America has become obsessed with Michelle Obama’s toned arms, which enable her to boldly wear sleeveless dresses. Are we seeing a paradigm shift in the way women are thinking about their bodies? Do I have a new, major market for my new book about arm training? Ah, probably not.
With due respect to the First Lady, most women could not care less about having a peaked biceps or stunning forearms. Just look at the cover teasers on women’s fitness magazines, with promises of shapely glutes and legs dominating the page. Sure, there is always a feature on the latest bizarre crunch exercises, or some mysterious Pilates stretch that contorts your body into a position that resembles recombinant DNA, but the focus is always on how to build shapely legs and glutes. This article will show you how – or at least, how to get started.
Since shaping these areas is a major topic of interest in the women’s market, I will give you a routine every month to achieve that goal. This one has you training the lower body twice a week.
Phase 1: Strength-Endurance Phase
When beginning any program, or when coming off an extended break from serious weight training, it’s best to start with a method of training called strength-endurance. This type of workout is characterized by higher reps, or relatively high reps and short rest intervals. The result is the production of a lot of an exercise byproduct called lactic acid, and for those who are not used to such training it can quickly lead to nausea. So at first, you need to use relatively light weights until your conditioning improves.
Because this is a taxing program, there is a tendency to perform the exercises quickly. Don’t – as not only will this affect the desired results, but also when you neglect the tempo, often the quality of performance will diminish, which can increase the risk of injury.
If you’re not familiar with my workouts, I use a system of numbers and letters to designate the order in which the exercises should be performed. With these workouts, you will see the letters A-1, A-2 and A-3. This means that you perform the exercises in a circuit: You will perform one set of exercise A-1, followed by one set of exercise A-2, followed by one set of exercise A-3. And the tempo represents how long to perform each phase of an exercise: A formula of 3124 means that you would lower the weight in three seconds, pause in the midrange position for one second, lift the weight in two seconds, and then rest four seconds before performing another repetition.
Note the short rest intervals after the first two exercises in each cycle, followed by the longer rest interval after the third exercise. You want to work hard, but you don’t want to be breathing so hard that you can’t concentrate on using good form. Also, I’ve arranged the exercises from hardest (back squat) to the easiest (a relative term in this case) (dumbbell deadlift). This order will provide a consistent level of difficulty throughout the workout – not easy, mind you, but consistent.
A-1. Back Squat
15 reps, on a 3010 tempo, resting only 10 seconds
A-2. Dumbbell Lunge
10 reps per leg on a 20X0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds between sets
A-3. Dumbbell Deadlifts
25 reps (yes, 25 reps…as in 20 plus 5). Rest 3 minutes.
Do three of these cycles, which will be a total of nine sets. If you find this routine too easy, I don’t believe you and suggest you find yourself a PICP certified coach in your area to take you through it. To find a certified coach, click here.
After that, we’ll talk.…
OK, let’s move on to the second workout (and by the way, if you can’t work out on Monday and Thursday, then try Tuesday and Friday – it doesn’t matter, as long as you give yourself at least two days of rest to fully recover from each training day). This exercise concentrates more on the hamstrings.
Note that the position of the feet is different in the first two exercises. This is because there are several hamstring muscles and they have different lines of pull. As such, to thoroughly work this muscle group you need to vary your foot position on leg curls.
A-1. Lying Leg Curl, Feet Inward
8 reps on a 40X0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds before decreasing the weight and performing A-2
A-2. Lying Leg Curls, Feet Outward
8 reps on a 40X0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds before performing A-3
A-3. Back extensions
25 reps (yes, 25 reps…as in 20 plus 5). Rest 3 minutes before returning to A-1.
Also perform three complete cycles. Again, this workout only involves nine sets, but is much more difficult than it looks on paper. This day concentrates more on the hamstrings.
This is an especially effective program. For motivation, you should record your measurements and take before-and-after photos, and also get your bodyfat percentage checked. Of course, make certain to address proper nutrition and supplementation because without them, you won’t get all the results you want, but you can be sure that this routine will propel your results.
Give this program a try for one month, and then get ready for the next program. This will be fun!
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