If you’ve struggled to change the shape of your lower body for a long time, this article was written especially for you! Our Fitness Expert Libby Babet shows you how you can get gorgeous legs for summer!
Often when women start a training program with the aim of slimming down, they’ll see changes in overall body fat and notice a slimmer waist, tummy, arms and perhaps even (gasp!) bust… but those tricksy ol’ legs just don’t seem to budge! It’s at this point that a lot of us give up and decide we’re just not destined to have slim legs.
But even the most troublesome thighs and hips can be tamed! Here, we tell you the top 10 things you need to do to sculpt your ideal legs. Resizing, reshaping, elongating – it’s all possible!
Here we go!
1. Perform unilateral (1-legged) exercises with high reps and light weights – and move in multiple directions!
In my experience, this is super important. If you’re always using heavy weights and performing typical strength exercises like squats and deadlifts, you can end up looking a bit ‘stocky’ and feeling stiff. While it’s still important to use these metabolically demanding lifts as part of your program, mixing it up will help you reach your pintastic goal.
Examples: lunges (forward, backward, lateral, walking, 45-degree, shifting), one-legged deadlifts and one-legged hip/glute raises in various lift directions from your back, side and hands/knees. Remember to include plenty of multi-directional movement to keep your body guessing and keep your reps high!
2. Don’t be afraid to build muscle
Nature wants us to hold on to that leg, butt and hip jelly for dear life – it’s an in-built protection mechanism to help us feed our young in times of famine… sheesh! Building a little extra muscle can help your body shift things hormonally and ‘release’ long-term fat stores in the lower body. Yep, this means you may have to deal with your leg measurements increasing a little before they decrease. As long as you’re eating the right things and training correctly, this just means leaner pins are just around the corner, so hang in there!
3. Use interval training and plyometric drills
Forget long, slow runs and cycle classes. This can lead to fat storage in the thighs for girls prone to bigger legs. Why? Well, it’s complicated but basically your body gets used to this kind of exercise very quickly and becomes efficient at storing energy for endurance exercise where it needs it most (in the legs). Instead, you want to be doing short-burst, intense cardio like 50 or 100m sprints with walk/jog back recovery, swimming intervals, or stair runs. Plyometric drills like burpees, squat jumps, lunge jumps and bounds are all perfect for building lean legs too.
4. Steer clear of ALL trans fats – especially deep fried ‘things’!
Trans fats are really hard for your body to get rid of (the way they are bonded creates a ‘kink’, which makes the molecule very hard to pass through the body and eliminate) and are also very dangerous for your vital organs. So, if your body struggles to pass these fats out of your body, what does it do with them? Send them as far away from your vital organs as possible, of course. For women, this means the fat goes straight to our thighs, butts and hips and there it stays, for a VERY long time, until your body can break it down – this can take months, even years! See ya later hot chips…
5. Don’t touch soy products, unless you’re post-menopausal
Most of us know by now that soy products are oestrogenic (i.e. they mimic oestrogen in the body). This can be useful once menopause has been and gone but in younger women, often it just means bigger lower bodies. So ditch this ‘health’ food now and watch your legs slim down. If you’re a frequent consumer, sometimes ditching soy is all it takes to get totally pintastic!
6. Eat and drink more greens
Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, rocket, brussel sprouts all have one thing in common – they’ll help flush excess oestrogens and toxins from your system and slim down your legs! If you can’t seem to fit more veggies into your day, a good supergreens powder will work too. Green tea has a thermogenic effect, so try switching from coffee to the green stuff for awhile and see what happens.
7. Be patient
It took me quite a few years of hard work and clean eating to really see dramatic changes in my legs – and most women I know are exactly the same. We see it happen all the time as trainers, girls give their training and health regimes everything and are so frustrated because the legs just aren’t coming along for the ride and then, a year or two into their program, BANG! Slim legs. Once you get them, it’s easy to keep them, so just be patient. I know, it’s hard!
8. Be consistent
Eating ‘well’ for a month, then letting go the next… training during summer, then sleeping in during the colder months… abstaining from drinking during the week and bingeing on wine and multiple sugary cocktails at the weekend. These things will not lead to results if you’re trying to create long, lean legs! You need to be consistent with your nutrition and training to really see results – that doesn’t mean being boring, or skipping treats altogether, just stick to eating right 80% of the time, all the time, and the results will speak for themselves!
9. Do yoga, tai chi, myofascial release, or dance
It’s easy to forget how important stretching and release work is for your body – it’s so important if you’re chasing a longer, leaner look for your legs. Make sure you include 1-2 yoga or dance classes in your weekly training regime, or just be dedicated to stretching frequently throughout your day. A short stretch, bend and rotate session at your desk every 30-60 minutes can work wonders!
10. Keen to get started?
You don’t need a gym to get Pintastic – try our all-bodyweight session on for size, complete with a video demo. Have fun, enjoy the process of getting fitter and remember to take a moment to be grateful for the functioning, fabulous legs you’ve got and all the wonderful places they can take you ;)
Set your stopwatch and complete 60 seconds on each of the exercises below, or 30s per leg for the unilateral (1-sided) exercises. At the end of the circuit, take one minute’s rest before repeating a further 3-5 times. Check out my video below for the correct technique.
1. Plie Squat to Toe Balance
2. Kneeling Kick & Tuck
3. Clock Lunges
4. Jane Fonda Lateral Leg Lifts
5. 1-Legged Burpees
6. 20m Shuttle Sprints