Beautiful Legs in 12 Easy Moves Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my leg/butt workout.  If you missed Part 1, please read it first.  Adapt each exercise to your skill level and use an appropriate weight load.   I have modified this workout for personal training clients of all different levels.

As I said when I introduced Part 1, the workout consists of twelve exercises that I do on two nonconsecutive days.  Since some of the exercises are harder compound moves (using two or more joints at the same time), I put a few easy moves and a few compound moves into each workout so I can evenly divide the workload.

I do 5 to 8 sets of each exercise, and I do more sets for my weaker areas in an attempt to balance out my legs, both in terms of strength and aesthetic appeal.  Look in a mirror (from all angles) and determine what parts of your lower body need extra work.  Normally, we enjoy doing what comes easily to us and we avoid what is difficult. Assess your weak areas and focus on them.  You are only as strong as your weakest link.  Here are the final six exercises:

7.  HIP ADDUCTION: This exercise works the adductors of the hips, which are all the inner thigh muscles. Using the hip adductor machine, start in a position with your legs as wide as you can and extend your legs so they are straight with your feet in the air (even if the machine is designed to be used with bent knees.)  When you extend your legs, much of the work begins before you do the actual hip adduction, as you must hold your legs up against the pads.  Squeeze your legs together and hold them tightly contracted for a few seconds. Then, slowly let your legs separate to work the eccentric (negative) phase of the contraction.  As you work, use your abdominal muscles to your advantage by tightly contracting them as you press your legs together.  Exhale as you contract. TIP: When I am trying to graduate to a higher weight, I assist myself by pressing on my upper thighs with my own hands as my hips adduct (my legs move toward the center).  In this sense, I am acting as my own spotter.  It is no different than using a spotter for assistance with a chest press or a chin up.

8.  HIP ABDUCTION: The gluteus medius muscle is the primary muscle (major abductor) responsible for hip abduction, with the gluteus minimus assisting. This exercise is executed similarly to hip adduction, but the legs are pressing away from each other rather than toward each other.  Position your body on the machine with your legs straight (even if the machine is designed to be used with a bent knee) and press against the pads, moving your legs apart from each other.  Pause for a few seconds when your legs are in their widest position to fully engage your muscles.  Slowly release your legs and return them to the center position.  TIP: If you wish to manually assist yourself, place your hands on the inside of your knees and slightly press on your legs as they move apart.  Always keep your back straight and upright.  This goes for hip adduction, too.

9.  STRAIGHT LEG CALF RAISE: This exercise works the upper muscle of the calf called the gastrocnemius.  For some, the calves are the bane of your existence.  No matter what you do, you always seem to have little chicken legs.  While genetics definitely plays a huge role in how we develop, do not fall into the trap of feeling as if you will never get anywhere no matter how hard you try.  Keep your load as heavy as you can handle, and execute each rep slowly and deliberately.  I watch so many well-intended people botch up this exercise by racing through their calf training as though it is less important than squats and leg presses.  If this is a weak point for you, do more sets than you do for other body parts, and slow down to make your muscles contract fully.  TIP: Be sure to go through the full range of motion, dropping your heels all the way down until you feel a good stretch and then pressing up on the toes until you feel your calves almost cramp.  Hold the contraction and repeat.  As with other exercises, do not terminate the set until you can no longer continue.

10.  DORSAL FLEXION: The anterior tibialis is a muscle that runs along the shinbone and is a primary muscle used in dorsiflexion of the ankle (pulling your toes up and flexing the foot).   If you are lucky, your gym has a special machine to work the anterior tibialis.  Using this machine, you place your toes under the pad and pull your toes up toward your shins: this is dorsiflexion.  If your gym does not have a special gadget for the anterior tibialis, you can use the calf raise machine to get the job done.  Instead of pressing up on the toes, begin positioned on your heels and bring your toes up toward your knees against the resistance.  If you are not used to doing this exercise, you will tire easily and almost feel as though you are cramping.  Execute this move slowly and hold for a few seconds when your toes are fully raised and your anterior tibialis is fully engaged.  TIP: Do not neglect this muscle thinking no one will notice.  If you are going to work the back of your lower leg, you must also work the front of your lower leg to have balance in the body.  I do more sets for the anterior tibialis than I do for the calves, as the calves naturally get more work through general movement and are often stronger, relatively speaking.

11.   SEATED CALF RAISE: The soleus, the deeper of the two calf muscles, is worked by doing bent knee calf raises.  In a seated position, slowly raise and lower your heels.  Seated calf raises are just as important as straight leg calf raises and should not be omitted from your training.  I once trained a man who complained about less than desirable calf development. When I discussed his program with him, I realized that he NEVER did seated calf raises.  You cannot ignore details and expect to have killer legs. TIP: As with the straight leg calf raise, avoid the temptation to load too much weight on the machine and haphazardly bounce your legs up and down.  You will be wasting your time and increasing your chances of suffering an injury to your Achilles tendon.

12.  (Single leg) KNEE EXTENSION: I do knee extension one leg at a time and only in a very limited range of motion.  Of the quadriceps group, the vastus medialis is the most active muscle throughout the greatest range of knee extension.  However, the vastus medialis obliquus, or VMO, is thought to be very important in preventing lateral dislocation of the patella (kneecap).  This is a portion of the vastus medialis with an oblique attachment of its muscle fibers to the patella.  The VMO is not emphasized until the last 10 to 20 degrees of knee extension.  Since I do knee extensions to stabilize my patella, I only do the last 20 degrees or so of the extension.  When I have done full knee extensions in the past, I have felt stress on my kneecaps that made me rethink what I was doing and make the modification.  If you are comfortable doing full knee extensions, do so.  However, to be safe, I would use a 90-degree bend in the knee as a starting position rather than bending the knee more than that and stressing the joint at the beginning of each extension.  TIP: Whichever starting position you choose hold the fully extended leg and contract the muscles as hard as you can.  I generally do not lower my leg until it begins to shake from fatigue.

There you have it….my leg workout.  Here is an idea of how you can evenly divide the exercises to balance working larger muscles with smaller muscles on two, nonconsecutive days:

DAY 1:

1. Squats

2. Straight Leg Calf Raise

3. Lunges

4. Seated Calf Raise

5. Hip Abduction

6. Back Extension

DAY 2:

7. (Single leg) Leg Press

8. Ankle Dorsal Flexion

9. (Single leg) Hip Extension

10. Hip Adduction

11. (Single leg) Hamstring Curls

12.  (Single leg) Knee Extension (VMO)

Good luck and enjoy!

Live with Simplicity,