Train your legs to lift your butt and tone your thighs

Most of you going to the gym are going because you want to lose a little bit of weight and to tone up, especially those problem areas such as the bum and thighs. However, very few of you will know how to train the legs effectively to lift and tone these areas. Training the legs is as art and a science and I’m going to lift the lid on some of the secrets that the fitness models use to have the perfectly tone thighs and round pert butt.

When you are training your legs you need a periodised and progressive plan targeting different muscles of the legs such as the glutes, the quads, the hamstring and the calfs. Your first stage of leg training should focus on unilateral exercises to correct any imbalances in tone and shape between the legs. This is perfect if you have one butt cheek that is slightly less pert than the other, or if the cut of the hamstrings isn’t quite right between sides. Start by focussing on one exercise for the quads and one for the hamstrings, like so:

A1. Dumbbell step up on 30cm box, 3 sets of 15-20 reps, tempo 1010, rest 60 seconds.
A2. Seated hamstring curl, 3 sets of 8-10 reps, tempo 40X0, rest 60 seconds.

Perform 3 sets each of these exercises. For the quads focus on higher reps as the quads can tolerate the burn that you will feel when you perform this exercise. This burn is the build up of lactate that helps you burn fat. The tempo just means the speed of the movement – step up for 1 seconds, and lower yourself to the floor for 1 second. The step up helps to firm and tone the small muscle on the inside of the knee cap. Perform all the prescribed number of reps on one leg before switching legs. You then rest 60 seconds before moving on to the hamstring exercise.

For the hamstring though, lower reps are needed as the make up of the hamstring is suited to more explosive contractions that helps firm and shape them. For this exercise you bend your knees under you as quickly as possible but you straighten your knees back to the start position over 4 seconds. This helps create muscle tension and definition. Perform all the reps and sets for A1 and A2, then move on to the B exercises.

Next you want to perform an exercise to focuses on developing tone throughout the entire quad, whilst performing an exercise that develops the glutes and hamstring together. You might chose the following exercises:

B1. Dumbbell split squat 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.
B2. Romanian dead lift with bar 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.

The split squat is a movement where you stand in a lunge position and bend your front knee as far forward over your toes whilst keeping good technique. Bending your knee into the deep position fully activates the quads and also helps to firm up the glutes and groin on the lead leg, to help lift the butt and slim the inner thigh. Perform 10-12 twelve reps on one leg, before switching to the other leg. The tempo means that you slowly bend your knee in to the deep position over 3 seconds and then push yourself up in 1 second. Rest 60 seconds then go to the next exercise.

The Romanian dead lift helps to firm the butt and strengthen the low back and hamstrings. Stand with your feet just wider than your shoulders holing a 10-20kg bar. Keep your knees very slightly bent and then bend from the hips, sticking your bum out behind you whilst running the bar down your thighs to about knee level. At this point you should feel a strong stretch in your hamstring. This movement should take 3 seconds and be sure to keep your back straight. Then straighten up your hips to the start position in 1 second. Perform 10-12 reps of this after which you rest 60 seconds.

Your final pair of exercises can target the calfs and abs to help give your legs that slender look when you are in heels and to flatten your tummy. These exercises could include:

C1. Single leg calf raise 3 sets of 12-15 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.
C2. Abs crunch 3 sets of 12 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.

For the calf raise use a step block, standing on it with the ball of your foot. Hold a dumbbell in the same hand as the leg your are training and tuck the other foot in behind your Achilles tendon. Let you heel drop below the level of your toes so you feel a strong stretch in your calf, this should take 2 seconds. Then lift yourself right up on to your toes, this should take 1 second. Perform 12-15 reps, swap sides and rest 60 seconds before moving on to your abs.

To firm up your tummy perform 12 crunches lying on the floor. You should perform this programme twice a week such as on a Monday and Thursday for up to 6 workouts (3 weeks) after that time you need to change your exercises, reps, sets and rest periods to continually firm and sculpt your legs.

Programme

A1. Dumbbell step up on 30cm box, 3 sets of 15-20 reps, tempo 1010, rest 60 seconds.
A2. Seated hamstring curl, 3 sets of 8-10 reps, tempo 40X0, rest 60 seconds.
B1. Dumbbell split squat 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.
B2. Romanian dead lift with bar 3 sets of 10-12 reps, tempo 3010, rest 60 seconds.
C1. Single leg calf raise 3 sets of 12-15 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.
C2. Abs crunch 3 sets of 12 reps, tempo 2010, rest 60 seconds.

Next it’s time to move on to some squats…

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