Sculpt Your Lower Body - Challenge Your Hips, Glutes and Thighs

Challenge Your Hips, Buns & Thighs

Woman doing a squat with a kettlebell
Getty Images/Adrianna Williams

If you're looking for lean, strong muscles there's no better way than weight training. But if you've been doing the same old exercises for longer than you can remember, why not challenge yourself?

When it comes to lower body exercises, it's often hard to use enough resistance to challenge the muscles without a spotter. That's where different types of training can help.  Changing how you lift weights is usually how you change your body.

Change How You Train

When lifting weights, most of us perform straight sets: performing an exercise for a certain number of sets and repetitions and a rest period in between each set.

Straight sets are fine, but don't they get boring?  Not only that, doing the same thing again and again puts us at risk for plateaus and think about this:  When you don't have a lot of time, those rest periods can be annoying.

Luckily, straight sets if just one way to train.  Other options include: :

  • Supersets - This type of training involves doing one exercise immediately followed by another without rest, either for the same muscle group or different muscle groups. Example: Squats followed by lunges.
  • Tri-sets - This involves doing three (!) different exercises for the same muscle group without rest, which really adds lots of great intensity to your workout. An example of this would be squats and lunges followed by bent knee deadlifts.
  • Pre-Exhaustion - This is like doing a superset in which the first set is an isolation exercise and the second is a multi-joint exercise. An example of this would be like doing a leg extension, a single joint exercise, followed by a squat, which involves more than one joint action.
  • Opposing Muscle Groups - This superset involves performing an exercise for one muscle followed by an exercise for the opposing muscle with no rest. If you're doing this type of training, you might do a squat followed by a deadlift.  Doing opposing muscle groups can eliminate the rest between sets, saving you time.
  • Pyramids/Triangles - This involves either increasing or decreasing your weight and reps with each set, a great way to pile on the intensity with each set.

For more info on training methods see Get Out of Your Rut.

Pyramids

For our purposes, let's focus on Pyramid Training and how to implement this into your own workout. 

  • Choose about 5-6 lower body exercises. How about these to start:
  • After a warm up, perform each exercise, starting with the heaviest weight you can manage for 16 reps.
  • For your next set, reduce the reps to 12 and increase your weight so that you can only do 12 reps.
  • For set 3, you'll use your heaviest weights, doing only 8 reps.
  • If you want more of a challenge, go up the pyramid for a total of 5 sets.
  • Rest very briefly between sets and for about a minute or so between exercises.
  • Feel the burn.

Your Pyramid Workout

If you want a ready-made workout, try this Lower Body Pyramid Workout.  In this workout you'll be performing 3-5 sets (depending on your fitness level) in which you increase your weights and decrease your reps with each set.

As with any workout, choose a weight that allows do all the reps, but the last two should be difficult (not impossible). Experiment with different weights and keep a workout log so you can increase the weight each week. Have fun!

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