Health & Fitness

How to a get curvy, toned lower body

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Evelyn Sally Kamau doing leg press during her training session at the Avi Fitness on October 21, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • A fitness trainer at Active Virgin says that having a lean and toned lower body requires a combination of cardio and strength workouts.
  • The founder of Eveal Health and Fitness, explains that glutes are the largest muscle group in the posterior chain providing strength for the lower body.
  • For one to boast an enhanced, toned and firm butt and thighs then there is a combination of exercises that are required to achieve the look.

Having a lean and perfectly toned lower body is every woman’s dream. Exercises that target the muscles in the lower body, can help one achieve this.

Evelyn Sally Kamau, a fitness trainer at Active Virgin (AV) Fitness in Kilimani, Nairobi, says that having a lean and toned lower body requires a combination of cardio and strength workouts.

She explains that the hamstring, quadriceps (quads), and glutes are the main muscles found in the lower body especially in the butt and thigh area.

Evelyn Okinyi Owala, the founder of Eveal Health and Fitness, explains that glutes are the largest muscle group in the posterior chain providing strength for the lower body.

The glutes are made up of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus and the three muscles work together to provide mobility to the lower body, improving hip extension, and rotation.

For one to boast an enhanced, toned and firm butt and thighs then there is a combination of exercises that are required to achieve the look.

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Evelyn Sally Kamau doing a conventional deadlift during her training session at the Avi Fitness on October 21, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Evelyn advocates for balancing cardio and strength training that in as much as cardio is important for fat loss, to ensure that this does not leave one with loose skin, strength training is crucial as it will grow muscles to give one a leaner look because muscles are more compact and occupies lesser space.

“We have demystified that weight training makes a woman look like a man. Many women will do cardio exercises fearing that lifting weights will make them masculine. Losing fat without replacing them with muscles leads to excess skin known as cellulite which women suffer from.”

Squats

A squat is the king of lower body exercises because it targets the glutes and quads better than many other moves.

The exercise, she says, sculpts the back of the thighs while lifting and toning the butt at the same time. The squat primarily works the two important muscles while bracing the core by breathing in and holding it while doing the movements work on the core, commonly known as the abdominal muscles.

“For anyone who is targeting to grow as well as tone the thighs and the butt, there is no way you can escape the squats,” says Ms Kamau.

There are different types of squats like the front, back, barbell back squat, and Bulgarian with each targeting specific muscles.

The front squat works the anterior chain areas which include the quads; back squats targets the posterior chain working the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back while Bulgarian is quad dominant.

“Technique is important. Get your thighs parallel to the ground, the core braced, chest out, back straight, and face forward and drive your weight into your heels. Come up to a standing position as you raise the weight up and overhead. Repeat 15 times,” says Ms Kamau.

“When squatting weight-free, 10 to 15 reps is enough for a beginner and once you perfect the technique then you can move to use weights which will mean reduced reps of between 8 and 10 reps,” she adds.

Glute kickback

The exercise completely isolates the gluteus maximus muscle that is dominant in the butt area helping grow and tone it.

This exercise consistently applies pressure on the gluteus maximus muscle by isolating it as one lifts the weight on the machine using the legs while in a prone position.

“Ladies if you do want your butt, not to sag then you must train the glute muscle. Just like any other muscles, you can grow it just like men grow their biceps and triceps.”

Hip Thrusts

Evelyn says that hip thrusts work the glute muscles as well as the hamstrings as one lifts the weight up. However, it can also be done weight-free.

Performing the exercise, she explains that one can find an elevated place to rest the shoulders facing up. Then in that position, lift the hip to the table-top level while squeezing the glute muscles which work on the butt.

“Do 12 to 15 reps with manageable weights. If you want to lift more, you add more weight but with fewer reps,” she says.

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Evelyn Sally Kamau during her training session at the Avi Fitness on October 21, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Romanian or stiff-leg deadlift

This is also a glute-targeted exercise as lifting weight while the legs are stiff means that one will entirely depend on the glute muscle to drive the weight.

According to Evelyn, the deadlift is the most compound movement in the gym and has several variations but the most common ones are conventional and Romanian deadlift.

“You can fail to do anything in the gym, but not deadlift. It is key because as you deadlift, you target the quads, hamstrings, and lower back,” says Ms Kamau.

Ms Owala adds that deadlift is a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, torso perpendicular to the floor, before being placed back on the ground.

Leg Extension

The exercise involves using a leg extension machine to lift the weight while in a sitting position. This works the thighs by isolating the quad muscle in totality firming the thighs in the process as one lifts the weight.

“Pick manageable weight to do high reps. Start with a weight that can allow you to do like 20 reps,” she recommends.

Lunges

Lunges have variations and are key as it not only trains the thighs and the butt but also tests one’s core strength because they need an individual to have a very strong core to perform them.

Ms Kamau explains that the front lunge works the quads, reverse lunge the glutes and hamstrings and if you want to isolate the glute muscle then step back more.

“Drive your knee almost to the ground but should not touch the ground while lunging.”

Leg press

Ms Owala explains that leg press is a compound weight training exercise in which the individual pushes a weight or resistance away from them using their legs.

The exercise mostly targets the hamstring muscle as one pushes the weight using the muscle. It also places a demand on the quad but it is mostly concerned with the hamstring.

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