In today’s article, Aleksandr Osypenko, a fitness trainer at BodyArt fitness, tells us about how to make the legs look sexy and slim.
Sculptured legs won’t come in a week, neither in two weeks or even a month. Of course, how long will it take to shape them depends on what you’ve got now. But even with good starting parameters, 6 weeks is the minimum time you’ll need. And there is more! And you’d better right now forget the idea: “I want to lose only thigh fat and specifically here… and here, other parts are OK.” Losing inches around the waist only is also hardly possible. Although in theory this is possible but in practice it is a very rare case by sheer luck which is called good genetics.
So what do you need to do to make your get beautiful legs?
I understand you want to leapfrog directly to the point, but let’s do a little bit of doubletalk. So why we cannot lose only thigh fat? Because fat is a natural storage of the body’s energy, and our body uses it from all of its areas, however it gets more fat from those areas which bear less functional load. And this is not legs, but arms, our face, upper chest and the chest as a whole. So if you want to keep your upper body in the same condition as it is now, you will have to work on it separately.
If you want to reduce the size of your legs, then it is better to put traditional training routine aside. You will have few options to choose from: circuit training, supersets, aerobics and aerobic and strength exercises. Let’s have a closer look at circuit training since information about it is widely available and the training is well-adaptable to suit any fitness level. This is a type of training where you complete 3 or more exercises in a row without making a break. For example, you need to do 10 exercises during a workout. You do one set of the first exercise then immediately proceed to the second exercises without making a break and so on until you complete the last exercise. In this case, I recommend to pick 8 to 10 exercises performed in 2-4 sets depending on the exercises and your fitness level. Using this training method, you won’t need heavy weights, besides for each exercise you have to complete 20-25 reps. Remember! 20+ reps is the amount you need to aim for. With this approach, your workout will become aerobic training. But this does not mean your legs won’t get tired. If performed properly, this workout should kill your legs so that you’ll find it trouble walking after the session! The structure of this type of training is more complex than in a traditional split training, so set yourself for a hard work. Why choose circuit training? Because this way, you will have a very intense training session in where aerobic load will be mixed up with strength training, and the size of your muscles will not increase. This combination is very effective because aerobic processes are burning fat right during the workout, and the processes initiated by strength training help burn fat after the workout when you rest and your muscles recover. If get the most out of your workout, the aerobic processes will last some longer when you finish your session.
And now let’s talk more specific about the workouts. I would also divide them in two types.
The first type is where exercises are sequenced so that each following exercise would engage fewer muscles than the previous one (leg extensions and hamstring curl or deadlift).
The second type is where each following exercise would engage the same and nearby muscles that were engaged in the previous one (for example: reverse lunges and platform step-ups).
These types of training can be used either at different stages of your training journey, or alternate on different training days. For example, you can start with practising first type of workouts and later add the second type. The reason for this is that during the first training session you will be able to perform more work and fell less tired, since when one some muscles are working, other muscles are resting. And you will be able to do more amount of work than with the second type of training.
Start including the second type training when first type training will not be challenging for you any more. The second type training will help you load a certain thigh area, which you want, more, by targeting the same muscle using different exercises while the amount of work will still be great. Of course, this training method is not a dogma, but rather another approach to training.
So when choosing a training method follow your feelings, whether you will be bored doing same moves, and whether there is an opportunity to train with a trainer, since changing programs requires a lot of knowledge and it would be better if have someone around who will guide you on this.
Now let’s speak about how often you should train. I would recommend to start with two workouts per week, not more, or one workout followed by three days of rest. Then you cut your rest days to two days between your workouts, and then smoothly switch to working out three times a week. If you are fit enough and you have a desire, you may go for four workouts per week, but in this case do not use same type workouts on every session, change them. If this is still not enough for you, make them upper body and aerobic only workouts. And make sure you have at least one day of total rest during a week. Some people might ask, what about training one muscle group a week?! Yes, we go against this rule, because muscles need rest in order to grow, but in our case we are not training for growth. We need to act smoothly, step by step, making them slimmer and burning more calories. Building muscles is a secondary task. For the same reason, you don’t need to change your program at each session. Yes, doing the same program session by session initially might be hard, but your legs will get used it over time, your muscles will adapt to the load and endurance will increase, which is what we need and which means your anaerobic mechanism is improving, and this is one of the main fat-burning mechanisms.
I would personally recommend doing three workouts a week alternating them with one 1-hour cardio day and one rest day.
Always remember to start and end your every workout with some cardio! 8-15 min. at the start (to prepare your heart and body for intense work), and in the end – up to 40 minutes. Any cardio machine will be good, but it is very advisable to spend some time on a stepper machine or do incline walking.
JUMP ROPE! Unless you have restrictions (knee joint injuries, serious spinal cord disorders or ankle injuries), then this is your faithful friend and ally in achieving your goals, especially for those who want to have well-shaped calfs. Use jump rope as one of the cardio exercises.
First type training program example: 2-4 circuits
- Forward lunges, alternating legs, 40 reps (20 per leg)
- Wide stance squats (plie) 20 reps
- Legs extensions 25 reps
- Romanian deadlift 15 reps
- Medium-stance leg press 25 reps
- Machine hamstring curl 20 reps
- Alternate side lunges 40 reps (20 per leg)
- Alternate platform step-ups 40 reps (20 per leg)
- Weighted squats 25 reps
- Hyperextension 20 reps
Abs (performed as a separate exercise after completing all circuits)
Second type training program example: 2-4 circuits
- Legs extensions 20 reps
- Leg press 25 reps
- Squats 25 reps
- Wide stance squats (plie) 20 reps
- Alternate side lunges 30 reps (15 per leg)
Alternate reverse lunges 40 reps (20 per leg)
- Single leg reverse step-downs 40 reps
- Machine hamstring curl 20 reps
- Deadlift 15 reps
- Hyperextension 20 reps.
And the last thing: always remember to stretch! After each workout. This will not only contribute to faster muscle recovery and improve muscle elasticity which is good for your exercise technique, but will also make them look more beautiful and well-shaped.