How to Shock & Tone Legs
Legs! For guys large, ripped legs with those teardrop heads are a site that commands strength and respect. For women, firm, petite legs demand attention & are prized accomplishments among your piers. In this blog I cover the basics on how to effectively train legs to achieve those great looking physiques that everyone is working towards.
I’m also covering another topic in this blog post that deals with plateaus. With any exercise program, it is inevitable that at some point you will hit a plateau during your fitness journey. Simply put, at some point during your training, your body will adapt to your training program and you will see a period of no change in both your body transformation & muscle growth. These plateaus can happen for many different reasons & are frustrating to deal with. Stick with me here as I cover several ways in which you can shock & tone your legs through those plateaus and get your growth back on track.
Given the proper stimulus in training, the body’s response to that stimulus is to add an increased amount of muscle to the areas damaged during training. Varying the stimulus by increasing & varying weight keeps the body confused, which causes the body to continue to add muscle to repair damaged tissue.
Over time, not continuing to vary your workouts, intensity & weights used to train causes your body to adapt & become conditioned to the exercises. When this happens the end result is that your body stalls its progression in the form of a plateau.
When it comes to training legs, whether you’re a woman or man, I still recommend the heavy compound lifts. A compound exercise is one that engages several muscle groups at one time. Activating these muscle groups together through heavy & intense compound exercises sends a massive chemical message throughout the body to replenish and recover. Compound lifts stimulates several of your growth hormones that are responsible for muscle growth.
Deadlifts are an excellent compound lift for not only legs but a full body workout. Deadlifts are performed using a barbell and adding enough weight to get 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps in a set. When doing the deadlift, strict form is crucial to its effectiveness. Make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight, head and eyes up. As you lift the bar to a standing position, push the shoulders back to accentuate a standing posture.
I always perform deadlifts with shoes off. Making sure your feet are flat on the floor causes you to push with your heels and the back half of your foot rather than from your toes. Doing so puts more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes.
The Squat is another full body compound exercise that is great for leg development and toning. Squats are performed by bending your hips and knees while the barbell is resting on your upper-back. Starting from a standing position, keeping your back straight and neutral, bend your knees and your legs outward. Squat down as low as possible and then push the squat back up to a standing position. Use enough weight to get 4 or 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps. I also recommend varying the squat by using a decline bench to gauge how low you get. Also vary your stance while squatting by alternating between a wide stance, medium stance and narrow stance. Doing so will hit the glutes and hamstrings (Wide stance) and more of quads (Medium & Narrow) stance.
The walking lunge is a great exercise to hammer legs and also glutes and hamstrings. Using dumbbell weights layout a path that will cause you at least 5 reps or more while you “walk” the lunge along the path. Starting in a standing position, move 1 leg forward and then lower down onto 1 knee. To emphasize the effectiveness of this exercise, lower yourself down to one knee slowly and really focus on the negative part of this exercise. When you touch the floor with one knee, raise back up and bring the back leg up to your front leg, returning to a standing position. Repeat this until you have walked the entire length of your path. Each pass along the walk path is one set.
Utilize these techniques to train your legs and blast through your plateaus and you will definitely see progress and gains in your development. But be warned, your legs will be screaming for mercy at the end of this workout.