Do you want to develop great legs and a delightful derriere sure to please you and your significant other? Over the years, I have developed the perfect combination of moves to develop my legs and butt, and the best part is that ANYONE can do it. All you have to do is adapt each exercise to your skill level and use an appropriate weight load. This workout is one that I have modified to work with personal training clients of all different levels.
My lower body 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 like to put a few easy moves and a few compound moves into each workout so I can evenly divide the workload!
Generally, 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. Take a good look in the mirror from all angles and determine what parts of your lower body need extra work. This was a humbling experience for me, but acknowledging our weaknesses as wells as our strengths is part of the game. Always play to win. Always train your weakest link.
This week I will give you half of my leg routine, and stay tuned next time for Part 2!
1. BARBELL SQUATS: Depending on your fitness level, choose a barbell with which you can successfully complete 6 to 10 repetitions max. I generally like to select a weight with which I can do no more than eight reps. When I can do more than eight I increase the load. I never squat lower than a 90-degree angle at the knee because I can blow out my knees when I do so. At my age, I tend to be careful and not get too crazy. TIP: Squat slowly, and when you are in your full squat, pause for about 5 seconds, and push through the heels of your feet as you press up to a standing position. Always keep your weight in your hind foot for a squat.
In all my years working in the fitness industry, I have noted patterns of behavior that many of us share. Unfortunately, most of the behavioral patterns that I see are destructive and hold us back from getting what we really want. This is a shame, as I do believe that people begin a new fitness and eating plan with good intentions. Here is but one of the many negative thought patterns that I have observed over the years and have fallen prey to, myself: Thinking of yourself as GOOD or BAD!
If you believe that you are good when you stick to your plan and bad when you take a detour or have a minor setback, you are going to turn a LAPSE into a RELAPSE and finally, suffer a total COLLAPSE!
Let’s say you fall off the wagon. First, you tell yourself you are bad; yes, you are a bad person because you ate the left over pizza in the fridge. Labeling yourself as “bad” will make you feel like a failure. You are not good at anything, and Mother was right: you will never marry, have seven cats and die alone. You think, “What’s the use of even trying?”
Now you feel like you have “blown it,” and since you are a bad person AND a failure and have blown it, why not just totally blow it?
Finally, you spiral into state of worthlessness because you are bad, you are a failure, you have “blown it,” and you have wasted one more day of your life that you’ll never get back.
Sound familiar? I have been stuck here, circling the drain, myself.
If you don’t know what you really want, how in the world are you going to get it? You need to set goals in such a way that you know exactly what you are working to achieve, you can measure your progress along the way, and the goals must be realistic, considering who you are and the life you lead. Here are some tips to get you started setting effective goals that will get you where you want to go.
Set specific goals: Rather than say, “I want to get in shape,” specify or detail exactly what you want. A more specific way of setting goals is to say, “I want to reduce my waist measurement by 3 inches and increase my strength and flexibility.”
Set measurable goals: How will you measure your progress? Rather than say, “I want to walk more and get in better cardiovascular condition,” say, “I want to walk two miles every day at a rate of 15 minutes per mile.” The progress of this goal can be easily measured, as the goal itself is worded in such a way that you can track your progress.
Set attainable goals: The kiss of death for most people is biting off more than they can chew. You have to set a goal that will challenge you, but not defeat you. Be realistic about who you are, the constraints on your life, and what you are willing to do (or not.)
I recently discussed the importance of body composition and how it matters not so much what you weigh, but rather how much of that weight is fat vs. muscle mass. For more information, check out this blog post: The Significance of Body Composition.
Now that we have reviewed the importance of knowing how much fat you carry relative to muscle, let’s discuss the importance of determining where that fat is.
An easy and effective way to measure what is really going on in your body is by calculating your Waist to Hip Ratio. All you need is a tape measure, which is portable, inexpensive, and will help you overcome Scalitis, that nasty disease that keeps you tied to your bathroom scale as a determinant of your self-worth!!
Have you ever started a new diet and exercise program that fizzles fast because you just can’t take it anymore? You need to get real!
First, do what works for you. This is your program, and it must accommodate you—your skill level, and activities that you know you will do. If you try to follow the same fitness plan as your single gal-pal at work, it may not fit into your life if you are a working wife and mom with three rug rats! Examine your life, what you like to do, and your limitations. Customize your fitness plan to meet your needs and it will take less effort to maintain it.
Next, create a plan that you can live with forever: no shortcuts here—your plan is your new lifestyle, and you must create one that you have time to incorporate into your schedule. Taking extreme measures will do nothing for you in the long run. It’s better to make and sustain small changes than to do anything too extreme for a short while. If you get overwhelmed or frustrated when thinking about “forever,” think only about today. Tomorrow will come and you will handle it when it gets here.
I have a client who is obsessed with what he weighs, so much so that his mood du jour is determined by whether the number on his scale goes up or down. This is no way to live, nor is it an accurate report of the health of your body, i.e., how much of your body is fat vs. how much of your body is muscle mass.
Excess body fat is undesirable for more reasons than simple aesthetics. Fat is a storage site for carcinogens, and the more fat you carry above a healthy range, the more you risk hormonal imbalances which set you up for many diseases including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, or cancer of the breast, cervix, colon, esophagus, ovaries, and prostate, to name a few.
A recent study by the American Cancer Society found that approximately 90,000 cancer deaths every year are due to excess body fat. I advise my clients to worry less about what they weigh and concern themselves more with what comprises their weight. In other words, focus on body composition, or the percentage of fat relative to the percentage of muscle on your frame.
I am starting a new category on my blog for Book Reviews! I come across many fantastic books, as I interview brilliant authors for my radio show, TARA MARIE LIVE.
There is a book that is so comprehensive and so useful for teaching the fundamental principles of transforming your body, your health, and your life that I have chosen it for my first review!
Called, The Leanness Lifestyle, this “bible” of body transformation is just what you need to get on the right path and avoid the pitfalls of everyday life on your way to becoming the best version of yourself!
The author, David Greenwalt, is a professional colleague, a frequent guest on my show, and now a friend. Most importantly, he himself has totally transformed his body, his health, and his life using some very basic but key principles that he shares in the pages of this gem.
Have you ever heard an old man brag that his weight has not changed since he was twenty-something? That’s great, and as a trainer I am always thrilled to hear that people are keeping their weight in check as they age. However, as a trainer I am far less concerned about the number on the scale and far more concerned about how much of the weight is lean muscle mass and how much of it is fat mass.
Let’s consider the old man again: at 23 years old, his 175 lb. frame probably had a good bit of muscle, and his torso was the shape of an upside down triangle, with broad shoulders and a tapered waistline. Now at 83, if he has not been doing anything to maintain his muscle mass, his 175 lb. frame likely looks like a triangle, only right side up! His broad shoulders and small waist have now become narrow shoulders and a wide waist—but he still weighs 175 lbs, so he does not see the problem.
From a health perspective, however, there is a problem. As we age, both men and women will lose muscle mass and increase fat mass. Since muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it requires calories just to exist, the more muscle you have on your frame, the easier it will be to stay lean.
That added body fat also increases the odds that you will suffer from any one of a number of diseases that can be prevented, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, different cancers, and heart disease.
Have you ever wondered how to train aerobically to most efficiently lose body fat? I get a lot of questions about aerobic exercise training, and it seems that there are many misconceptions about how to train effectively, so I want to clarify some points.
Years ago, we instructors were taught to encourage our clients to stay in their “target heart rate range.” This range is also called your “target zone” or your “aerobic heart rate range.” This range simply gives you the number of times that your heart should beat per minute while exercising aerobically. The number represents about 60% to 80% of your heart’s maximum capacity. We were taught that this is the range in which we most efficiently use fat as a fuel source for exercise. Hence, the mantra, “lower intensity, longer sessions,” was drilled into aerobics instructors everywhere as the way to help clients burn body fat.
For my clients that have heart disease or any other cardiovascular complication, I encourage the use of a heart rate monitor that is worn strapped around the chest. This will provide an up to the minute, accurate reading of your heart rate. This population needs to be careful not to exceed 70% of their maximum heart rate without permission from their cardiologist.