As the obesity epidemic continues to spread, more people are interested in losing weight. A common trouble spot, particularly for women, is the legs. While it is not possible to confine all weight loss to the legs or to any other particular body part, it is possible to target problem areas. The most practical approach to losing fat in the legs is to combine a dietary program with an exercise regimen that focuses on lower body movements.
Set a goal for steady, realistic downsizing of the legs. Select a goal that, while challenging, is reasonably attainable. Unrealistic goals lead to discouragement and frustration, which in turn lead to failure.
Measure both legs, upper and lower, with a tape measure. Record the dimensions as precisely as possible, taking care to note the precise location where the measuring taped was placed.
Establish a diet that will provide 200 – 300 fewer daily calories than currently consumed. Minimize saturated fats and high calorie foods, which frequently lead to fat storage in the legs.
Establish a leg exercise program that will burn the number of additional calories needed to achieve the goal. Include leg weight training exercises three days a week. Choose lifts that target the upper and lower legs, such as squats, lunges, leg curls, and leg extensions.
On non-lifting days, perform vigorous aerobic exercise that targets leg muscles. Examples include jogging, biking, and aerobics.
Measure the legs on a weekly basis, taking care to place the measuring tape at the same location each time. Chart all findings.
Tips & Warnings
- While conventional wisdom holds that aerobic exercise is needed to maximize weight loss, weight lifting, when performed for weight loss purposes, can equal or excel the effects of aerobic workouts. Weight training also complements the loss of fat with increased muscle tone and definition.
- When selecting leg lifts, choose exercises that require multi-joint motions, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts.
- With leg weight exercises, use moderately heavy weights, meaning those that can be lifted 10 – 20 times in a set. Keep rest time between sets to one minute or less.
- Exercise the front and back muscles of the legs. The back muscles, called hamstrings, are easily overlooked, but can be vigorously exercised with stiff legged deadlifts and machine based leg curls.
- In formulating the dietary portion of the program, maximize dietary fiber intake. Dietary fiber brings a variety of additional health benefits and also provides a feeling of fullness that will minimize urges to snack.
- Consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
- Proper form is critical when performing leg lifts. Failure to maintain strict form when performing leg lifts such as squats and lunges can easily lead to lower back injuries.
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