When you see pictures of Halle Berry, it is quite clear she works very hard for her incredible body.
Her various movie roles, Catwoman, X-Men and most recently her role in her upcoming MMA drama, Bruised, have kept her motivation high for staying in shape, specifically, she has an impressive set of pins.
So how can you build strong, lean legs like Halle?
Research has shown time and time again that resistance training is so beneficial for fat loss and for building muscle and shape in your body. So ladies, don’t be afraid to push your legs frequently with weight training, it’s a sure way of leaning and “toning” your legs.
To get you started, we have included a workout below of some key leg exercises that are challenging and will work all parts of the leg musculature.
Remember to choose a weight that is challenging to you individually and you can do with good form for the desired rep ranges.
Why This Workout Works
Developed by UP’s elite personal trainers, this workout aims to hit all parts of the leg with high volume, to build strength and muscle as well as cut fat and lean the legs out.
We start the workout with bigger movements like squats and deadlifts and then taper down to accessory work and conditioning.
This is not for the faint-hearted! You will feel challenged.
Barbell Back Squat
When performed correctly, this exercise is one of the most effective when it comes to leg training. Working the quads, hamstrings, and glutes whilst also strengthening your joints, ligaments and tendons around the knee and hips.
Not only does this build the legs, but it will also improve your core activation. It is a compound movement with lots of muscles involved, so it has an added benefit of high-calorie expenditure, leading to a stronger, leaner physique.
An amazing posterior chain exercise, if performed correctly. It is a brilliant hip hinge movement where you can really load the hamstrings and glutes and build shape in the back of your legs without placing too much stress on your joints.
One ‘pro-tip’ is to try and keep the bar as close to your legs as possible as you push your hips back. Think about trying to tap a wall behind you with your glutes while maintaining a neutral spine.
Wide-Stance Leg Press
Using a wider/higher stance on the leg press places emphasis on the inner muscles of the thigh and encourages the glutes and hamstrings to work more in the press.
The leg press allows you to load your legs in a fixed pattern of movement, so it is relatively safe and requires less stabilisation.
This means you can lift heavy safely and you can adjust the weight of your lifting very quickly.
If your goal is leaner legs, the leg press is excellent because you can push yourself with shorter rest periods, adding heavier weight each set and not have to worry too much about losing your form. Just focus on keeping your glutes glued to the seat and don’t lock out those knees!
Barbell Hip Thrusts
Often seen as the king of glute exercises, as it’s designed to improve the strength, size and power of the glutes. A lot of exercises like squats and deadlifts won’t maximise hip extension so we cannot fully engage our glutes – enter the hip thrust.
Including these in the session will help you develop shapely glutes, not only aiding you in your quest for leaner legs, but stronger glutes will also improve core strength and posture, aiding you in other exercises.
When trying to shape the lower body – walking lunges are an excellent exercise that challenges your balance, helps strengthen each leg unilaterally, improves flexibility in the hip and works your glutes, quads and hamstrings hard.
This is quite an advanced movement because of its dynamic nature and it requires hip and knee stability, so it is also excellent for conditioning, and can challenge your cardiovascular system as well as your muscles.
Leg Curls (Lying)
Lying leg curls isolate your hamstrings, which are usually under trained compared to the quads. We are looking for a balance of muscle in the legs and this is one exercise which can help us achieve that goal.
This exercise is low impact, and we have added it in the tail end of the workout to really burn out the hamstrings and get in a little bit of calf work too.
Such an important and forgotten muscle that contributes to preventing knee and hip pain – also they help get a tight and toned backside!
The abductors are located around your glutes and outside of your thighs below the hips.
When you push your hips out and squeeze your glutes, you will feel them all working together.
Again an important exercise to include for shapely well-rounded glutes.
How to Perform the Exercises
This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively.
If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching today or consult a qualified PT.