I’m dipping into my Q&A emails for this topic. A Halo Effect Fitness fan asked how she can get leaner, more defined legs without bulking up her quads and tush. This is a totally legitimate question. I get really irritated with trainers who tell women they can’t bulk up from lifting weights because they lack the testosterone to do so. Bullcrap! Building muscle mass without lowering your body fat will produce more bulk because non-essential body fat is generally located over your muscle tissue, and will be pushed out by incoming muscle tissue. (Non-Essential body fat is the fat we carry in our bodies not critical for organ insulation and body temperature regulation.) Don’t get me wrong, I want you to have a good comprehensive strength training program, but when slimming down is the goal, you will need to have a high amount of cardio included into your routine.
Most people have heard that it really isn’t possible to “spot reduce” body fat. This is true. Your body is unique in the fact that where you store and lose fat first is mostly genetic. All the gals in my family have tiny little waists no matter what, but we all gain in the tush and thigh area. This is pretty common among women but there are plenty of us out there who will chubby it up at the waist or chest too. (why oh why wasn’t I one of those chest girls!) Unfortunately, the first place you gain fat is usually the last place you loose it from. Your body put the fat there and that’s where it wants it dang it! But you CAN win this battle. And here’s how…
Sorry folks but there is no getting around this one. Plan on spending a lot of time in the cardio world. The best way to tackle this beast is with variety. 2 reasons why you should change it up- 1. By varying your routine you are much less likely to to get bored and drop out. 2. By varying your modes of exercise you are alternating your moving muscle groups (remember that whole desire for definition thing.) When I talk about variety I also mean variety in your intensity. It’s okay to jump on that elliptical at the gym and mindlessly pedal away during a Kardashian’s show, but make sure you’re getting some good high intensity stuff like a cycling class, or a good tough hike too. Plan on doing some cardio 5 days a week. (GASP! Did she just say 5 days a week?!) Yes I did. And yes you do too have time. You don’t have to go to the gym to get in some cardio. Somewhere close to you, there is a road to be jogged on, a staircase to be climbed, or a rope to be jumped. You can get in some great cardio right at home in 20-30 minutes. If you can’t find 20-30 minutes a day to take care of yourself, you really need to take a long hard look at where your priorities are. Make the time to do it, or stay at your current state and learn to deal with it.
My fitness savvy people were probably expecting me to advise high rep, low weight strength training program to carve out your legs. NOPE. I’m advising explosive, multi-planar plyometric movements. (OMG what is she talking about??) Calm down, this is not complicated. Think about box jumps, burpies and stationary jumping lunges. These type of athletic explosive motions are what really begin to carve out your legs and keep that CARDIO rate nice and high. Burn baby burn! Hit up Halo Effect in the comment section in this blog for more info!
And now the most important part…
Your diet, more than anything else I have talked about above, is what is going to make those legs lean out. There are 5 golden rules I am going to briefly touch on.
EAT: Your body is storing that fat. You need to give your body a constant supply of nutritious food and not let yourself go hungry. As we went over in the last blog, if you make your body think it is starving, it will NOT let go of that fat.
DRINK: Water that is… Water is essential to all bodily functions and can greatly help when improving your body fat ratio because it helps your body better flush out waste materials. The minimum you should be drinking in ounces can be calculated by taking your weight in pounds and dividing that by 2. If you are getting in a good workout multiply that number by 1.5.
NO JUNK CARBS: Notice I did not say low carb. Get rid of white rice, potatoes, white bread or tortillas and plain pasta and sugary foods. Toss out those STUPID 100 calorie packs of crap. Yeah they are 100 calories, but they are EMPTY calories with little nutritional value. No bread basket with dinner. Get the point here? Instead, DO eat whole grains a little earlier in the day. Whole wheat bread, pasta and tortillas are readily available at any grocery store. Try to lay off the “bready” carbs at dinner time and make friends with sweet potatoes and squash instead.
LOVE YOUR VEGGIES: You can have as much of these non-starchy varieties as you like. They are high nutrient and high fiber. Experiment with different cooking methods and spices. I like to keep a big bag at work filled with chopped carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. I can mindlessly munch whenever I want.
KNOW YOUR GOOD FATS: Avocado, whole eggs, olive oil, raw nuts & seeds are your friends, but don’t over do it! It is not ok to have a whole avocado in one sitting! You do need these fats to encourage your body to release the stored fats in your body and not cling to them. I would also look into getting a good high quality fish oil in your diet.
So off you go! Be sure to hit me up in the comment box if you have questions or want more info from me. I LOVE hearing from you all!
Health and Happiness,