This article is to provide a great leg day workout for women who are seeking to really tighten up that lower body. Most people, including myself, can’t stand leg day; however, in this article, I will explain the importance of these leg workouts and how you should go about conquering them.
Being a personal trainer and a professional bodybuilder, I see tons of mistakes when people come into the gym and hop on these machines. Longevity is key when it comes to working out.
Poor technique can lead to debilitating injuries. Here at 2nd Chance Fitness, we care about people’s well-being. That’s our first priority! That’s why I tell my clients to leave cross-fit alone but to each its own. I have been in the fitness industry for over a decade and I have proven results on what leg workouts give women the best results. Whatever fitness level you are at these workouts are absolutely doable. We will be discussing the following workouts in this article:
For this leg day workout, we will be doing 3 to 4 sets, 12-15 reps for each exercise. I want you to focus on form and use lightweight at first if you are not used to these movements. Most importantly have fun and get hard!
1. Sumo Squats
Sumo Squats are a great way to tone your butt and legs. Make sure your feet are wider than shoulder-width. Keep your toes externally rotated. Ensure you squeeze your abs, glutes, and thighs. When squatting down, ensure that your glutes are sticking out. Push through your heels and extend your legs. This exercise can be done with weights or without.
2. Barbell Squats
This exercise will target your glutes and hamstrings. A squat is a compound movement which means you are working multiple muscles at the same time Barbell squats are a perfect exercise if you are short on time because you are working multiple things at the same time. If you are new to doing barbell squats ensure that you have proper form.
I recommend starting with the Olympic barbell first, then gradually add on weight. The stance for performing barbell squats can be done using a neutral stance (shoulder-width apart) or you could also have a Sumo wide stance with your feet rotated outwards, or you can have a narrow stance.
Your feet do not have to be completed pointing forward, find what is comfortable to you. The position of the bar shouldn’t be too low on your back or sitting too high on your neck which could cause strain or damage. You want the bar just above your shoulder blades where it is comfortable and in place. Your hands should be secure on the bar and ensure your wrist is locked parallel with the forearm good and tight.
When performing the squat keep your chest upright, inhale and squat down. While you’re coming back up you should be exhaling. Keep your core tight at all times and remember to push backward on your hips when descending down.
When coming back up, do not hyperextend because you could cause problems with your lower back. Keep your back tight and your knees parallel to your toes. Avoid caving in your knees or having them extended outwards. You don’t have to squat all the way down, do what is comfortable for you.
3. Abductor Exercise
Abductors are great to add in for a solid leg day workout. Abductors are when you are pushing your legs away from your body and Adductors are when you are adding your legs toward your body. Abductors focus on the outer glute area.
You can use resistance bands or use the abductor machine at a gym. Put the pads as close together as you can in order to get the full range of motion. Start off with a moderate weight, try not to push yourself to hard to fast. Ensure you can control the weight and get a full range of motion. Sit forward slightly on the machine.
Open your legs up and then bring your legs back in while keeping control. Do not lose control and make a clanking noise with the machine. This will take tension off the muscle groups you are trying to focus on. Don’t text on the machine. Focus on getting great control so you can see maximum results.
4. Adductor Exercise
The adductors are a group of muscles on the inside of the thighs. Working your adductors can build hip strength and help prevent injury. To begin this workout, open the machine as wide as it can go and turn the pads outward to prepare for the adductor exercise. You may need to lower the weight because it is a little more difficult than the abductor exercise. Bring your legs in towards your body and ensure you have control of the weight.
5. Pendulum Squat
Pendulum squats are a great way to save your knees and back. Ensure your range of motion is deep. Ensure you are driving your heels into the footplate. You may need to move your feet up to make sure you are pushing with your heels.
Experiment where you need to put your feet on the footplate. Never be on your tippy-toes. I would not do this exercise first. It helps if you are warmed up before jumping on the pendulum squat machine. The pendulum squat is definitely a safer alternative than the barbell squats. Pendulum squat is ideal if you want to throw in burnout sets because your back is supported which makes the exercise more safe.
6. Vertical Leg Press
Add this exercise to your leg day and focus on building glutes and hamstrings. Not working glutes are often the reason that so many athletes injure their lower back. You can do this on a smith machine if your gym doesn’t have a vertical leg press machine. If using a smith machine, lay down a mat and start with low weight until you get the feel of the exercise.
You can use your feet to lock the smith machine bar in and out of place. Lay on the mat and put your legs on the bar shoulder-width apart. Square up with your hips slightly behind the bar. Breathe in as you bring the bar down as low as you can without bringing your butt off the ground/bench. Breathe out as you push up on the bar but try not to lock your legs out.
7. Hack Squats
Hack squats are a great lower body workout. Position your feet underneath you (lower on footplate) in order to really focus on those quads. The higher your feet are on the footplate the more hamstring and glute you’re going to work. Breathe out and squat down 90 degrees to focus on quad development. If you want the full lower body activated, go down even further. Then breathe in while your coming up and do not lock your knees.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended close to your torso. Take a long step forward to where your front knee is slightly bent. Your front foot should be flat while your rear foot is raised off the floor. Keep your back straight and your abs contracted. Now you are prepared to begin. Inhale as you lower your torso while keeping it upright until your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your other knee slightly touches the floor.
Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Tightly contract your thigh at the bottom of the movement. Hold the contraction for a moment, then exhale as your use your front leg muscles to raise your torso back to the starting position. After you finish your reps with that leg, the same amount of reps with the other leg.
If you went through this entire leg day workout then you are a champion. Leg day often gets put to the side but it is the most important workout you should incorporate in your regiment. Be sure to stretch for at least 3 minutes after each workout and drink plenty of water. If you want a more interactive leg day workout, contact us because we do offer online and virtual training. Please give us your feedback on how the workout went and anything you think we should add or remove from this leg workout.