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Exercises for Building Shapely Legs

Leg Exercises

Perform 3 sets of all exercises following these general guidelines:

  • Set 1 – Warm-up: 10 – 15 reps using light weight
  • Set 2 – Getting harder: 8 – 10 reps using moderately heavy weight
  • Set 3 – Heavy: 5 – 8 reps of a challenging weight. Do not perform to failure.
  • If your form fails during your first two sets, use a lighter weight
  • The last rep of your last set should be difficult
  • Rest approximately 1 – 2 minutes between sets

Quadriceps

Leg Extensions

  • Sit on a leg extension machine
  • Position foot pad on the top of both feet, at the ankle joint
  • Start exercise with your knees flexed at a 90 degree angle
  • Extend and straighten your legs (do not lock out your knees – this keeps the muscles under tension and will help development)
  • Pause for a count of 3
  • Lower legs to starting position

Note: Pointing your toes slightly toward each other works the inner Quads pointing your toes slightly outward works the outer Quads.

Lunge (or Walking Lunge)

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Hold a dumbbell of a comfortable weight in each hand
  • Using a long stride, step forward with your right leg
  • Keeping your upper body straight, drop your back (left) knee towards the floor (but don’t touch the floor) by bending both knees
  • Hold the tension in the front of your leg, then raise your body straight up
  • Return to starting position
  • Repeat

Smith Machine* Squat (alternate exercise for Leg Extensions)

  • Stand under a Smith Machine with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Point toes either straight ahead or slightly outward (never inward to avoid knee strain)
  • Look straight ahead
  • Weight should rest on your shoulders (not your neck)
  • Grip barbell with hands slightly wider than your shoulders
  • Plant feet firmly on the floor (don’t raise your heels), inhale and move your butt back and downward – don’t start by bending your knees
  • Don’t allow your knees to move forward
  • When your thighs reach parallel, begin exhaling and return to starting position
  • Repeat

*A Smith Machine is essentially a squat rack with built-in safeties and balances. It’s ideal if you’re working out alone, or new to training with freeweights.

Biceps Femoris (rear of leg – Hamstring region)

Lying Leg Curl

  • Lie on your stomach on an angled Leg Curl bench with your legs straight out
  • Knees should extend over the bench and be free of support
  • Back of your upper ankle should rest on the underside of the rollers
  • Inhale, hold your breath, and bring your ankles and the weight up as close as possible to your butt
  • Keep your knees and the rest of your body as still as possible
  • Contract your Hamstrings at the top of the movement pause for a slow 3 count and lower your feet back to the starting position
  • Repeat

Calves

Standing Calf Raises (works Gastrocnemius – upper calf muscles)

  • Stand with your knees locked
  • Place and hold a properly weighted barbell across the back of your shoulders (if using a Smith Machine or squat rack), or place pads on shoulders if using a Calf Raise Machine
  • Balls of your feet should be on the edge of a 4 inch high block
  • Keep toes should be pointed forward
  • Lower heels until you feel a good stretch in the calves
  • Raise your heels as high as you can
  • Keep your legs strait and your knees and hip locked
  • Hold for a slow 3 count
  • Repeat

Seated Calf Raises (works Soleus – deeper and lower calf muscles)

  • Sit either on a bench with a heavy weight plate on your lap near your knees, or on a seated calf raise machine using desired weight
  • Bend knees at a 90 degree angle
  • Balls of your feet should be on the edge of a 4 inch high block
  • Keep toes should be pointed forward
  • Lower heels until you feel a good stretch in the calves
  • Raise your heels as high as you can
  • Hold for a slow count of 3
  • Repeat

Beginners should consult with their physician prior to starting any exercise program. If you’ve never lifted weights, you may want to consult with a personal trainer for one on one instruction and to develop a personalized exercise program.

 


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