Most women hit the gym not necessarily to get big and bulky, but rather to tone up and keep/get things tight. The most talked about body parts are usually legs and glutes. Not only do girls want legs that they can look good on the beach with, but also a set of strong legs is a staple for keeping your entire body strong for years to come. Use these three exercises to help sculpt a set of strong, sleek and toned legs, along with a set of glutes to make that ex-boyfriend jealous or whatever your reason may be!
The Best Leg & Glute Exercises
✓ The King (or Queen) of Leg Exercises, Squats
Squats rule the world, building a great pair of legs on anybody! Having the right mindset makes all the difference when it comes to having a great squat session. Go into each session knowing you’re going to kill it and build the best legs you can possibly have. Squats are the hardest, but also the most beneficial exercise for developing all areas of your legs, from your calves to your glutes.
With different ranges of motion and different depths/styles of squatting, you can actually target different areas of the legs a little more specifically. For example, a traditional back squat will work an all-around combo of quads, hamstring and glutes while a front squat will work the teardrop portion of the quad, with less emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings.
Keeping the legs closer together will help you work the outer sweep of the quad while kicking the legs out into a sumo squat will work your adductors and inner thighs. Squat depth is inherently the same principle – the lower you go to the floor, the more glute activation you’ll have. So for you ladies who are looking to perk up those glutes, lighten the weight and go as low as possible with some controlled form to blast your glutes.
✓ Lunge Your Way to Lean Legs
You’ll hear a lot of competitors talk about the ham-glute tie-in muscles and how crucial these are to scoring well with the judges. The best exercise for this? Lunges. Lunges help in two ways with this:
1. By forcing the hips to be stretched and in a strong stable position for the glutes and abductors/adductors to be activated
2. By allowing the hamstring and quads to engage thoroughly through either a constant stretch or contraction. No other movement does this and its balancing effect of strengthening both the front side and posterior side of the leg is second to none.
Lunges aren’t just for looks either. They are one of the most athletic moves you can perform in the weight room. Perform them weighted with a barbell, with kettlebells/dumbbells or even with resistance bands. If you opt for weighted lunges, try incorporating some unilateral training by using dumbbells in order to further engage each leg and activate your core. To build some serious strength and explosiveness, try some jumping alternating lunges and work on height as well as the control of the landing to help build speed and strength.
✓ Hip Thrusts for the Win
You’ve probably seen big-time NFL players using this move with hundreds of pounds in order to please the folks on Instagram. However, this exercise is used to improve hip mobility as well as hip activation and firing of the glutes. The biggest advice for this exercise is to start slow and steady and keep the weight light. This will allow you to get the stretch and contraction down to a “T” and be able to bump the weight up from there.
Hip thrusts performed correctly with the barbell will absolutely blow up your glutes if performed correctly. For each rep, imagine you’re trying to hold a $100 bill between your butt cheeks and that squeeze should be emphasized on each rep to reap the most benefits. Although a great glute builder, this move will also help with hip extension as well as the triple extension position needed for sprinting and jumping. Experiment with reps, tempo and poundage to suit the needs you’re trying to fill: for more power and explosion, use heavier weight and lower the reps and for more toning of the muscle, use a lighter weight with higher reps in a more controlled fashion.
Take Home Message
If you’re a lady in need of upping your glute game, check out these 3 moves for everything you need. Use the squats to develop a full, well-rounded leg musculature as well as some overall strength. Don’t be afraid to do some weighted lunges to sculpt that hamstring-glute tie-in and incorporate the rest of the body for some core work. And finally, use the hip thrusts (wisely) in a manner in which you can control the weight and properly activate the muscle with each rep. Use these lifts and you’ll sculpt a great booty as well as build some big-time strength!