Having a pair of ripped thighs can add shape to your body and improve the symmetry of your physique. If you want to make the muscles more ripped and defined, you have to make them grow and decrease your body fat percentage. Get your legs ready for shorts weather by including specialized leg training in your workout routine and modifying your diet to lose body fat.
Training Your Legs
Take time to train your legs separately from any other muscle group. Include exercises that target each muscle in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Lift enough weight to challenge your muscles; completing 12 repetitions should be difficult. Allow 24 to 48 hours between leg workouts.
Exercises for Thighs
There are two main muscles in your thighs. Your hamstrings, which go down the back of your leg, and your quadriceps, which go down the front. To work your thigh muscles, it's best to use weighted exercises that stimulate your muscles to grow.
Begin your leg workouts with compound exercises that recruit multiple muscles at the same time to stimulate development. Perform exercises such as the leg press, barbell squats and deadlifts to work your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves at the same time. Execute each exercise for four sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
1. Barbell Squats
The barbell squat works your quadriceps and glutes. Including your glutes in the exercise actually helps you put more stress on your quadriceps because you can use more weight.
HOW TO DO IT: Place your hands six inches wider than shoulder-width on a bar. Duck under the bar and put it across your upper back, just above your shoulder blades. Stand up with the bar on your back and set your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit your butt back and squat down without letting your back round. Then, drive your heels into the ground and stand up.
2. Barbell Deadlifts
Deadlifts work your hamstrings and glutes. Combining these with squats will work both sides of your thighs.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with a barbell on the ground. Put weight plates on the bar so that it's raised off the ground. Walk up to the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stick your butt back, keep your back flat and grip the bar with your hands outside your legs.
After heavy compound exercises, it's time to move on to accessory movements. These exercises use less weight but isolate the thigh muscles more to help them grow. They also correct any imbalances or asymmetries. Use exercises like leg extensions, lying hamstring curls, seated hamstring curls, single-leg squats and single-leg deadlifts. Perform each exercise for three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
1. Single-Leg Squats
Besides challenging your ability to balance on one leg, this exercise works one leg at a time, which lets you correct asymmetries in your thigh muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of a bench. Hold five-pound weights in your hands. Stand on one leg and slowly sit down on the bench. As you sit down, reach the dumbbells in front of you. Stay on the same leg, lean forward, and stand back up. As you stand up, lower the dumbbells down to your sides.
2. Single-Leg Deadlift
Much like the single-leg squat, this exercise challenges your balance and works each leg individually.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand on one leg with a dumbbell in each hand. Kick the leg you're not using back towards the wall behind you. Lean over with your torso until the weights in your hands are around the middle of your shin. Then, stand up to complete one repetition.
3. Post-Workout Cardio
Include 40 to 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise after lifting weights when your glycogen levels are depleted, so your body is more likely to turn to stored fat as a fuel source. Ride the stationary bike at a fast pace with light resistance, pedal on the elliptical machine at a fast pace with light resistance or walk at an incline on the treadmill. Engage in cardio workouts five to six days per week.
Follow a healthy diet to help you shed body fat. Consume low-fat protein, such as fish, lean meats, skinless chicken, ground turkey, eggs, nuts and legumes, to help rebuild and repair your muscles.
Eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits to provide your body with a source of energy and improve your performance during workouts.
Remember that if you want to burn fat you need to burn more calories than you consume. Use a calorie calculator like MyPlate to track how much you're eating and what the nutritional content of your food is. Tracking food will make it easier to figure out how many calories you need to burn each day.
- ExRx.net: Thigh Exercise Menu
- Edge Hill University: Electromyographic activity in four superficial muscles of the thigh and hip during performance of the back squat to three different depths with relative loading.
- Acta Physiologica Hungaria: Cycle training induces muscle hypertrophy and strength gain: strategies and mechanisms