The ultimate legs workout for women

Whether you’re looking for long and lean or athletic and toned, these workout routines will strengthen any woman’s legs

The ultimate legs workout for women

Source: Web exclusive: August 2010

Skip ahead to the workouts! Do you want long and lean legs or athletic and toned legs?

How your legs work

The quadriceps ("quads") (front thigh) is the most powerful muscle group of the lower limbs. As indicated by its name, the quads consist of four muscle bellies (sections). The rectus femoris is the most common muscle of this group. The other three muscles are the vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis.

‘ Hip flexion (brings thigh closer to chest)
‘ Knee extension (straightens the knee from bent)
‘ Maintains the correct tracking of the kneecap
‘ Small role in rotating the tibia (side bone of the lower leg)
‘ Involved with ensuring proper walking mechanics of the thigh, knee and pelvis

The hamstrings (back thigh) is a group of three muscles, bicep femoris (long and short head), semitendinosus and semimembranosus.

‘ Hip extension (brings thigh back)
‘ Knee flexion (bends the leg at the knee joint, bringing heel closer to butt)
‘ Help counterbalance the movements of the quadriceps, especially when the knee is straightening when walking 
‘ Small role in medially (inward) and laterally (outward) rotating the lower leg when the knee is bent

The adductors (inner thigh) is a group of five muscles: the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus and gracilis.

‘ Brings the leg toward the centre line of the body
‘ Flex, laterally or medially rotate the hip to a lesser degree

The abductors (outer thigh) are the gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus medius and minimus. (Check out our butt workout for tips on developing these muscles.)

‘ Pulls thigh away from the body sideways

What are your goals?

Are you looking to make your legs look long and lean or athletic and toned? Click through for the legs workout that’s right for you.

Exercises are to be done two or three times a week on non-consecutive days for four weeks. Combine walking, jogging, cycling or climbing the stairs in your home for 20-45 minutes three to five times a week for the results you desire.

To increase the challenge, increase the intensity (reps or sets) or the difficulty (beginner-advanced).

Rest options:
Option 1: Rest 30 seconds between sets. Once sets are completed for that exercise, move onto the next exercise.
Option 2: Do exercises A, B and C one after the other with no rest between exercises. Once completed, rest 30-45 seconds and repeat the circuit. This will keep your heart rate high and your metabolism constantly burning those pesky unwanted calories.

Try the workouts!

Long and lean
Athletic and toned

Jesseny Rojas is a personal trainer who uses a multi-disciplinary approach to empower individuals with a sense of ownership over their health, fitness and overall well-being.