Since I posted on one of the community portals the photo of my progress of several months, I have received lots of questions on what I did to make my legs slimmer. Indeed, by changing my training program and eating habits I managed to lose 6 cm from my thigh size! (this number is still shocking to me).
My legs have always been my demon. Even though I had trained hard for two years, ate healthy (or at least I thought I did), managed to shape my belly, build some muscles here and there, the legs and the bottom lived their own lives. I had low body fat level, visible streaks on my shoulders, ABS exposed and the legs still disproportionally big. What I was lacking, was the knowledge regarding the proper training system and diet, which are an indispensable part, when we want to achieve good effects.
I supposedly did everything right: leg strength training (then incorporated in circuit trainings), free weights – quite impressive for a woman, 60kg in back squats constituting more that 100% of my body mass, 100-150 kg on the Smith machine. My quads rose (which is clearly visible after body fat reduction) mainly because of shallow squads and many other exercises, which I did additionally. My biceps femoris muscles rose a bit slower, but they did. Unfortunately, the body fat level maintained the same or was lowered very slowly. Moreover, I had a feeling that my legs kept a lot of water (which was influenced by the products I ate).
Luckily for me, I met my current trainer, Bartłomiej Szymalski, who totally changed my training program and my diet. It turned out that I had made several mistakes and some exercises simply were not for me.
First of all, my training started to be split into separate muscle parts. Now I do leg training twice a week and also train legs during HIIT, which I include from time to time to the weekly program. Additionally, I applied more series and more repetitions along with shorter breaks between the subsequent exercises. Certainly, I try to make some progress as far as the weights are concerned. If I do not feel the resistance and easily do more than 10-12 repetitions – I add kilograms. And on top of that, the hated cardio. It appears 2-3 times a week after workout or in the morning on empty stomach.
What exercises do I do? Mainly lunges, ATG squats, straight-leg deadlifts, cable leg swings (back and side), machines for biceps femoris muscles, abductors and adductors. Apart from this, a few dynamic exercises, such as lunge hops or squat jumps with step. I mainly focus on biceps femoris and gluteus, I do not practice quadriceps femoris separately, as they are big enough, but certainly the are involved during other exercises. It is important to do the toughest exercise first (e.g. deep barbell back squat) and the lightest exercise as the last one (deadlift with 20 kg dumbbell). In such a way, our organism is stimulated evenly for the whole time, at the beginning as well as at the end of the training. One can also join two exercises of the contrary muscle parts together in the so-called super series (e.g. deadlift and leg extensions). I think, however, that super series deserve a separate post.
For me, personally, the best exercise both for legs and buttons are squats. Of course the most effective are deep squats, “ass to grass”, as they involve the highest number of muscles. It is a very basic exercise that works for the biggest and strongest muscle parts: thighs, calves, bottoms or even back and belly. During fat reduction I take smaller weights (around 20-25 kg) and do a lot of repetitions (15-20) and short breaks between the series. This type of a training incentive produces a lot of lactic acid and may cause nausea, so at the beginning we should use smaller weights until we are trained enough. Squats have to be done slowly and precisely to avoid an injury. Squats requite the knowledge of a proper technique, therefore if we are not sure about it, we should do them under the watchful eye of a more experienced person and with his or her help. Sometimes it is better to finish the assumed number of repetitions with help than to do only part of them by oneself. Very often the difference is made by the mere fact that somebody holds the barbell with their fingers (psychology?). If you do not feel comfortable with doing squats with a big barbell, take smaller dumbbells or use Smith machine. Squats can also be done with a kettlebell or one dumbbell. Then you have to stand on two steps and do deep sumo squats.
We should not limit ourselves to only one type of squats. I like experimenting and join several squat techniques during one training: sumo, front, back squats. Lately I have also been learning the technique of overhead squats, but for now only with 20kg and with the help of a CrossFit trainer, Marcin Zuzański. The feet position is also important. If they are broader, the gluteus and abductor get more involved.
What is important is watching your knees so that they do not go inside. This tendency is visible mainly among women (which supposedly stems from our shyness).
There is no point writing anything more. Girls, if you want to have slim legs and nice rounded buttons, do not be afraid of weights and barbells.
At the end, I would like to say, that I am very pleased to join Mucle-Zone team! I will soon write something about my diet and ABS trainings. I hope you will enjoy my posts.