Love Your Legs: How to Get the Muscle Tone of Champions

If you look at any top female athlete, do you expect to see skinny legs? Of course not. What you’ll find is beautifully defined muscles from hip to toe – and there’s nothing wrong with that! Women tend to see toned, thicker legs as a bad thing – thanks, in part, to phrases such as “thunder thighs” – but why let a silly phrase like that impact your fitness or wellbeing? We should be celebrating our muscles, and sculpting them to compete or workout at a higher athletic level. You may worry that growing your legs can affect your weight wellness, but you don’t need to add on weight or fat. Rather, you need to challenge your muscles and get proper nutrition to have the thighs of glory you deserve.


‘If you want to grow your legs, you need a weight lifting plan,’ says wellness writer Danielle Restuccia. ‘If you are lifting light weights and doing endless repetitions, you will get a lean look but not a toned, muscular one. In fact, by lifting just a few pounds of weights, you will decrease size! This is how you know if you are lifting heavy enough to grow your legs: If you can complete your number of desired repetitions (say 12) easily and could continue with a few more, then you are not lifting heavy enough. You should be able to lift comfortably for the first few reps, and complete the last two reps of your set with difficulty. Your muscle should be fatigued enough to continue further than the 12th repetition.’


If you’re up for the challenge, try the Love Your Legs workout. You need to do two to three sets of 15 to 20 reps of each exercise:


1. Split squat: Restuccia instructs, ‘Place your left foot on a chair positioned behind you, hands on hips. Squat until your right knee reaches 90 degrees. Switch legs. Add dumbbells for more challenge.’


2. Sissy squat: ‘Using a chair for stability, stand with feet hip-width apart and rise onto your toes,’ Restuccia advises. ‘Simultaneously bend your knees and lean your torso back until your knees reach 90 degrees. Maintain a straight line between knees and shoulders.’


3. Pistol squat: Restuccia directs, ‘With feet hip-width apart, lift your right foot a few inches off the ground, toes pointed up. Squat until your left knee reaches 90 degrees, keeping your right heel off the ground.’


4. Goblet squat: ‘Stand with feet farther than shoulder-width apart, turning your toes out,’ Restuccia outlines. ‘With your hands, hold a dumbbell near your chest (like a goblet), keeping elbows out to the sides. Squat until your knees reach 90 degrees. Jump slightly as you rise.’


5. Three-way lunge: Restuccia details, ‘Place feet hip-width apart and hold your hands together in front of your chest. Do three lunges, each with your knee reaching 90 degrees: one toward the front, one toward the side, and one to the back.’


6. Good Morning: ‘Put feet shoulder-width apart and hold the ends of a dumbbell with your hands,’ Restuccia suggests. ‘Place the weight under your chin. Slowly bend forward from the waist to 90 degrees, keeping your legs straight and pressing your butt back backward.’


7. Single-leg dead lift: ‘Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand,’ says Restuccia. ‘Bend at the hip, extending your right leg behind you and keeping your abs tight. Hinge forward until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.’


8. Bridges: Restuccia notes, ‘Lie on the floor and place a small towel under your heels. With arms by your sides, lift your hips off the floor, pressing your heels into the ground and forming a straight line from knees to shoulders.’


9. Calf raise three ways: ‘Stand on a box or stair, letting your heels hang back over the edge,’ Restuccia comments, ‘Then turn your toes inward and lift your heels. When you’ve done two to three sets of that, repeat the exercise with toes turned outward and then with them pointed straight.’

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