Deadlifting is the king! Leaner legs all depend on what kind of genetics you’ve been blessed with. Unfortunately, have not been lucky in that department, therefore, have to work extra hard to get them shapely – incredibly lean! It’s a long journey, and it takes some guts and commitment, but it can be done. Let me share some of my tips with you.
Strong, shapely legs in 6 steps
- Focus on diet first. This is not only about what to eat to get lean, but it’s also essential to base your nutrition on exercise frequency, recovery and volume. Knowing what kinds of foods to eat, and the frequency will help you achieve your goals. This isn’t an overnight success, and it does take some time and experimentation to work out. As you know your body better than anyone else, becoming aware of how different foods affect your moods, energy and body composition, is something to focus on. Are you more tolerant of carbs? Can you get away with eating larger meals? Do you get lean fast, or put on weight very quickly. Pay attention to these signs, and start tweaking. For me, intermittent fasting has provided the best and more striking results. I don’t have to think about food much, eat as I usually do, and allow myself to indulge in something 1–2 times per week. When you find something that works, stick to it and decide from the results you are getting, if it’s worth your time and effort. If yes, stick with it and keep at it. This is a lifetime strategy, not something we do for three months.
- Deadlifts – but heavy. Don’t be afraid of heavyweights. No exercise shapes the hamstrings, glutes, quads and burns body fat, as much as deadlifts. These should be a must during your leg day sessions. The technique is not as tricky as a squat, and you can even use a hex bar to start you off on the right path. This is an excellent place for beginners to start. Grab the bar on both sides of the body with a neutral grip. The weight’s distributed uniformly over your centre, then with the barbell. It’s a much easier motion to learn. Soon enough, with a bit of practice, you will be able to transition to the barbell. Hex bar training is also suitable for anyone with a back injury, during their late recovery stage. It works well because of the even distribution of stress through the joints. Ask your health professional first if this is an issue for you.
- Squats – but go down low. Deep squats are essential, as it’s a fundamental, everyday movement for humans. It improves flexibility & balance in the lower body. It would help if you went down enough for the hamstrings cover your calf. If you do this, it will improve the stability and strength of the cartilage tissue and ligaments surrounding the knees. Let’s not forget the increase in muscle and strength that will develop in the hamstring and quad area. If you are a runner, your knees and running speed is a must. Deep squats will enhance both of these aspects. If you don’t have the flexibility to lower yourself in this fashion, place a plate under both of your heels and perform elevated heel squats. Soon enough, you will be able to transition to the full squat at maximum range.
- Single leg training – allow some extra time for this one. Unilateral training (single-limb focus) is terrific for developing both sides of the body equally. We are all subject to having one leg stronger than the other, and this will help us build our weaker link. I like to focus on step-ups, leg press and even leg extensions in this form. Step-ups are great for developing the vastus madialis obliquus (VMO) which is a weak and under-developed area in the quads. This can also be developed with leg extensions and presses by alternating your foot angle (outward stance). I love sculpted quads and VMO. You can tell who is working these muscles to their full potential by observing their quad development. Don’t forget that quads are just as important to develop as hamstrings. You may be genetically gifted in one, rather than the other. Use this to your full advantage, but don’t forget the weaker links.
- Sprinting – up hills are best, but the treadmill is a lot more convenient. Sprints are great for burning body fat fast, whilst increasing leg development strength and preserving muscle mass. I would start with two sessions per week, for a maximum duration of 20 minutes. You can re-position the incline of the treadmill to simulate a hill, and increase the speed as you become more experienced. Train these on a completely different day from your strength training. If you don’t have time for HIIT, then do not sacrifice a weights session for it. A brisk walk for your cardio session is more than enough if you are time-poor.
- Supplement bonus – Try DIM (but consult your doctor first) This is one supplement I take regularly. It’s derived from broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables that affect hormonal balance and can minimise the harmful effects of excess estrogen. Studies show that DIM aids in better metabolism of estrogen. It’s also great at eliminating menstrual discomfort, acne and menopausal symptoms. Let’s not forget how effective it is as encouraging fat loss on the lower body! Men can take this as well, as they can sometimes battle high estrogen levels, especially as they age. I love this supplement because it’s worked very well for me over the years, and I advocate taking this supplement. If you are doubtful, please ask for your doctor’s permission first.
These strategies will allow you to get closer to your goal than ever before. It does take time, effort and lots of commitment, but you can do it! I know this is true, because I’m still developing my legs, and I really love the results it brings. If you would like to keep in touch during your journey, please do contact me on these various platforms if you need further assistance, join me on facebook and instagram account. Please feel free to upvote this answer.
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