Monday, November 12, 2012

My Gym Routine: Legs

Welcome back to my little mini-series, My Gym Routine!

Today, I am letting you in on my favorite leg exercises.

Here is the schedule of posts for your reference:
Mon 11.5.12 - Glutes
Mon 11.12.12 - Legs {Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves}
Mon 11.19.12 - Shoulders
Mon 11.26.12 - Back
Mon 12.3.12 - Chest
Mon 12.10.12 - Triceps
Mon 12.17.12 - Abs

For me personally, legs {and glutes} are the areas of my body that I feel need the most consistent effort as it seems that's where the "junk" likes to strike first. I actually do my glute and leg exercises at least twice a week {with at least 48 hrs between to allow sufficient recovery}. The other body groups get one day each...and abs are done every day.

Here are some of my favorite leg exercises that I find the most effective:

Step Ups

For this exercise, I typically use a step and risers. I'm fairly tall at 5'8", so I like to use 5-6 risers on each side. I recommend a height that puts your thigh parallel to the floor when you set your foot on the bench, but some prefer a little lower, and that's OK too. To perform this exercise, step your foot onto the bench and slowly, using your thigh muscles, lift yourself up. Go back down and right back up again, concentrating on using the thigh, and not your momentum, to lift yourself. Do 12-15 times and then switch legs. Do 3 sets on each leg.

Plyometrics - Platform Hops

Find bench with a height you are comfortable with for jumping onto. To prep for the jump, squat a little, and using your leg power, jump onto the box in one swift motion. Step back down slowly and do it again. Complete 10-15 jumps, rest, and then do another set. I recommend 3 sets.

Calf Raises

Don't neglect those calves! Start in a standing position and simply lift up to your tip toes. You can also do this while standing on a bench with your heels hanging over to get a longer range of motion. I like to use a staircase or step bench. Do 20-25 reps, rest and repeat for 3 sets. You can also try single leg calf raises. Optional: Hold dumbbells at your sides.

Hip Abductor/Hip Adductor

These are great machines for your inner and outer thighs. I usually do 3 sets of 20-25 reps each. I also like to switch between machines during sets, i.e. one set of adductor, straight to one set of abductor, without rest in between to save time. It's otherwise known as a super-set.

Lying Leg Curls

There are a few different machines for leg curls, but I prefer the lying leg curl machine. I feel like I get more work done with those. For these, I complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps, making sure my last rep of each set is to failure {meaning, I can't possibly do one more - it may take a few times until you figure out what amount of weight that is for you}.

Do you have any great leg exercises to share? What are your favorites?

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