Skip to content

Top 5 Leg Exercises: Pursuing Leg Strength

Training legs can be a daunting workout, but because legs are the biggest muscle group in the body, a lower body workout can very effective in developing muscle, increasing performance, or weight loss. With as many machines that exist for working out, I find that some of the best lower body exercises just require your body and a barbell or dumbbells! A good warm-up is always necessary to keep your lower back and knees healthy. This can entail glute activation exercises, core work, and/or stretching. Once you’re warmed up, I always recommend working through the big compound movements first and then progressing onto the accessory work once your legs are already fatigued.  This approach will maximize your efforts for the big, dense muscle groups and reduce the stress on your joints during isolation exercises.

Sets and Reps

After warming up, there are a few different sets and rep schemes that you can incorporate to get stronger and gain muscle. A good foundation will always be 3 to 4 sets of 12. But as you get comfortable with that, you’ll need to progress to heavier weights. Start with one set of 15 at a manageable weight, then add weight and decrease your reps every set. Your last set may be so heavy that you can only manage 3-5 reps, and that’s good! The idea is to address muscle fiber endurance (with the first two sets at 12-15 reps) and then address pure strength of the muscle fibers in the second two sets (reps ranging between 3-8). Addressing muscle endurance and muscle fiber strength in your leg workouts will be tough, but the results are worth it. Whether you’re trying to achieve your next level of performance or a certain look, introducing these strategies into your workouts will help.

Squats

With squats, you should try to get as strong as you can! Whenever you squat, you want to shift your weight into your heels and keep your chest from falling forward. The stronger you get with squats, the stronger your back and core will get as well.  There are many different ways to squat: back squats, sumo squats, front squats, single leg, sissy, or hack squats, to name a few. Your goals might determine which squats are best for you, or your injuries/limitations may determine which one is best for you. I like doing CrossFit; so for me,  back squats, front squats, and single leg squats are best for me to focus on in my workouts. So whichever type you choose, it’s good to rotate through them with your workouts to avoid over training one movement. 

Deadlifts

280 lb for 2 touch and go reps!

Again, get as strong as you can with this! Keep your back straight, chest up, and drive your heels into the ground to pull. I could write whole articles about squats and deadlifts and cues for doing them correctly, but those are the basics of deadlifting. The deadlift is considered the most taxing exercise on your nervous and muscular system because of all the muscle groups involved. That’s what makes it so important to incorporate and get strong with it! Because you should approach the deadlift with getting strong and doing heavy sets, I wouldn’t recommend doing heavy deadlifts on the same day as heavy squats at first.

Lunges

I have a bittersweet relationship with lunges. They suck. Big time. But they work! They’ll get your heart rate up and they burn a lot of calories.  Aim for 90 degree angles for your front and back leg while keeping your weight on your back leg. Keeping your weight in your back leg reduces the stress on the knee of your forward leg. Lunges are best in high volume training, so endurance is the goal. You can do lunges weighted, but I would recommend a weight that allows you to get at least 20 lunges at a time. Some people’s knees don’t tolerate lunges very well, so they may need to be modified in order to do them pain free. I’ve trained people with knee replacements and hip replacements and every injury in between. If you’re cleared to workout, there are modifications to everything, and I promise you that your body is capable of more than you probably think. 

Romanian Deadlifts

This is considered an accessory exercise. That means you should do this after your big compound movements like squats and lunges.This exercise is great for isolating the hamstrings while still incorporating the glutes and core. I like to recommend that people do this exercise one leg at a time to reduce how much weight they need to get in good work. It’s important to keep good posture and to listen to your body as to whether this is a good exercise for you.

Leg Extensions

This is also considered an accessory exercise and should be done at the end of your workout. Leg extensions require a machine that can be found in almost every traditional gym setting. It’s not necessary for sports performance per se, but it’s very helpful in developing a well rounded muscle structure for legs.

Training legs doesn’t have to complicated to be effective. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. If you’re interested in a more in depth training for legs, core, or upper body, check out my online training packages! My online training clients get access to in depth instructional videos and detailed workout routines.


Want to see more? Subscribe and receive a free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


Stop Dieting! Have a Health Approach to Eating Habits!

There are fad diets and different eating plans and advice on nutrition everywhere you look. Especially at the beginning of the year, there are individuals and businesses trying to capitalize on people’s resolutions to get healthier. Throughout the year, they prey on people’s insecurities to convince them that buying into a diet will provide the magic cure for their body image issues. Does it work? Does any of it work? Statically, no. Obesity is at an all time high in America. An estimated 40% of American adults are battling obesity these days and it looks like those numbers are on the rise. Although I could write whole articles of the causes of obesity/ being overweight and the populations that are more at risk and why, today I’m going to write about simplifying nutrition. 

Along with a sedentary lifestyle, an over busy work schedule, and the incredible convenience of unhealthy food choices, mis-information about nutrition contributes in a big way to people being unable to stick to habits of healthy eating. So what’s the secret? Honestly, the best nutrition plan is one that you can stick to–even if it’s imperfect. It’s true! Turning your life upside down and changing everything in pursuit of a healthier body is usually unsustainable for the long-term. The most balanced solution is finding one change you can implement at a time. Take one meal in your day and change it to something healthier that you can reasonably stick to. Be consistent with that change Remember! It takes 21 days to create a habit. After you created your new habit, it’s time to take the next step! One baby step at a time can lead to huge progress over time.

Consistency will always outweigh intensity when it comes to a healthy body and a healthy mind. That goes for everything, not just nutrition. Whether it’s your eating habits, exercise, or meditation, being consistent with the steps you take will take you further than burning out with high intensity. If you’re looking for more information on exercise, check out the fitness section of my site or enroll in my online training!

An important thing to always keep in mind is how crucial it is to get “back on the wagon” when you fall off. And we all fall off sometimes. I, personally, try to eat well, eight out of ten times. And that’s good for me! Some weeks it’s more like five or six out of ten. I’m never 100% on point with my nutrition and I have no intention to ever be perfect with my it. I’m not a bodybuilder trying to get on stage . I’m not a professional athlete. I’m not a public figure with a team of people helping me live my life. I’m just a woman who has a full time job helping people. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a friend. I struggle with depression. I struggle with social anxiety. I don’t have the time or capacity to be perfect with my nutrition or my workouts and I never will. And I’m willing to bet that nine out of ten people are just like me. Which means falling off is part of the journey, right? Just like getting back on track–it’s all part of the process. 

So expect to fall off! Expect motivation to come and go like waves at a beach. Expect real life to kick your ass sometimes. It’s okay. It’s not a failure. It’s just part of the journey that we’re all on. Just don’t give up. When you can, get back on track. One step at a time. Getting back on track might look different every time, and that’s okay too! The important thing is that you show up to your own life and you try.

That being said, eating healthy does not have to be complicated. Granted, eating healthy can be repetitive, especially if you’re on a budget like I am. But, if it doesn’t work for you or your life, you don’t have to make it complicated with carbohydrate cycling, or the keto diet, or intermittent fasting, and all that stuff. All of which are viable eating approaches if they work for you! But if we’re talking about just the basics, clean eating is actually pretty simple. Your body needs protein regularly throughout the day. This is really important if you’re working towards more muscle tone and you’re lifting weights.

Clean eating doesn’t have to complicated, it just has to be consistent.

It’s good if you eat veggies every time you eat as well. I, personally, get too full/bloated if I eat veggies every time I eat, but veggies are great if you feel like you’re used to eating bigger portions and need to feel more full. For most people, it will be carbs that will make or break their ability to lean out or not. Most people need one serving of carbohydrates before they work out and one serving after they workout. Carbs are your fuel! If you’re going to be using fuel, you”ll need some! If not, you don’t really need any. Most of us don’t burn a whole lot of energy with our day to day life, so more often than not, you just need good protein and some veggies. If it’s a rest day, one serving of carbs first thing in the morning is all you really need. I you want your very own Clean Eating Guide, subscribe to my blog and I’ll send you one for free!

This cheat sheet breaks down a simple list of options and serving sizes of lean proteins, high quality veggies, and good choices for carbohydrates. Now keep in mind that every person is different. Everyone is a different size, has different genetics, different body chemistry, and different schedules. So my guide is really just meant to be used as a tool to help you set up a plan that works for you. If you feel run down and out of energy, you may need to tweak how much protein or carbs you take in, so tweak away!! 

You’ll notice, though, that most everything on the lists are whole, raw foods. That’s not by accident! If health is a pursuit of yours, trying to incorporate real foods (not just food products) is crucial to improving your health. Our bodies were not designed to process or use the preservatives and chemicals found in ready-made food products. Even if you didn’t change portions or timing of your meals, if you just changed from processed foods to real foods, your body will function more properly and you will feel better. Simply because your body won’t be slowed down by the artificial chemicals and preservatives!

The great news about my food guide is that it’s not a diet! That’s right! You’ll never have to diet again. It’s just clean eating knowledge that you follow as much as you choose. Like I mentioned earlier, a good goal for me is eating clean 8 out of 10 times. If I wanted to lean out (or make up for a week when I followed it five out of ten times) I would follow it more often. I’ve had so many clients that had great results with this approach to eating because it works! 

Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated for it to work, and definitely doesn’t have to be expensive. Good nutrition just needs to be consistent for it to work. Choosing small steps that you can realistically make into a habit will help you out more in the long run than a short lived diet plan. Just keep taking the right steps for you!



Subscribe to my blog to receive your free guide to clean eating!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Follow me on Instagram!


In Pursuit of Yourself || In Pursuit of Balance

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” -Steven Jay Gould

In Pursuit of Nutrition Balance: Why am I eating AGAIN? || In the Pursuit of Balance

I’m sitting on the couch and constantly finding myself wondering what I can eat next…. Sound familiar to anyone else? Please tell me I’m not alone on this! I’m usually on the go and busy with work so now that I am at home looking for things to occupy my time with, I feel hungry all the time. Is it because my body needs more food? Hell no!


%d bloggers like this: