Most women, no matter how active they are, have stronger quads than hamstrings and glutes. Think about your typical lower-body workout—most movements have some involvement from the quads. If you know your lower half needs work, don’t hesitate to work your legs twice per week.
Concentrate on the weakest parts of your legs. You don’t need to do any isolation exercises for your quads. They get enough work from compound movements such as squats and lunges. Annihilate your glutes and hamstrings to increase their strength and symmetry to match your quads.
Do straight sets of each of these exercises, resting only long enough to catch your breath, then go right into the next set. Use a moderately heavy weight if you’re trying to maintain and chisel or a heavy weight if you’re trying to build and define.
|Dumbbell Sumo Squat*||4||21|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||10 per leg|
|Stability Ball Wall Squat||4||12|
|Bench-Assisted Sissy Squat||4||15|
|Switch Lunge + Air Squat Bonus||4/4||12/12|
This is done in drop-set format, starting with the heaviest weight for seven reps and using decreasing weight for the next two sets of seven reps each.
Dumbbell Sumo Squat:
Draw your shoulders down and back to help keep your weight centered and your heels on the ground.
- Stand with your legs double shoulder-width apart, legs turned out from your hips.
- Hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of you, arms straight, and draw your shoulders back.
- Bend your knees, tracking them over your toes as you lower into a deep squat.
- When your hip crease breaks parallel, rise back to the start and squeeze your glutes at the top.
Bulgarian Split Squat:
Don’t pitch forward with your upper body; stand up tall and straight to best work your glutes.
- Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand several feet away from a flat bench with your back to the bench.
- Extend one leg behind you, placing it laces down on top of the bench, and center your weight between your feet.
- Lower until your hip is even with or slightly below your front knee and your rear knee almost touches the floor.
- Reverse the move and rise to the start.
- Do all reps on one side before switching.
Stability-Ball Wall Squat:
Your torso should stay upright the entire time. If you find you’re leaning forward, try moving the ball down a bit more between the wall and your back at the start.
- Place a stability ball between a wall and your mid-back and step your feet forward about a foot so you can see your toes in front of your knees if you look down.
- Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand tall so your torso is vertical.
- Bend your knees and roll the ball down the wall, descending until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Reverse the move and rise to the start, squeezing your glutes at the top.
Bench-Assisted Sissy Squat:
The only thing moving for this exercise should be your knees, bending and flexing like they would in a leg-extension machine.
- Stand next to an upright bench and grasp it with your nearest hand.
- Shift your hips forward while keeping your back straight and rise up off your heels slightly.
- Your body should make a straight line from your knees to your head.
- Maintain this straight line as you bend your knees and lower them toward the floor in front of you slowly, levering on the balls of your feet until your shins are about parallel to the floor.
- Reverse the move and rise back to the start.
Think of yourself as a spring, coiling and exploding with each repetition. Try to string the reps together evenly, and remember to breathe.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes turned out about 10 degrees.
- Lower into a deep squat where your hip crease comes below your knees, and reach your arms forward.
- Explode up out of that squat and leap into the air as high as you can, throwing your arms backward and generating as much upward force as you can.
- Land softly and repeat right away.
This move is pretty aerobic, so remember to breathe and rest enough so that you’re fully recovered before starting your next set.
- Stand with your feet in a wide split stance with your arms reaching straight forward from your shoulders.
- Bend your knees and lower into a deep lunge, keeping your forward knee over your toes and your torso erect.
- Explode out of that deepest point, leaping into the air and switching lead legs at your apex.
- Land with your opposite leg forward and go immediately into the next repetition.
- Set up two cones 25 meters apart in a wide open space.
- Stand next to one cone with one foot forward, one foot back, up on your toes and ready to explode out of the “blocks.”
- Sprint as fast as you can, pumping your arms and driving forward with your knees to speed from one cone to the other.
- Walk and catch your breath, then repeat.