are often most successful within the repetition ranges of 10 to 15. This repetition range allows for greater muscular development. Choose these more complex movements, such as squats, before you choose the smaller isometric exercises.
3. Power Lift the Fat Off. Power lifting is often thought of as a man’s sport because it uses heavier weighted Squats and Deadlifts. However, performing these two complex exercises with heavier weight is a great way to increase your metabolic rate and caloric expenditure while putting on lower body muscle. Choose 1 day during the week and pick up something heavy. Choose rep counts from 3-5 and pack on the weight to significantly spawn muscle activity. The majority of your squatting should be done from 10-15 reps. Note; it is worth mentioning that a traditional power lifting Squat should be altered. A Power lifting squat is a parallel squat. This form of squatting is not the most optimal form of a squatting for leg development and longevity. As a replacement, perform full Range of Motion (ROM) squats. Full ROM squats require you to go below parallel. Perform full ROM squats as long as you can maintain proper squatting form while doing so.
4. Focus on the Glutes. Contrary to popular belief you cannot truly isolate your glutes during training. To truly develop your glutes, you must do a multitude of repetition protocols, avoid excessive aerobic training, perform full ROM exercises, engage in soft tissue rehab, perform cross training, and choose multiple exercises with added resistance. First, select a 3-5 rep count with a heavier load; second, select an 8-12 rep count with a medium load; and lastly, choose a 15-20 rep count with a lighter load. By altering your rep count you will develop all of the fibers within the glutes. Second, too much cardio is destructive. If you want lifted glutes, resistance training and lifting work wonders. Performing excessive cardio will significantly reduce your glutes lift and size. However, if a small thin / flat butt is what you want, then choose more cardio. Third, perform soft tissue rehab, such as foam rolling, to remove tears and adhesions within your soft tissue. Removal of unwanted tissue adhesions will allow for greater glute / leg development because proper ROM movements can be performed. Fourth, perform cross-energy training 1-2 days per week as a replacement for cardio. Cross-energy training is high intensity training and can aid in drastically reducing body fat levels. However, too much cross-energy training and your glutes will not develop enough. Lastly, choose exercises such as RDL’s, full ROM squats, back extensions, glute-ham raises, and split squats with added resistance. These exercises are the best way to develop those tight, tone and lifted glutes.
5. Jump, Jump, Jump Around! Plyometrics are most commonly associated with box jumps and are seen as athletic movements only. Plyometrics are almost always included in athletic training programs because of their ability to recruit fast twitch (i.e. type II) muscle fiber and generate other adaptations. However, plyometrics can also include other jumping movements, sprinting, and/or change of pace training. For fitness reasons, performing plyometrics will produce superior leg definition while reducing body fat percentages. Find time to incorporate plyometrics on a separate day and/or time within the workout; during the beginning, the end, or even the middle.
6. Functional Training. Functional training is one of the most misunderstood forms of training today. Functional training can be any training methods that are easily translated into our normal actions. In my eyes, functional training should be the best-rounded training. Functional training can include almost any form of exercise. However, for the sake of this article, choose non-traditional exercises and incorporate them into your workouts. These movements can provide for a great change of pace while achieving proper leg development. Examples are medicine ball drills, heavy rope training, suspension training, weight lifting (i.e. Olympic lifting), and other such training.
7. BCAA’s. BCAA’s have shown significant results in increasing lean muscle while decreasing body fat levels. These results must be achieved to develop lean and tone legs. Choose to supplement BCAA’s before, during and after workouts for amazing results.
8. When/if Performing Cardio. Select methods of cardio that are not your typical “plane-Jane” methods. No more jogging on a treadmill and/or riding the Elliptical for an hour. Cardio should be interval running and/or sprints. If you are in the gym, choose a stair master / climber instead of a treadmill. If you do not wish to run, then choose a high inclined treadmill to jog, run, or power walk on. High intensity intervals on a treadmill are ok. However, if you can be blessed to perform cardio outside I highly suggest it. It is a great stress relief and it will make you work tenfold. When outside select hill running or hill sprints when available.
9. Stretch. That’s right, stretching is a great way to achieve Lean and Sexy legs. Tightness within muscles can drastically inhibit results by disallowing full ROM movements; decreased recovery between workouts; leading to muscle imbalances; and inhibiting one’s performance during the workout. Blood flow can be inhibited by adhesions and tears within the tissue. “An elastic tissue is a healthy tissue.” The best time to stretch is after a rigorous workout that was followed by foam rolling.
10. Change It Up. Step away from the leg extensions, the leg curls, and leg press machines! They will never replace the POWER of a squat. In fact, the more you avoid machine-based exercises the better. Instead, select squats, lunges, step ups, ham raises, hyperextensions, RDLs, split squats, Bulgarian squats, deadlifts, and other free-movement training. The other method that needs changing is that stale routine you’ve been doing for too long. Don’t get stuck in a rut and select a routine that you follow for a couple weeks or up to a couple months.
Stick to these tips and in no time, everyone will be asking themselves, “How do you get a pair of legs like that.”