Set your mind on the one successful, tried, and true method of toning your muscles and getting the tight body you’ve always desired.
Starting working towards the best legs you’ve ever had, and start loving what you see in the mirror. It takes one simple change: Start lifting weights.
Why you’re sagging and in need of weightlifting
When you want to shape and tone a body part, it’s not just flesh. The only part of your body that you can mold and change are the muscles. The more you work a muscle, the more it adapts, creating newer and stronger fibers. It is the muscle that creates tone (a firm surface), and when you see definition (shape) you’re seeing the natural contours of muscle below the skin.
People who never work out have little or no muscle tone, and poking an arm, stomach or leg will usually feel squishy. When sitting in a chair, how wide does the skin on your thigh spread out? The more it spreads, the less muscle tone you have. This is how tone is defined, and when your tone improves, so too does the general shape of the muscle.
Reaching for your 3lb and 5lb weights?
Hold it right there!
Doing a few dozen repetitions of your favorite exercises with 3 and 5 lb weights never worked before, so why would it now? Stop telling yourself you are too weak, and start to tell yourself that you are strong, and you can do it! You need to lift heavy weights to get real and lasting results.
A fitness trainer’s recurring nightmare is having to reassure women that lifting weights will not cause them to bulk up with muscle. Whatever you did before hasn’t worked, so why not follow the science of it, and lift weights to tone, lose fat, and shape up??
Women are not able to bulk up, regardless of their “natural predisposition” towards getting “big shoulders”. The truth (as seen over and again in scientific studies) is that the female body is physically unable to increase muscle mass as a result of different hormone levels. This can be overcome by using supplements that counteract or alter natural levels of testosterone and estrogen. Unless you are looking to get into bodybuilding, don’t expect to look like a bodybuilder!
Lifting heavy weights is what our favorite athletes and superstars do. There are specific exercises you can do to lift, tone and shape your butt and thighs, but you’ll have to find more challenging weights to really see or feel any changes.
Exercises for a better butt and thighs
The lower limbs best respond to heavy, dynamic movements. Forget leg curls and presses. Grab a barbell and start with the most effective exercises that athletes use to get maximum results. (**Do not forget to maintain good posture and use proper form throughout… while engaging the abdominals in your movement to support the lower back and allow the breath to flow smoothly so as not to cause stress on the system.)
(If you are a novice, always consult with your physician before you start any exercise program)
This is one of the best exercises to work the posterior chain. That means the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, glutes, and lower back. The core is heavily engaged in this exercise as well.
In a deadlift, the objective is to lift a bar from the floor to the waist height. You’ll have to grab the bar with both hands at shoulder height, keeping the knees bent. Be sure your back is as straight and tight as possible (no hunching at the shoulders) while you bend at the hips and knees.
You’ll be starting from the floor position (bent over) and pulling until you are completely standing up. Start to pull with your legs, while pulling the abdominals in as you exhale up, and finish the movement by extending your back to the neutral position.
Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of deadlifts, using a weight that you can really feel working your legs! Most untrained women can handle 45 to 65 lbs without a problem.
There are many variations when it comes to squatting. The technique is important to avoid injury and get great results. Squatting works the core, quads, hamstrings (full thigh), glutes, and low back. It is one of the ultimate all-around exercises. A program without squats is not likely to garner great results.
The main thing to keep in mind when squatting is to get as low as possible, as though you are sitting on a low chair. (Note**I would not recommend when performing a squatting exercise to let your butt go below your knees, as this can put a lot of unnecessary stress on the knee joint and cause knee pain) Start without any weight at all to get accustomed to the technique. Keep your heels on the floor and your back rigid and in a neutral position at all times, point your toes slightly outward, and as you squat, track your knees over your feet and as you exhale up, pull your abdominals in to support the lower back.
Adding weight to a squat is usually in the form of a barbell on the back of the neck. You can also try front squats, squats with dumbbells, or kettlebell squats. Whichever you decide to go with, be sure you really feel the burn! Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. Your legs will start feeling like jell-o already!
Note**These are not recommended if you have back problems and or.. if done incorrectly without proper form..this exercise could cause back problems.
Roman deadlifts are also known as Straight-leg deadlifts. These are tougher, and focus even more on the hamstrings in the thighs.
Start with a barbell in front of you, and rather than bending down from the knees to pick it up, bend as far as possible from the hips. Be sure you keep your back straight in its neutral position and rigid. Check yourself out in a mirror (side view) to be sure you’ve got it right. Depending on your flexibility, you may notice your back rounding out as you descend. Avoid this by pulling your shoulder blades together, exhaling, pull your abdominals in to support the lower back as you return to the upright position.
Note that your knees should never be locked out always keep the joint in your control (slightly bent) to avoid injury. As you descend feel a slight pull at the back of the leg to be sure you are doing it correctly. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions; most untrained women are able to start with 25 to 35 lbs for a Straight-leg deadlift.
Lunges are one of the more common thigh and butt exercises, and many women find themselves doing sets of 10 and 15 without serious results. This is because the muscles are not being challenged enough. Again, lifting heavier weights is necessary.
To lunge, take one large step forward and bring your back knee down to the floor. There are a few ways you can do lunges, but the best way to work the butt and get a greater degree of difficulty is to step back to a standing position to complete the repetition.
Start with the right foot: take a large step forward, drop your left knee to the floor, then push off the right leg to bring your foot to the start. Next, step forward with the left foot, dropping your right knee to the floor. Return to the start position and repeat. Be sure to descend with the rear knee, and not forwards. For example, when stepping with the right leg, be sure that the right knee does not track forwards over the foot. (always engage the abdominals in your movement to support the lower back and allow the breath to flow smoothly…as not to cause stress on the system.)
You can grab a dumbbell in each hand to add weight. Start with 10lbs each, and work your way up. Alternatively, you can place a barbell behind your neck (as seen with squatting). If lunging gets easy, add more weight!
Perform 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 lunges (5 or 6 on each side).
Rear-foot Elevated Split Squat
This complex name refers to a really simple and rarely seen exercise. It is used by athletes and prescribed by very knowledgeable trainers for clients who want to go the distance. It is also used as a method in rehabilitation because it corrects imbalances between the right and left sides.
RFES squats engage one leg at a time, strengthening one while helping to stretch out tight muscles on the other. It also uses the same principle as with lunges but adds a challenging twist.
Start with a bench behind you and place your right foot on it. Relax your right leg, and find a comfortable and stable spot for your left foot; it should be about 2.5 to 4 feet from the bench. Do a lunge on the spot by dropping your right knee toward the floor. You may feel a stretch in the right thigh as you descend. Push yourself back up using your left leg. (Engage the abdominals in your movement to support the lower back and allow the breath to flow smoothly, not to cause any undue stress on the system.) Complete all reps before switching legs.
Perform 2 to 3 sets to start, and when your balance and strength improve, increase the sets. Start with 5 to 10 reps on each side. You can gradually add weight, and you’ll really feel the burn! Use dumbbells in each hand, or try it with a light barbell on the back of your neck.
If you’ve ever longed to have firm, tight muscles that you can be proud of, get off the stair climber, stationary bike, and elliptical. Hours of endless cardio won’t get you half as far as 30 minutes of weight training will. (or a combination of weight training and cardio exercises can get you faster results) Use good technique and start to see yourself as you truly want to be! (**Do not forget to maintain good posture and use proper form throughout… while engaging the abdominals in your movement to support the lower back and allow the breath to flow smoothly as not to cause stress on the system.)