Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Killer Leg Workouts

Update: This was supposed to post last night...pretend like you're reading this yesterday!

That's right! Just 30 more days until Spring! According to the Farmer's Almanac we are due for more snow the end of this month. As depressing as that sounds, I wish it would just hurry up and do it already! Let's get this last bit of snow over with and bring on the warm weather! The phrase that summer bodies are made in winter could not be more true. Every summer I see people whine and complain that they don't like how they look in their bathing suit. I am also guilty as charged. Let's take this 30 day countdown as motivation to change that! No one else is going to do it for you. If you don't like how you look, then change it. Simple. Well, the concept is simple....putting in the work is hard. But anything worthwhile is hard.  In celebration of spring starting in 30 days, I'm posting my killer leg workout today. Not only will these exercises help you sculpt some sexy Carrie Underwood legs (or so I hope), but you'll be getting in some great cardio at the same time. Keeping that heart rate up and giving your all for an hour or hour and a half will give you some big results. We all have sat on Facebook, Pinterest or Netflix for well over an hour. Why not devote that same amount of time to your body?

Some of these exercises you may be uncomfortable with at first. Trying out a new exercise always feels a little weird to me. Don't let it discourage you. Once you get the motion down, you'll love it. Also, if you have never squatted before I recommend asking a personal trainer for help. Proper form in all exercises is crucial to not only preventing injury, but making sure you are getting the MOST from each movement. It's also important to not be concerned with weight. Until your form is better and you feel comfortable doing a squat (or any other movement) you should keep the weight light. Don't be the person who throws a bunch of weight on a bar and has the ugliest form in the world....no one likes that guy. My goal used to be to squat as much as I could and try to gradually get it to go up. It's a fun goal to have, but now it's not my primary goal. I want to work my butt off and I want the results to show when I look in the mirror. For me right now I need to see the fruits of my labors. Great form is also something that will not happen overnight. My squat is something that I take a lot of pride in. When I first started, the bar on my back felt horrible and it always felt like I was going to fall over. Now I love it.

Here is a video of some squatting I did today. I've felt out of it for two days so ignore the shaky knees...

With each movement you'll should feel one muscle group being used more than the others. For instance, with the Smith Machine squats you should feel it more in your butt and right below your butt. When your glutes start getting tired you'll feel your quads start trying to take some of the work. If I feel this starting to happen every rep, I will drop the weight down to be able to focus solely on the glutes again. Being able to focus solely on one muscle group comes with practice over time. This ties back to the idea of not being concerned with how much weight you're lifting. I used to think I wasn't doing anything unless I was lifting X amount of weight. Now I have no problem dropping the weight and getting a good squeeze with each rep...focusing on form and making sure I'm using the muscles I'm supposed to be using. 

Here are some exercises that I do on leg day. For whatever reason I start in the squat rack. Getting those big movements done first has always been how I do it. I always start off with an empty bar to get my body prepared for the movement. I work up to 115 or 135 depending on how I'm feeling that day. I'll do 5 sets of 5-10 reps. Then I move into the Smith Machine and pretty much take that thing over for about 20-30 minutes. I do 4 exercises there and the goal is to do them as close together as possible with little to no rest. Again, keeping that heart rate up is important! I do 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps for each movement (10-12 reps for each leg on the lunges).

I do all of this every leg day. There are some other exercises that I do as well, but they vary. I will post more great leg exercises later! I hope you guys enjoy these. DO NOT be afraid to try something new in the gym! Everyone in there was new at some point.