Let's talk about legs. Strong legs means more than a hot pair of gams! Our legs are comprised of some of the largest muscle groups in our body and carry us from place to place... so they're pretty important. At the most basic level, legs can be broken down into the quadriceps (the front of the thighs); and the hamstrings (the back of the thighs); and the glutes (even though they're not actually part of the leg).
Since the muscle groups are so large, it means they burn the most calories. And since muscles burn more calories at rest than fat, developed leg muscles will help burn even more calories at rest. They also provide the most energy based on their size, so stronger legs will increase endurance. Increased endurance means less fatigue. Less fatigue means more partying!
Legs take us from point A to point B, so while leg muscles look really awesome (in my opinion), they are also vital for helping us maintain mobility.
In addition to those facts, leg exercises that include multiple joints (such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges) necessitate increased core stability. This means that muscle, tendon and ligament recruitment is increased, so general strength and stability throughout your entire body will increase. Remember, as women (I'm just gonna assume most of you are women), we do not have enough testosterone to get really huge leg muscles. We do, however, tend to have a much stronger lower body than upper body (relatively speaking), so we can lift pretty heavy weights!
Do not be afraid to push it more than you think you can! Also, try to get a combination of free weights and machines, as machines target one specific muscle group and free weights target multiple muscle groups (aka stabilizers).
With that said, the following is my most recent leg workout. It combines barbells, machines and kettlebells with cardio intervals. Doing cardio intervals with strength training exercises utilizes the aerobic and anerobic systems. The aerobic system maintains endurance and the anaerobic system maintains short, high intensity exercise. Improving both systems increases cardiovascular capacity in much less time.
Leg Interval Workout
Complete each strength exercise 10 to 12 times. Complete each cardiovascular interval for 30 seconds. Complete entire circuit four times, resting one minute between circuits.
- Front squat to back squat
- Pulsing squat (30 seconds)
- Quad extension with oblique crunch
- Foot fires (30 seconds)
- Hamstring curls with hyperextension
- Jump lunges (30 seconds)
- Kettlebell swing with flip to squat
See slideshow for pictures of each exercise
Pictures c/o Flex and Shout Fitness.