Two plans to help you show off your lower half, quick….
Do you feel like your hard work is only showing above the waist?
Create body symmetry with two below-the-belt workout plans
Does this sound familiar: You’ve been killing it in the gym and eating super-healthy, calorie-appropriate meals, and you’re seeing results-on top, anyway. Your upper body is very tight, but your hips, butt and thighs? Not quite there yet.
The Fact Is That Your Womanly supply of estrogen and an abundance of fat-hoarding alphareceptors below the waist make leaning out the legs and butt a challenge. You may want to throw yourself in front of a pricey trainer and wail, “Fix me!” but we’ve got a better solution.
We posed this predicament to renowned strength coaches Brad Schoenfled MSc, CSCS, and Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, and according to these top trainers, the answer to getting results from a stubborn lower body is circuit training, which will maximize fat loss while strengthening your muscles. Even better, they’ve each provided you with a killer workout to bring up your trouble zones. Follow one or switch between the two for dramatic, head-turning leg definition in a fraction of the time of traditional workouts.
You may wonder why there’s an upper-body component to Brad’s routine. Building metabolically active muscle from head to toe will help you shed more body fat in the long run, and performing upper and lower-body exercises within one routine will bring symmetry to your shape while increasing the metabolic rate of the training session, causing your body to burn more calories during and after your workout.
- Get Started : Perform each exercise in the order given, following each with a 30-second cardio bout. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between circuits-adjusts the amount of time according to your own level of conditioning, says Brad-then repeat twice. Do this workout three days a week with 48 hours of rest in between
- Reps and Sets: To maximize fat burning, stay within a higher rep range (about 15 to 20) If you want to add muscle, increase the weight and do eight to 12 reps.
- Your Cardio Bouts: Select from jumping jacks, jogging on the treadmill, jumping rope, squat thrusts or any other moderate-intensity movement-that means no all-out sprints! Work at approximately 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, depending on your level of conditioning. Vary your method of cardio so you don’t repeatedly fatigue your muscles in the same way.
- Be Sure To Progress: Do the workout for three weeks, then unload by cutting back on your volume and effort for one week. This means that a) you’ll only train on two nonconsecutive days (e.g. Monday and Thursday), and b) you’ll end sets short of fatigue, so choose a challenging but doable weight.
After seven days, repeat the original workout for three more weeks, then unload again before switching to a new program.
Follow each exercise with 30 seconds of cardio.
1. Dumbbell shoulder press
How To: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and raise your arms so that your wrists are stacked over your elbows and your upper arms align with your shoulders [A]. Extend your arms overhead [B], then slowly lower.
Alternate Exercise: Seated dumbbell shoulder press, barbell military press.
2. Seated cable row
How To: Sit at a cable rowing station and hold the attachments with both hands, palms facing in. Keeping your torso upright, pull the handle towards your navel, then extend your arms to return to the start.
Alternate Exercise: T-bar row, barbell row, one-arm dumbbell row.
3. Barbell chest press
How To: Lie face up on a flat bench with your feet anchored, and hold a barbell a few inches above your chest with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Press the bar above you until your arms are straight but unlocked, then return to the start.
Alternate Exercise: Standing cable chest press, wide push-up.
4. Back Squat
How To: With feet spaced shoulder-width apart, rest a barbell across your upper back and hold it with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip [A]. Bend your knees and hips, maintaining a straight back and directing your tailbone towards the wall behind you, until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly lower [B]. Extend your legs to return to the starting position.
Alternate Exercise: Barbell lunge, Bulgarian split squat.
5. Barbell deadlift
How To: Stand with your feet under a barbell on the ground in front of you. Squat down and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip (either overhand or mixed, with one palm facing toward and the other facing your body). Maintaining a straight back as you straighten your knees and extend your hips until you are upright, pulling back your shoulder blades at the top position; reverse fluidly.
Alternate Exercise: Romanian deadlift
Overcome your lower-half struggle
Keep these experts tips in mind whether you are working your working your upper body, lower body or doing cardio.
Insight From Rachel:
- Do perform full-body compound exercises, working in the full range of motion and using a load that is challenging.
- Don’t use seated, fixed machines that isolate one muscle group.
- Do perform interval-style cardio, pushing your intensity for short bursts, recovering and repeating.
- Don’t stick with the same cardio routine. Try something you’re not used to. If you run a lot, switch up and climb the stairs, or jump on a bike and ride up a hill.
Pointers From Bad:
- Do train your entire body to add muscle, which is important to your overall metabolism.
- Don’t avoid training your lower body; you’ll lose out on that metabolic edge. But don’t train your legs every day: give your body enough time to recuperate.
- Do try higher-intensity cardio. Interval training for 20 to 30 minutes is excellent for fat loss-if you can tolerate it. Also, change your modality often, such as trying machine-free cardio, like plyometrics or running outdoors, in addition to gym workouts.
- Don’t overdo cardio training, which can increase level of cortisol, making it harder to mobilize fat for fuel.
Your Quickie Gym Plan
Rachel has selected free-weight and cable-machine moves over isolating weight machines in order to target your entire body – especially your lower body and core-with every rep. And don’t shy away from packing promptly become accustomed to light, high-rep sets, robbing you of sexy definition, says Rachel.
Get Started: Perform the exercise with the same number as a superset. Repeat each superset two to three times in a row, resting no more than 30 seconds between exercises A and B, and no more than 60 seconds after the second exercise. Perform this work-out two to three days a week with at least one day of rest between your sessions.
Reps And Sets: Do 8 to 10 repetitions of each exercise using a challenging weight. (Your last few reps should be difficult but not impossible to get out.)
Your Cardio Component: Supplement this plan with two to three days of interval-style cardio workouts.
1a. Hip-thigh extension
How To: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Raise your left foot so that your leg is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Lift your glutes so that your left leg and torso form a straight line. Lower, holding your glutes an inch from the floor before repeating. Complete your reps, then switch legs.
1b. Plank with alternating leg extension
How To: Begin in a plank position with your forearms on the ground and your elbows below your shoulder. Lift your right legs as shown; at the same time, raise and extend your left arm in front of you. Hold, then return to the start. Repeat with your opposite arm and leg to complete one rep.
How To: Stand with a barbell on the ground in front of you and squat to grab it with a shoulder-width grip (either overhand or mixed)[A]. Extend your knees and hips to stand, jutting your pelvis slightly forward at the top [B]. Reverse to return to the start.
2b. Dumbbell push-press
How To: Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in. Raise the dumbbells until they are just above your shoulders; your upper arms should be just below parallel to the floor. [A]. Squat down a quarter of the way, then extend your legs rapidly, using the momentum to raise the dumbbells overhead. [B].
3a. Cable split squat
How To: Hold a D-handle attached to a low pulley in your right hands. Step back until you feel tension in the cable, and get into a wide staggered stance with your left foot in front. Bend both legs to lunge. Then extend your legs to return to the start. When finished, switch sides.
3b. Half-bench dumbbell chest press
How To: Position your upper and middle back against the end of a flat bench, with your legs bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells in a classic chest press position with your forearms vertical, upper arms in line with your shoulders bad your wrists stacked over your elbows. Extend your arms above your chest until they are straight but unlocked, then lower.