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In my early first few years of training at the gym, my ultimate all-around goal was to build a symmetrical, lean and muscular physique. Many people shy away from training legs because it’s uncomfortable to train them with intensity and because they’re a larger body part, it requires more energy in comparison to other body parts. I made a conscious decision to “enjoy” training legs (fake it till you make it) and deliberately set out to build the leanest, sexiest legs possible!

Incinerating calories is an exceptional byproduct of serious leg training, not to mention the building and development of more lean muscle tissue which also simultaneously aids in the fat-burning effect. The largest muscles in the body are at work when you train legs and that can equate to a mega fat burn when you combine that with the right training principles and exercise combinations which means you can get explosive results!

I like to warm up by doing jump squats during leg day and prior to loading squats. I often will also perform a plyo set with the Olympic bar as a drop set – I don’t recommend loading more than that. You want explosiveness with safety and you want to be mindful of the fact that adding loads means added stress to the knees and you need to incorporate perfect form along with soft landings. Instead of going heavier on the loads when doing plyometrics, add more reps after a pre-exhaustion set.

An effective way to lean down the legs is to perform drop sets, successively lowering the weight and reps for 3 sets and then finishing off with plyometric jump squats for max reps. This provides a mega burn for ultimate shaping and accelerating the leaning down process.

As previously mentioned above, this technique has you working a muscle group to failure. You perform an exercise such as leg extensions and then immediately move to perform another secondary movement such as squats, to exhaust and burn out the muscle further.

Training is predominately mental, first and foremost. The body is designed to give up at the first sign of discomfort and it is the mind that needs to decide to push beyond that point.

Whenever I want an even greater cardio effect, I turn to HIIT. Interspersing some max cardio intervals throughout your workout is an effective way to elevate your fat-burning potential while also providing a thermogenic boost that will elevate your metabolism and burn calories long after your training is done.

A simple example of this is to insert 1-minute treadmill intervals at or near your max level throughout your weight training workout. You can also switch it up and set the incline on the treadmill to max capability/15 and determine a level that will enable you to get through the full 60 sec. Strive for at least 3 of these interval sets throughout your workout.

Partial/Micro Reps
I will often add small pulse reps at the end of the range of motion in an exercise for that ultra burn. This can be done at the very end of the set or interspersed within the set.

Compound Sets
Combining two back-to-back different exercises for the same body part to produce maximum blood flow and muscle pump. The goal is to overexert and overload the same muscle group for increased challenge.

Keep up the pace!
You’re wasting no time here! The goal is to get through your workout in the minimum amount of time possible. You need to move relatively quickly from one exercise to the next, utilizing active and partial recovery. This means you’re not sitting and waiting for your heart rate to come back down to normal, but rather, you’re moving and stretching in between sets. You are aiming for semi-recovery; think 5-6 on the perceived exertion scale.

Yes, there is a place for full recovery in the muscle-building phase of a periodized program but in this case, we are striving for a fat-burn effect to produce a lean legs effect while sculpting.

Legs & Abs Intense Workout taken from my CHALLENGE 2023 program

Instinctive Training
This is a significant overriding staple training principle for me. Once you’ve been training for a long period of time, you begin to get a deeper sense of what your body needs and responds to. We are all unique and only you know what is working best for your body and it is a case of trial and error and pushing to determine that. I have often said that no one exercise will ever feel good for everybody. It’s up to you to make adjustments accordingly and determine what works best for you.

Training is predominately mental, first and foremost. The body is designed to give up at the first sign of discomfort and it is the mind that needs to decide to push beyond that point. If I set out to do a set of 20 leg extensions and by the end of the set I can do more, I will often add some partial reps followed by full ROM and then an isometric 10-20 sec hold, for example.

The final reps of a set are potentially when the biggest and most substantial changes will often occur. It is pushing beyond the intense burn; the point at which you want to give up but you dig deep in your mind and decide to push beyond that. The fact is, you can always do more than you think you can. You need to dig deep and discipline yourself to override your feelings.

Essentially, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you and the body is brilliant at quickly adapting so we need to learn to push, get creative with training to continue to mix things up to facilitate progress and growth.

Here’s an effective and quick leg workout for you below.

My ALL NEW Challenge 2023 program is a SCULPTING AND FAT BURNING KILLER! Available through HERE

Cover Photo By: Arsenik Studios

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Susan has been training for over 40 years. She is a 6-time Fitness/Figure champion, a mom of 2, a workout creator and co-owner of SusanArrudaFitness, a personal trainer, swim coach, fitness model and author. Susan is passionate about training and living an active, healthy lifestyle and has been exercising since age 10.

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