What Machines are Effective for Toning Up The Lower Body?

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question-icon-newI would like to know what workout machines I can use to build muscle and tone up my lower body (legs, butt, thighs)?

answer-icon-newThere are a number of machines that will provide a great workout for your lower body but I would like point out the importance of including free weights into your exercise routine if you really want to develop your legs, butt and thighs. One of the benefits of using free weights like barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells is that they offer a much wider range of exercises to target your lower body. You can choose from countless variations of exercises when you use dumbbells such as walking lunges, one leg lunges, step-ups using a bench, dumbbell squats, bent leg deadlifts for your hamstrings and many other exercises by using just 2 basic dumbbells. If you use a machine such as the leg press, you are limited in the amount of variations for that specific exercise.

The price of machines versus free weights is also another big factor. If you workout at the gym, then you really don’t have to worry about this but if you like to train at home then price definitely plays a big role in your decision. For example, a leg press machine might cost you $1,000 to $2,500 if you wanted to add this to your home gym. And that’s for just one piece of equipment. Compare this to a set of 3 dumbbells at about $100 to $200 and you can see the large amount of money you can save by buying a few free weights versus a big machine.

Size if also another major factor when you compare free weights to machines. You can get a great lower body workout using a couple of small kettlebells which take up very little space when compared to a big machine like a Smith Machine squat rack which would fill up a home gym room very quickly. You can easily put your kettlebells or dumbbells in the closet or set them in a corner of the room and out of the way until the next time you want to pick them up and get in a quick workout. You also only need to buy 3-4 different weights with kettlebells or dumbbells to get a very good lower body workout in. For example, women could use a 5, 10 and 20 pound kettlebell and have everything they need to do many different muscle building exercises. Guys can choose a 10, 25 and 50 pound dumbbell and be ready to get after it. Kettlebells are extremely versatile and really allow you to mix and match hundreds of different exercises into your workout routine.

toned-butt-legsSo, now that I have discussed the different tools you can use to get a great workout, lets now talk about the best exercises you can use to add muscle and tone up your legs, butt and thighs. The number one exercise I recommend for building up the legs is the barbell squat. This is the king of all exercises for the lower body and one that you definitely want to include in your leg workout. For building up and toning your butt, the best exercise to use is dumbbell walking lunges. If you have not done walking lunges before, get ready to be seriously sore in your buttocks a few days after your workout. You can also do dumbbell lunges where you stand in one place and lunge onto one leg and then come back up to the same spot and do another lunge using the other leg. Dumbbell step-ups onto a bench is another great butt toning exercises to add to a workout which targets your glutes very well.

For specific machines to use for your lower body instead of free weights, the top three ones to include are Smith Machine squats, 45-degree leg press machine and the hack squat machine. These exercises will really target your legs and butt very well and you will be able to add enough weight on them to build up quality muscle mass. Another very good leg machine to mention is the seated leg press machine where you sit at a regular 90-degree angle and have an adjustable stack of weights to choose from. This is different from the 45-degree leg press machine where you manually load the weight plates on it before performing the exercise. You can view samples of all of these lower body exercises and hundreds more using ShapeFit’s huge database of exercise guides to see exactly how to perform these various movements.

For all of the women reading this article, don’t get frightened when I recommend these multi-joint compound muscle building exercises to tone up your legs, butt and thighs. A popular fitness myth is that if a woman even touches a free weight, they will automatically get buff and pack on enough muscle mass to make Schwarzenegger jealous. Ladies, let me assure you that this simply is not going to happen. Women do not have the amount of testosterone (hormone that builds muscle) needed to pack on muscle like guys do. So, even if you workout super hard with heavy free weights, you will not get huge! This is such a bad fitness myth because so many women are missing out on the muscle toning benefits that weight training offers. Girls think that if they just do tons of cardio (jogging, running, etc.) they will be able to completely tone up their legs and butt to get an overall athletic and sexy looking lower body. Well, if you add barbell squats and dumbbell walking lunges to your running routine, you have a great overall workout plan to achieve these results since you will be able to build up lean muscle tissue from weight training and then burn off the excess fat around the muscle with cardio exercise to give you that sexy and toned look.

For the women out there that are carrying a little extra weight, you need to understand that just doing weight training workouts for your lower body is not enough to strip off the excess fat from your legs, butt and thighs. You need to include additional cardio exercise in order to burn the extra calories and strip the fat off of the area to attain great results. Along with cardio, your diet is extremely important when it comes to reaching your goals of getting a lean and toned body. I highly recommend reading this Nutrition 101 article to learn all about which foods to include in your diet plan to fuel your body correctly so you can optimize it for building muscle and burning fat!

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