Legs You'll Love
By Andy G
While most men spend much of their workout time focusing on the muscles above the waist (chest, arms, back), let's face it, ladies are often more concerned about the parts below the waist. Whether you want to run faster, get stronger or look absolutely killer in a short skirt, your leg work probably takes up a big part of your time in the gym.
If that's the case, you're in luck, because over the past years, we've spent a lot of time talking to the owners of arguably the best pairs of pins in the fitness business. Here are their secrets to strong sexy legs.
Because your upper body and gravity already offer resistance during your leg workout, you can increase the intensity of squats, lunges and similar movements in ways other than simply lifting heavier weights. One great way to up the intensity is to slow your tempo from, say, a normal two-or-three-count to a five-count on the way down. If you want to get radical, you can even stop a few times for a few seconds, descending in a staggered fashion.
If you do unilateral exercises and find that one leg is indeed stronger than the other, train the weak leg first, and allow it to determine how much weight you use and how many reps you complete. On leg press, for example, if you can do 10 reps with your right leg and 15 with your left, do 10 for both until the right catches up.
When you squat and lunge, focus on keeping your glutes contracted. People often visualise these as legs-only exercises, because that's where the movement's occurring, but the glutes handle much of the load. Squeeze the muscles throughout the exercise.
People often debate whether you should pop back up out of squats immediately or pause for a second or two at the bottom, but the best strategy for most types of squats is an intermediate technique called "elastic recoil" not a big bounce, but just enough so that the change in direction uses some of the elastic energy transfer in your body.
Try something different every time you train legs. Everything you can think of. Never stagnate.
Mix up your leg training as much as possible. This is nearly as important as rest when it comes to allowing your muscles to recover from workout to workout. If you don't want to devote entire month-long cycles to, say, heavy leg training, just throw a heavy leg day into the mix on occasion. The response of everything from your central nervous system to your growth hormones will be different that day, and as a result, you'll be less likely to stagnate.
The biggest mistake beginners make is training their legs too frequently. If they're training according to a body-part split, most women really don't need to train legs more than once every five days or so. If you're an athlete and your legs are used to greater stimulus, your frequency could be 3 days or so.
Do lots of cardio. Running and stair-stepping in particular are good nor only for cardiorespiratory endurance but also for sculpting your legs and glutes. Increase the focus on your glutes by stepping two steps at a time to raise the angle of hip extension.
On squats and lunges, always keep your knees aligned with your feet. Once your knees drift out in front, they're in a compromised position that can lead to injury. Also, don't go to failure on these exercises until you've mastered proper technique.
Don't shy away from leg exercises just because they feel awkward or difficult at first. Is it easier to master leg extension than the lunge? Absolutely. Does that mean you shouldn't bother with lunges? Absolutely not. Because lunges require you to use more than one set of joints, recruit a lot more ancillary muscles and require more balance, they're going to be harder to do at first - it's the nature of the beast. That's why you should be doing them, not avoiding them.
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