Simple, sexy legs

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Simple, sexy legs

Simple, sexy legs

By Rachel Crocker, Fitness editor Photography Paul Buceta Model Theresa Jenn Lopetrone

In a modern dietary landscape that offers the most tantalising foods from right around the globe, and in the same way that exotic fruits and veggies quickly become “the next big thing” in nutrition, up-and-coming training programs often tend to steal the thunder of the exercises we have been doing since the rise of recre-ational exercise. While it is impor-tant to adjust your workouts regularly to keep your body and mind on their proverbial toes, sometimes, the sim-plest solution is what you really need. “It seems like every new exercise modality is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or purports functional training benefits,” notes Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, CSCS, author of A Woman’s Guide to Muscle and Strength (Human Kinetics, 2012). But, ironi-cally, she notes that when it comes to functional move-ments, “there is no replacement for a lunge or deadlift,” despite the latest claims. A closer look at the deadlift, for example, will show that despite its sim-plicity, the motion is one that you do each and every day. And one more bit of food for thought: basic one-legged motions, like lunges, have perhaps the most transferable benefits of all lower-body exercises. Training one leg at a time or by alternat-ing legs will improve your balance, as well as strengthen tiny supporting muscles and help make everyday activities more fluid. Put these tried-and-tested tools to work today – we’ve got three plans con-sisting of four basic exercises, providing you with enough variety to work your quads, glutes and hams up to three times per week.

Workout #1: Dirty 30

Three exercises for 10 reps each using medium resistance, ending with a high-rep (30 per leg) burnout.

Workout #2: Test your Limits

Four sets of five reps with ample rest means you need touse a ton of weight. (have a partner hand you the weights and spot you.)

Workout #3: Killer Circuit

Jack your heart rate by doing one set of each exercise in a row with light resistance. At the end, rest for one to two minutes and repeat twice.

Rest one to two minutes; repeat twice from the top.

The exercises:



Barbell back squat

Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings

Set up:
Hold a barbell across the back of your shoulders with a grip wider than shoulder width. Position your heels under your hips, or slightly wider.

Action: Keeping your chest lifted, abs braced and your eyes focused ahead, bend your knees and hips to direct your tailbone behind you. stop when your thighs come parallel to the ground – or a bit lower, if you can – then press through the soles of your feet to return to the starting position.

Your knees can flare out slightly as you lower, but don’t allow them to jut in front of your toes.



Reverse lunge off step

Target muscles: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae

Set up:
Begin by standing with your feet about hip-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your thighs .

Step one leg behind you and bend both legs to drop into a lunge. Return to the start, and alternate legs with each rep.

If your balance is poor or you are just start-ing out, omit the exercise step and do the action on the floor.



Bulgarian split squat

Target muscles:
Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus

Set up:
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand in front of an exercise bench. Extend one leg behind you and place your foot, sole up, onto the bench.

Focus on maintaining an upright torso as you bend your knees to lower your body towards the floor. Pause for one count at the bottom, then press through the foot of your standing leg to return to the start.

After placing your foot on the bench, hop your front leg forward a few centimetres to ensure that your knee stays behind your toes as you squat.



Romanian deadlift

Target muscles:
Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae

Set up:
Begin by standing with your feet about hip-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your thighs.

As you lean forward from your hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor, bend your knees slightly to help engage your quadriceps. Contract your glutes and hamstrings as you rise, straight-ening your legs as you extend from your hips.

Move the barbell in a straight path up and down, keep-ing it close to your body throughout each rep.

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