How To Achieve Legs Like Lance Armstrong (Part 4)
There’s no doubt about it that professional cyclists have the most impressive legs among endurance sports enthusiasts out there. And if you’d like to achieve the same physique, the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to bike for four to six hours daily if you’d like to achieve the same powerful quads, muscular calves, and rippling thighs. In this article, you’ll learn how to utilize a series of exercises that will enable you to achieve strong and well-toned legs just like what Lance Armstrong has.
First off, legs have to be divided into three main groups:
- The quadriceps
- The hamstrings
- The calves
To achieve legs like Lance Armstrong, you’ll need to commit to a workout regimen which consists of exercises that target each of the muscle groups mentioned above.
Here are a handful of recommendations:
Compare the legs of a marathoner to the legs of a cyclist and you’ll notice something very peculiar – the legs of the former are almost always stringy or skinny. This happens because:
- running doesn’t require as much force to contract the legs as compared to cycling so marathoners’ legs stay skinny;
- the leg muscle fibers of runners wear down at a much quicker rate since the sport is highly catabolic and high-impact too.
Now, based on the above reasons, you must then adopt a strategy for developing powerful and well-toned quads which include:
- activities that necessitate production of great force, routines such as uphill bike riding as well as weight lifting
- activities that aren’t too catabolic, examples of which are long and low-impact cardio sessions as well as running.
The quadriceps can be found on the front sections of the thigh. The quadriceps gets to work when you extend your leg from your knee joint. It’s the same muscle group that’s responsible when you flex your upper leg from your hip joint too. So the exercise routines you should choose are those that incorporate said extending and flexing motions.
The most ideal exercise that integrates both said movements is the “kick-forward”. What’s best, it doesn’t require much to perform as all you’ll need is a cable or elastic band. Place it to the lower leg or ankle and stand stably on your other leg. Afterwards, kick forward making sure the leg you’re extending is kept straight while you contract the quad muscles. When performing the kick-forwards, make sure you do so in a slow and controlled manner to maximize the routine’s quads-building benefits.
Perhaps you’ve read from exercise magazines and books how the hamstrings (located at the back of the legs and stretches from the hips all the way down the upper calves) can be more powerful than the quads.
Some elite athletes unfortunately have this issue. However, this isn’t the case for most folks out there. Instead of too powerful hamstrings, most suffer instead from tightness of these muscles. Unfortunately, in either case, the upshot is almost always low back pain as well as reduced performance. And more often than not too, folks with this condition often compromise their body’s capacity to develop and strengthen the muscles in their hamstrings.
This is why when drawing up a workout regimen specifically for the hamstrings, you’ll need to select routines that’ll help improve, not just the hamstrings’ power, but its overall range of motion as well as mobility. And by far, the one exercise that features said benefits for the hamstrings is the “Romanian deadlift”.
To perform a Romanian deadlift, hold the weight while standing on one or both your legs. Make sure your back is kept straight, your butt is slightly sticking out, and your knees bent only slightly. Bring the weight down to just right above your knees. Now, keep at it until you feel your hamstrings become tight and you can no longer hold the position without bending your back. Once you’ve reached this, then that’s the time you get back to the standing-up position.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of this exercise is that it’ll help develop the muscles found at the back of your legs without creating a strength imbalance between the hamstrings and the quadriceps. Now, once you’ve successfully strengthened and toned your hamstrings, then it shouldn’t be as hard anymore to develop the muscles from the calves to the butt.
Toe raises have long been the most popular exercise routine for strengthening and toning the calves. However, toe raises are very inefficient in terms of developing the calves.
If you’d like to achieve well-toned and powerful calves, you’ll need to do exercises that involve a lot of knee flexing. High-power routines which involve shifting the weight of your body onto the front or middle section of your foot are ideal too as these exercises compel the muscles on the calves to contract.
Exercises that you shouldn’t do without are incline sprinting as well as squat jumps. To do incline sprinting, it would be best if you use a treadmill. For an efficient workout, adjust the treadmill so it’s at the highest possible incline setting. Next, set it to a running speed which you consider fast enough even if you weren’t on an incline. Hop on the treadmill making sure you run for 30 seconds. Get off and just keep the treadmill running while you rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Once you’ve recovered, get back on and do another 30-second round, until you complete 10 rounds overall. Also, you can alternate push-ups and crunches during the 30- or 60-second rest for an even more intense workout.
For squat jumps, assume the squat position first. Afterwards, swing your arms upwards and thrust your body into a jump as high as you possibly can. Make sure that you land stably with both your knees just slightly bent every time you hit the ground. Once you’re confident you’ve mastered this, you can further build strength by carrying a medicine ball against your chest, or a barbell on your back, when doing your squat jumps.
Combine the above exercise recommendations with some minimal cycling workouts every week and you should be able to achieve legs like Lance Armstrong in no time!