Legs You Can Lean On

Leg Lift

Arms, abs, butt—there are a lot of body parts we can focus on in the gym. But when I discuss goals or favorite features with my female clients in particular, legs are the most common answer.

Well, great news, ladies: there are a lot of things we can do to change the way our legs look! Through some hard work, good dieting, and smart training, you can improve your leg strength and leanness big-time.

The Route to Leaner Legs

1. Nutrition still counts!

Don’t expect to get leaner legs if you aren’t putting in the work in the kitchen.

2. Forget the “thigh gap.”

If you’re still stressing over this craze, it’s a good time to let it go. Here’s an awesome post about why the thigh gap focus is absolute crap.

3. Bump up your weights.

Strength training is your ticket! Hopefully the fitness industry has already properly debunked the myth that you should tone up with low weights and high reps. If not, here’s the CliffNotes: Getting “bulky” doesn’t happen by accident, and there’s no difference between “lean” muscle and “bulky” muscle. It’s not in a woman’s typical genetics to blow up with muscle, so don’t worry about getting bigger from increasing the weight. By working with heavier resistance and building muscle, you can increase muscle mass and burn fat, which will give you the “lean” look you are going for. For more info on this, read: 5 Reasons to Try Strength Training.

The Nitty-Gritty Actions

Alright. In order to build some great legs, think about these three types of movements:

1. Knee Dominant Movements

These movements will focus on your quads, hips, and stability.
Examples: Explosive Step-ups, Squats, Leg Extensions

2. Hip Dominant Movements

These will build your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and core, and also increase power in your hips.
Examples: Reverse Bridges, Lunges, Kettlebell Swings

3. Lateral Movements

Lateral movements are great for building your inner AND outer thighs. They also build glute muscles and hit every other leg area that I’ve mentioned above.
Examples: Lateral Lunges, Skater Lunges, Lateral Shuffles

Keep these in mind, and you’ll find there are countless valuable leg exercises that apply, so you have lots of good options. If you include at least one of these movements in every workout, you will get those leaner and stronger legs in no time. Good luck building legs you can lean on!

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Luke Andrus is a certified personal trainer, ACE health coach, writer, folk music drummer, husband, and a father. Most of his writing experience is in poetry and fictional short stories, and he also proposed to his wife with a self-published children's book. He is a Narnia nerd with a degree in History, a minor in English, and a semi-obsession with the French language. He believes that fitness is not just about vanity, but about lifestyle, integrity, and the ability to take control of your life.