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Health and Fitness Tips

Legs of Steel

Winter is the perfect time to work on your legs - get them ready for next summer. This article will focus on building your leg muscles so that onlookers will be surprised at your finely sculpted legs.

Understanding the Leg Muscles: More than 200 muscles make up the lower body, the vast majority of them in the thighs, hips, and buttocks. It would be impossible to deal with every one of these often small muscles, so I will focus on only a few.

Leg Extensions
Emphasis: This is the best quadriceps isolation movement, and it is used by most body sculptors primarily to rip up the front thigh muscles. The entire quadriceps muscle mass is stressed in isolation from the rest of the body.

Starting Position: There is a wide variety of leg extensions machines, but the movement performance is almost identical on each apparatus. Sit in the machine with the backs of your knees against the edge of the padded surface of the machine toward the lever arm. Slip your toes and instep under the lower set of roller pads (if there are two sets). With your legs bent at a 90-degree angle or greater, grasp the handles provided beside your hips or the edges of the padded surface to brace your body in position for the movement.

Movement Performance: Use quadriceps strength to move your feet forward and upward in a semicircular arc to a position in which your legs are straight. Hold this peak-contracted position for a moment before slowly returning your feet back along the same arc to the starting point. Repeat for ten repetitions and a total of three sets.

Training Tip: Normally, you will do leg extensions with your toes pointing directly forward, but for a different quadriceps effect, you can angle your toes either inward or outward at approximately 45-degree angles. You can also perform leg extensions with one leg at a time, which automatically increase training intensity on your quadriceps.

Standing Leg Curls
Emphasis: Using one leg at a time, you can isolate stress to the biceps femoris muscle of each leg.

Starting Position: Stand facing toward the machine and hook your right heel under the roller pad. Your right knee should be pressed against the restraint pad in front of it. Straighten your leg and grasp the machine to restrain your upper body as you do the movement.

Movement Performance: Use leg biceps strength to curl the roller pad up to a position in which your leg is as fully bent as possible. Hold this peak-contracted position for a moment, then return to the starting point. Repeat for ten repetitions and a total of three sets.

Training Tip: Try angling your toes differently to allow various effects on your hamstrings.

Building great legs takes time and effort. To increase the size of your legs, carefully increase the weights. Be careful not to over-do-it, and good luck.

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed