Most women will nod their heads in quiet agreement when one mentions that it’s easy for them to gain weight on the thighs, hips and butt. Men generally do not put on fat in these areas because they store their excess fat on the bellies.
The hard truth is that losing weight will mean cleaning up your diet and being on a caloric deficit. This is the cornerstone of all weight loss.
You’ll then need to incorporate two or three cardio sessions a week to boost your metabolism. This will get your fat burning cylinders firing away and you’ll be burning calories round the clock.
All this is well and good because the fat will be melting off slowly and surely. However, even if you manage to reduce your fat, you may not necessarily have a toned butt or legs. The reason for this is that you need weight training to work the muscles in these areas and tone them up.
Cardio can only do so much. If you want a butt that is firm and perky, you need to do squats. If you want sexy calves, you need to do calf raises. All these are strength training exercises.
Now that we’ve established that weight training is crucial for toning your lower body, let’s look at what muscles make up your lower body. Take note that when the term ‘weight training’ is used, you don’t necessarily need weights if you don’t have a gym membership.
Bodyweight training is considered a form of weight training too. Your body being the weight that provides the resistance you need. So, you can always search online for bodyweight exercises to tone your lower body if you don’t want to work with barbells and dumbbells.
The lower body comprises of several different muscles:
- The gluteal muscles which is your buttocks. It is divided in 3 groups – the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
- The hamstrings which are made up of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. These different muscles shape the posterior region of your thighs.
- The adductors – these are the muscles that create power in your legs and stabilize the thigh bone.
- The quadriceps are some of the most visible muscles in the leg. These are muscles in the front of your thighs and are made up of the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis.
- The hip flexors are responsible for the hip flexion movement and work together with the iliacus.
- Your lower leg muscles are your calves, your shin muscles, the soleus, etc.
These different muscle groups are just to give you an idea of all the different types of muscles that make up your legs. To get your legs toned, you’ll need to incorporate several different lower body exercises in your workouts.
The sheer size and number of muscles in your legs will explain why lower body training is often much more exhausting than upper body training. More muscles are recruited, more energy is expended and more effort is required. It also means more calories are burned and the workouts are much more effective.
Below you’ll find a list of lower body exercises. Add these to your workouts and you’ll definitely strengthen and tone your lower body. Do note that you should mix up these exercises in different workouts and combine them with upper body exercises too. This will make your weight training well-rounded and there’ll be variety in your workouts.
- Barbell/ dumbbell front squats
- Single leg squats
- Calf raises
- Lunges – Front/ Reverse/ Side/ Walking lunge
- Bulgarian split squats
- Jumping squats
- Seated hamstring curls
- Seated leg press
- Seated leg extensions
- Band hip adductions
- Butt lift (Bridge)
- Glute kickbacks
The exercises above are varied enough to give your lower body a solid workout and tone just about all your leg and hip muscles. If you don’t know how to perform any of these exercises, you can always look them up on YouTube for a demonstration.
Do your weight training workouts consistently and always seek to improve on your personal best for the different exercises. Keep a training journal so that you can track your progress. Working your lower body is a surefire way to boost your weight loss and get fit. Watch your calories, eat healthy and in a matter of time you’ll have lean, toned and beautiful legs that will turn heads.