In my experience, the subject of “leg training” has got to be an inquisition that is cross examined, researched, studied, and roasted more regularly than any other topic when it comes to training and exercising. Let me take this opportunity with my experience and practiced opinion to separate the malarkey from the truth.
Ten out of ten women are unhappy with their physiques, more importantly we are morose about the current state of our legs. As a coach, day in and day out, I am confronted with the challenge of “shape shifting the shanks” our limbs are either too big, too shapeless or too skinny.
Men will agree with me here, women are hard to please. Try tell a woman that in order to make a positive physical change, we need to at least fondle the idea of lifting weights. The majority of women will admit that shapely, strong legs are the way forward, the quest for the enticing ITC (Inner thigh clearance) is ongoing with the female of the species.
The mutual element amongst South African women is bulky legs. Statistically this is a common factor.
This article is not about nutrition which will account for 80% of your change, this is about how to make the switch in your training. Hefty legs are a result of numerous things. Namely, diet, estrogen retention, exercise or lack thereof and genetic makeup. These influences may be the cause, but that does not mean we cannot adjust the outcomes.
90% of the women I train naturally lack leg development, where we need to acknowledge that lower body training can have a dramatic effect on our overall physiques. Power is driven from the ground up.
Big exercises, yield big results.
Exercises such as squats and deadlifts will generate more overall body strength than any other exercise there is. Not only building a strong foundation of strength but developing a powerful base for unilateral training. Unilateral exercises (Lunges & single leg exercise variations) are the keys to shapely legs.
In order to make the changes you seek, your body must be ‘stressed’. Muscle demands intensive hard work. Hard work means challenging your legs and overcoming adaptation. Exercises that include the squat and deadlift variations, such as front squats, zercher squats, split squats, deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts etc. as the core of your lower body sessions whilst adding in single leg work such as the lunge variations, single leg deadlift and equivalents, step ups, skater squats etc. These are just some exercises and alternatives that give you solid groundwork to building great legs.
Step off the machines, self-select heavier weights, push your own boundaries. Look around you, what you see everyone else doing in your local gym, do the opposite.
If you want to see changes to your body, challenge it. Simple
Coupling your cardio with some high kicks, hamstring curls and the formidable yes-not machine is going to get you that ITC like a glass of sand will get you hydrated.
Ladies do not be intimidated by barbell squats, deadlifts and heavy lunges. These bad boys of the gym room are what will get your legs screaming for a pair of hot pants. Including these big lifts into your training, adding some high intensity conditioning in the form of hill sprints, stair sprints or sled pushing will not only build lean muscle but it will strip fat faster than you can say “lifting big makes me bulky”.
I am not suggesting you load up that bar and attack it with reckless abandon, start small, find a legitimate coach and test your limits safely. Deadlifting heavy kettlebells in a low rep range is a great start and alternative, as is with your squats, lunges and their variations. Build up and advance with guidance.
Your progress lies in improved capacity for intensity, your neural drive and nervous system adaptation and of course the increased workload. We as women should not be subjected to the “yes no” machines, ab classes, stomach crunches and butt blasters.
It’s about the fundamentals, sticking to the basics that have always worked. Simple.