If you’re anything like most women, you probably neglect strength training your legs. Many women do cardio daily but find that it’s not enough to get the toned look they’re going for. Why isn’t cardio the key? While cardio exercise utilizes the leg and glute muscles, it doesn’t do much to build them. So, all of the cardio in the world may not make much of a visible difference in the shape of our gams.
Some women neglect strength training their legs simply because at first, it hurts! A hefty leg workout might make us sore for several days if we’re not in shape. And this pain might keep us off the treadmill for a few days. So, we never end up strength training our lower half.
If this sounds like you, you’re missing out! Strength training the legs has a lot of important benefits for your health, your fitness level and your waistline! Here are 5 reasons not to neglect your legs.
1. Burn More Calories and Fat!
Your leg muscles are among the largest muscles in your body and are the ones we use most frequently throughout the day. Strong muscles burn more calories and fat even when you are at rest – so think of these mammoth muscles as fat burning furnaces. They’ll keep the fire burning even while you’re sitting at your desk or while you’re asleep. You’ll burn more calories each hour just by having strong leg muscles than if you didn’t train them at all. How does this all work? Muscle mass boosts your metabolism. While genetics do play a part, you can make huge changes in your metabolism with diet and exercise as well. When they’re exercised, large muscle groups like the legs release large amounts of growth hormones which in turn help increase power, endurance and size in all of our major muscle groups including core and upper body.
If you’ve been neglecting your leg strength training, it’s also a great way to break through a weight loss plateau. Challenge these major muscles and push yourself to your max and you’ll begin to see results.
Continuing to include leg training in your ongoing exercise plan will help keep your metabolism revved up and help you maintain a healthy weight. When your body is burning calories efficiently, you can eat more without gaining weight.
2. SEE Results Quickly
Legs are one of the areas that women can see fastest results. Since the legs are such a large muscle group, you can begin to notice increased tone very quickly, often within a few weeks. Many women fear that strength training will cause us to “bulk up.” Will our legs actually get BIGGER if we train them? The truth is that most women don’t have high enough testosterone levels to build big bulky muscles. If you are also trying to lose some weight, you may notice a slight size increase at first when adding leg strength training exercises. This is due to the layer of fat that remains on top of your growing muscles. Keep up with your exercise and diet plan – soon this fat will disappear leaving only the sculpted toned muscle behind! You’ll find your legs and butt look much better in your skinny jeans with a little bit of muscle tone!
3. Helps combat cellulite on thighs and glutes.
Strength training your legs helps beat cellulite in two ways. One of the main causes of cellulite is poor circulation, which reduces essential nutrients to the area. The decrease in nutrients weakens the skin’s connective tissue, which is what causes that dreaded dimpled look. Exercise in general, and particularly weight training, gets the heart pumping to circulate blood and nutrients through our bodies, thereby nourishing our connective tissues. Really, cellulite is just deposits of fat right below your skin. Another way strength training can improve the appearance of cellulite is by increasing the tone and volume of the muscle below that fat layer, while at the same time burning away at that same subcutaneous flab.
4. Full Body Benefits
Many leg exercises are power moves that engage the core and other muscles in the body, as well as improve balance and stability.
In addition to working the quadriceps and hamstrings, leg squats also engage the gluteus maximus and the adductors (the inner thigh muscles) as well as the muscles of the calves. Squats also cause you to engage your abdominal and oblique muscles to help you stabilize your core. Performed with shoulders back and arms forward, you’re also working your trapezius muscles (under your armpits) and your erector spine. For proper squat form, variations and advice for protecting the knees when performing a squat, see this article.
Leg lunges also work several muscle groups at once including abs, butt, hips and thighs. The lunge also has the benefit of being a single leg exercise – it can help eliminate imbalances if one leg is stronger than the other. For proper form and variations, see this article.
5. FEEL Results Quickly
Within a few weeks of beginning a leg strength training program, you’ll start to notice a huge difference in your leg strength for both everyday activities such as climbing stairs, lifting heavy items and even walking. You’ll also notice huge differences in your muscle endurance for other physical activities you enjoy including running, biking, or cardio at the gym.
So what’s the best way to get started training your legs or giving your leg routine a boost? Give Athlean-XX for Women a try. Each day you’ll work a different muscle group of your body – there’s one day for legs and another day for glutes. On leg and glute days you’ll get to try out different exercises to challenge those muscle groups. You’ll start to SEE and FEEL the results fast!