Once, a woman was told that lifting weights and training legs were strictly for men. She spent most of her life avoiding the weight room and sticking to cardio, thinking this was the only way to achieve her fitness goals. But one day, she decided to take matters into her own hands and do some research. And guess what she found out?
Not only was leg training essential for women, but it could also help build bigger and stronger legs - the kind that would make any man jealous.
She learned that training her legs could improve her strength and help her burn more calories. Building strong leg muscles could also prevent injury and improve her posture. And let's not slip about the bonus of having killer legs that would turn heads on the beach.
So, she decided to give it a shot and started incorporating leg training into her workout routine. She discovered it was more intimidating than she thought it would be and that she could become a leg training pro with the proper guidance and tips.
And now, she wants to share her knowledge with all the women who, like her, were once afraid to train their legs. Are you ready to join her on this journey and build the legs of your dreams?
Why Women Should Train Legs
Training legs is essential for women because it helps build strength and muscle in the lower body. Women should not neglect leg training and should incorporate it into their fitness routine for optimal health and fitness benefits.
Muscle Fiber Recruitment
Muscle fiber recruitment is a critical aspect of exercise performance that can affect your workout routine's effectiveness. How your muscles are stimulated during exercise plays a crucial role in muscle growth, strength development, and overall physical performance.
One of the most significant issues with the exercises is that they stimulate a limited number of muscle fibers compared to compound movements.
Compound movements are exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. These exercises, like the barbell back squat, deadlift, and bench press, are the cornerstone of any effective workout program because they allow you to work for several muscle groups in a single exercise.
By incorporating compound lifts into your routine instead of isolated movements like the hip adductor machine, you can benefit more from each exercise and simultaneously reduce the time you need to train your legs. You can also add Whey Protein Supplement to your routine to add muscle to your body and maximum strength.
The hip adductor machine is a popular exercise among women. Still, it only activates a small group of muscles in the leg, such as the adductor brevis, adductor long is, and gracilis.
These muscles are relatively small compared to other leg muscles, like the quadriceps, which comprise a significant portion of the leg muscles. While training smaller muscles like the adductor group can be helpful, compound lifts that simultaneously work for multiple muscle groups are more effective.
An ordinary mistake men and women make in the gym is to use more resistance during workouts to encourage muscle growth and adaptation. Many individuals stop their sets once they experience discomfort, but there are more effective approaches to building muscle.
Our bodies are adaptable and require sufficient resistance to stimulate new muscle tissue growth. Additionally, muscle tissue is metabolically expensive, meaning it takes a lot of energy to build and maintain.
Therefore, the body can be "stubborn" in adding more muscle tissue to fuel and maintain constantly. To counter this, trainees must consistently provide enough resistance to force the body to adapt and add new muscle tissue.
Another factor that influences muscle growth is muscle fiber recruitment. Trainers can positively affect muscle growth by using heavier weights or performing more reps, provided they perform the exercises adequately.
However, many training programs require taking each set to absolute or near-maximal muscular failure. As a muscle exerts near-maximal effort, a higher percentage of its fibers become active. As a muscle group adapts and strengthens, it recruits fewer fibers to lift a given load. You can also incorporate Pre-Workout Supplement to maximize strength and energy for lifting such loads.
Therefore, to continue building muscle, trainees must increase the weight or volume of their exercises over time. If progress stalls after an initial improvement period, it is likely due to a lack of progressive overload.
Focusing on compound movements promotes muscle growth and enhances caloric expenditure during training sessions. Compound exercises such as the squat and leg press demand considerable effort and proper technique as they require overall body stabilization, increased cardiac output, and exertion of force by multiple muscle groups.
This increased effort and energy expenditure, in addition to promoting consistent muscle strength and size improvement, results in burning more calories. Prioritizing compound movements in your workout routine can help you gain muscle, achieve cardiovascular benefits, and maintain a lean physique throughout the year.
One of the critical factors in determining muscle-building capacity is testosterone, and women typically have much lower testosterone levels than men.
The average male aged 19 or older has a total testosterone concentration of 240 to 950 ng/dL. In comparison, women of the same age range generally have concentrations of only 8-60 ng/dL, which is a mere 3-6% of their male counterparts.
While hormone levels can vary based on factors like age and lifestyle habits, this difference in testosterone levels means that women's muscle-building potential is much lower than men's, even if they lift as heavy as possible week after week.
Some exceptions exist, such as women genetically predisposed to gaining muscle or those who use performance-enhancing drugs to alter their hormone profile for more significant muscle growth.
Lifting weights can help women improve their physique and increase their muscle size healthily and overall aesthetic. Women should not worry about becoming overly bulky from weight training!
Leg Training for Women
Leg exercises for women are essential for building strong and toned legs and improving balance, stability, and flexibility. These exercises include squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg presses, and hip thrusts. Regular leg training can help women achieve their fitness goals and improve their health and well-being.
1. Barbell Squat
Squats are an excellent exercise that engages approximately 256 muscles simultaneously. They are considered fundamental exercises that should be included in all workout routines, regardless of fitness goals.
Squats primarily target the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, and core muscles. Performing a perfect squat is a sign of high athletic performance. However, it is crucial to maintain proper form while performing a barbell squat to avoid back pain.
When performing any type of squat, such as a dumbbell squat or bodyweight squat, it is essential to focus on engaging the hamstrings by adjusting foot placement. Choosing a squat variation that can be performed safely to prevent injury is essential.
To Do It,
- Set the barbell just below shoulder height and load the weight.
- Grab the weight with a wide grip and take the weight off the rack.
- Take a step back, hinge your hips backward, and lower yourself to squat.
- Keep facing forward as you lift it off. Lower your body down. Make sure your buttocks are pushed backward and dropdown.
- Once you feel your thighs are parallel to the floor, come back up.
- Keep your knees bent and ensure they are not locked.
- Go for another rep.
2. Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is a potent exercise that lives up to its name. It is a variation of the traditional deadlift that mainly works the hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise targets all the muscles involved in the movement, improving their range of motion, reducing injury risk, and enhancing strength and coordination. It is a beneficial exercise regardless of your fitness goals.
To increase your training frequency, try doing Romanian deadlifts on leg days and a different variation of the deadlift on pull days. Since the hip hinge movement is crucial, choose a variation that suits your comfort level.
To Do It,
- Stand at a hip-width distance and hold the bar over your shoelaces.
- Place a double overhand grip, slightly wider than your hip-width, and deadlift the bar to the position such that your hips and knees are locked out.
- Begin the Romanian deadlift by pushing the hips back and extending forward so that the bar is rightly below knee length.
- Make sure to drive through the whole leg through the movement.
- Return and repeat for the desired number of reps.
3. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges mimic our natural walking motion, engaging multiple muscles in the lower body and core. They are strength exercises that can help increase muscle size and functional strength while promoting flexibility and balance. Walking lunges are a great addition to any workout routine.
To Do It,
- Stand with your feet at a hip distance apart. Keep your torso upright and tall, core engaged, shoulders pressed backward, and the chip straight up.
- Look straight ahead.
- Take a whole step forward, and keep it around two feet ahead.
- You will move naturally, keeping up with a natural wide stride.
- You can keep your hands on your pelvis for support.
- Keep your core engaged and straight.
- Bend your knees simultaneously; stop before your back knee touches the floor.
- Inhale as you lower your body.
- Rise by pressing on your back, knee, and foot.
- Continue stepping forward with each lunge, alternating sides as you do.
- If your balance is going haywire, stop and rest for a while. Gather your balance and continue.
4. Leg Press
To perform the leg press, you will require a leg press machine. It is similar to the barbell back squat but is done on a machine. While both exercises are beneficial for your legs, they have significant differences.
The leg press focuses primarily on the quadriceps, whereas squats target various leg muscles. Despite its simplicity, focusing on the correct technique while performing this exercise is crucial. In addition, it strengthens the leg muscles.
To Do It,
- Load the machine with a weight that seems comfortable to you.
- Take a seat and sit down on the seat with your feet on the footplate about hip-width apart. Your feet should be flat. The lower back and glutes should be in contact with the seat.
- Embrace your core and push the platform away with the help of your feet.
- Extend your legs in a controlled manner and exhale.
- Pause at the top and make sure that your knees are not locked.
- While inhaling, return the footplate to its original position by bending your knees.
5. Barbell Hip Thrust
The Barbell Hip Thrust is a modified version of the bodyweight hip thrust designed to concentrate on the gluteal muscles. It also engages the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves as supportive muscles.
The exercise is particularly beneficial in enhancing the size and strength of your glutes, making it a great addition to your leg workouts or overall full-body workouts, regardless of your fitness objectives.
To Do it,
- Sit upon the ground with your legs bent and your feet no more than hip distance apart. Tilt your toes out just a little bit. Place your upper back against the center of the weight bench, resting it on the edge.
- Put the barbell across your hips. To keep it in place, grab the bar with both hands. Do not use your arms to lift it.
- Squeeze the glutes and keep the bar straight ahead until your hips align with your shoulders and knees. The bench should support the mid-scapula region. With a focus on down your body (about a few inches above the bar), maintain a minimal chin tuck and keep your core tight.
- Slowly lower the bar until the hips are just a few inches off the ground.
- Squeeze the glutes and lift the bar back up.
Training legs is not just for men. Women can benefit significantly from incorporating leg training into their workout routines. Women can build strength, improve balance, and enhance overall athletic performance by targeting the large muscle groups in the legs.
Not to mention, having toned and robust legs can boost confidence and body image. With exercises like barbell squats, Romanian deadlifts, walking lunges, leg presses, and barbell hip thrusts, women can start building bigger and stronger legs in no time. So, don't skip leg day, ladies, and get ready to crush your fitness goals!
- Hanson, Erik D., et al. "EFFECTS OF STRENGTH TRAINING ON PHYSICAL FUNCTION: INFLUENCE OF POWER, STRENGTH, AND BODY COMPOSITION." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, vol. 23, no. 9, Dec. 2009, pp. 2627-37. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b2297b.