I have found over the years of helping people lose weight in the gym that most men and women don’t have a solid exercise plan. They have a general idea of what they want to do in the gym and what they think would be good for the night.
Often times, we head to the gym because we feel like we must. But you must know what you’re doing when you go. You need to say to yourself, “ok it’s Monday and today I’m going to focus on doing this and that.”
Let’s take my gym schedule as an example. Today is Monday for me and it’s the day that I work out my legs and only my legs. And today I’m going to be sharing with you the exact exercises I do to build muscle and keep myself lean. Throughout the week I will be writing more exercises detailing what I do for each visit. Bookmark this site and follow along for the next week.
Always begin weight lifting exercises with very low weight to warm your muscles up and prevent injury.
1. The Squat
Whenever I take on a new client at the gym or in the club, the first exercise I get them started on is the squat. It works the thighs, the butt, the hips, the hamstrings. All these muscles working together creates a nice fat burning environment.
This is an exercise that both men and women should be doing in the gym. I start off my Monday leg workouts with the squat. For women, it’s great for developing lean legs and a great butt. For men, this exercise is foundational in that it helps develop overall strength throughout the body.
I’ve noticed that most women are very hesitant to do any weight lifting. Maybe it’s the fear of looking like a body builder. All I know is that women that DO squats week in and week out ALWAYS tend to have amazing bodies and this is not a coincidence.
This exercise is great for burning fat as well. You’re engaging your primary leg muscles which are some of the biggest muscles in your entire body. Your body is using lots of energy to do this exercise compared to other simple exercises like jogging on a tread mill. Exercises that use more muscles at once tend to burn more fat than single muscle exercises.
Do the squat at least once per week. Start off with low weight. I recommend that women start with only the 45 pounds bar at first. Men can probably start around the 75 to 85 pound mark. Also be sure to use either a towel to protect your neck or buy yourself a bar cover. It will make this exercise much more comfortable.
2. The Leg Press
This next exercise is what I do immediately after the squat. This is another powerful leg exercise that engages your butt, thighs, calves, hips and hamstrings. Though not as powerful as the squat, it is still an essential exercise to do for your leg day.
This exercise is fairly easy. The most difficult aspect is adding and removing weight. As you get stronger and stronger in the legs, you’re going to start adding more and more 45 pounders to each side. There are some men I see doing around 600 pounds on this machine. Talk about strength.
Overall this is a great strength building exercise and you’ll notice your strength improving greatly week after week. I remember when I first started doing leg presses I could only do around 150. By the 4th week of doing these I was already up to 260 pounds. That’s a pretty big increase in strength and it goes to show how quickly your legs strengthen.
As I said, do this immediately after the squats. I do 5 sets of around 7-10 reps. Start off with light weight. Add more weight if you’re able to complete 10 reps per set without struggling. Record the amount of weight that you do and build on that next week when you do these again.
3. Leg Curls / Leg Extensions
By the time that I’ve finished doing the squats and the leg press, I usually pick one of these two exercises: either the leg curls or the leg extensions. Leg curls work your hamstrings and leg extensions work the quads. I usually do each one every other week. I don’t do both mainly due to time constraints. But you can most definitely do both if you have the time and the energy to do so.
Here is an image of what leg curls look like. Please ignore the lovely lady that you will soon look like if you do all of these leg exercises each and every week:
The leg curl machine comes in all sorts of different looks at gyms, but it generally has a bench that you lie down on your belly and a place holder for the back of your feet. The woman in the picture is at the half way mark of the exercise. You flex your legs upwards and then back down.
I find this exercise to be quite powerful on the hamstrings after I’ve done both squats and leg presses. By the time that I’ve finished doing 5 sets of these, it’s definitely difficult to walk for a few minutes.
Be sure to start off at a low weight when you begin because you can injure yourself using heavy weight without proper warm-up. This rule actually applies to all weight lifting exercises especially when you’ve got sore muscles.
The next exercise is the leg extension and I must thank wikipedia for the decent image they provide.
This is the other leg exercise that I do when I’m not doing hamstrings. This works the quads and works them well. You set your weight, place your feet and lift. It’s as simple as that.
This exercise is great for fat burning and toning. Do a lot of reps with low weight. I tend do to around 20 reps at 50 pounds. The squats and leg presses are enough heavy weight to give you big quads. Use this exercise to tone up your legs and burn that fat.
Besides these 4 exercises, you can also do calf raises. I don’t do them much anymore as I find the leg presses to be enough for them. But you very well may do a few sets of them if you wish to strengthen your calves (which is never a bad thing). A great exercise for calves is simply jumping up and down on your toes over and over again.
One last thought before I let you go: remember that lifting weights burns fat. I can’t remember the last time I ran on a treadmill or a bike. All I do is lift weight and I’m at 9% body fat. I want you women to understand this as fact. You NEED to get in the habit of lifting weights if you want to burn fat and lose weight quickly.
The other part of fat burning is diet. Now I don’t mean a diet where you cut calories out and eat less. You may have to depending on your lifestyle, but my favorite diets are always the ones that allow me to keep eating meats and carbs and the occasional pizza, ice cream and beer.
The program that worked for me and the one I’m still using is The Renegade Diet by Jason Ferruggia. If you’ve read my success story, this is the program that I mention there along with the muscle building program I currently use in the gym.
As always, comment below if you have questions or comments about the information here.
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