The legs are usually one of the most undertrained parts of the body among people who work out. Almost everyone wants washboard abs, a big muscular chest and ripped arms. But great looking legs? Not so much. However, a balanced workout means working on your legs as well. Here are four training tips for strengthening your legs.
Target a combo of muscles
If you do leg exercises that target only one particular muscle, chances are you’ll be burned out before you’ve completed all your leg training exercises. The most optimal way is to do exercises that utilize several muscle groups. For instance, squats can hit three muscle groups all at once—your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Another exercise that targets multiple muscles groups is the step-up. This is performed when you step-up on an elevated platform with one foot, followed by your other foot until you stand with both feet on the platform. Then, step back again, starting with your lead foot. Lunges offer the same benefits. Targeting several muscles groups at one time through muscle combo exercises will not only save on training time but, will also have the effect of accelerating your metabolism. That’s because your body is giving the signal that more muscles are being utilized and should, therefore, burn more calories in order to fuel those muscles.
Maximize benefits by using diverse combos
While on the topic of multi-muscle group exercises, maximize the benefits of this type of exercise by diversifying the combo. Although this seems a bit complicated, it really isn’t. It just means that you need to take a different angle, for example, lunges don’t always need to be done to the front. How about trying some side lunges, or even back ones? You can also add weights to increase the level of intensity. Why the need for change? Well, because the lower part of your body is comprised of large muscle groups. These groups have numerous fibers in different directions. The more angles your exercises cover, the more fibers are targeted, improving your overall leg workout. Squats can also be modified to maximize benefits. You can add back squats and split squats to your leg routine.
Bring on the weights
Although bodyweight exercises, like lunges, squats, and step-ups, are effective, if you really want to intensify your workout, you have to bring in the big guns—weights and machines.
Start with a kettlebell. Tightly grasp the handle of the kettlebell then dip down (like in a squat), lowering the kettlebell between your legs. Now, swing the kettlebell up by getting up using the power of your thighs and legs. You should be in a standing position, with your knees slightly bent. Your arms should be straight, in front of your chest. That’s a one count. Do as many as you can.
Angled leg curl. You’ll need a leg curl machine with an inclined bench for this exercise. Lie face down on the machine. Your knees should not be on the bench, and the upper part of your ankles should be on the extension pad, then lift the weights while engaging the muscles in your lower back and hamstrings. Remember not to rush this exercise. Take your time, feel every contraction this exercise makes.
Contract your muscles, including your core
You don’t want to rush exercises just for the sake of finishing them. Take the time to contract your leg muscles, glutes and thighs to help maximize the effectiveness of the exercises. This includes your core. Why include your core when it’s all about your lower body? Well, if you want to strengthen your lower body, you need to have a strong core.
Finally, as you work to strengthen your legs, don’t forget to wear a durable pair of shoes with lots of support. Your feet and ankles will definitely take a beating so you’ll need a strong shoe with good cushioning, without compromising your ability to move. Reebok, for instance, because of its ties with CrossFit, produces tough but flexible shoes. Also, choose shoes with good traction. You’ll need good grip to prevent slips and slides as you move, especially when it involves weights. You can check out their shoes at all trusted Reebok shops.