Okay, so perhaps the biology of it is not quite scientifically on-point, but this explanation works either way, that of your lower body making for somewhat of “drain” through which the calories in the rest of your body can flow out. What I’m trying to say is that if you focus on working out your lower body, targeting each of your lower body muscles for some firming and toning, the upper body follows suit and essentially just takes care of itself.
I mean think about it – the typical long-distance endurance runner isn’t usually commended for their great forearms or any other upper-body muscle group, are they? What they’re commended for is the tone and definition seen in their lower body muscles, however if you were to focus on their upper body muscles you’d realise that those muscles are equally toned and defined, if not more!
If you were to subsequently take a peek into this endurance runner’s exercise regime you’d notice that they mostly focus on lower body exercises, if they pay any attention to upper-body exercises at all. So the strengthening and toning of the lower body is really the strengthening and toning of the whole body by default, which is why you should focus more on exercising your lower body if you want a more well-defined set of muscles throughout your entire body!
So with all of that said, what is the best workout to strengthen and tone you lower body?
Any compound lower-body exercise
Yes, that’s right – as much as we spoke of focussing on the lower body for better all-round strength and tone, the temptation to focus on isolation exercises should be resisted. So instead of launching a full-on attack on your legs with the various types of leg-raises, calf raises and any exercises which isolate and target specific leg muscles, rather complete compound exercises such as squats, dead-lifts, jack-knives and even jumping-squats.
These compound exercises bring into play pretty much every other muscle in your body, including your upper-body muscles, which is why you’d find a sprinter having a very well-defined upper body despite reporting not to spend too much of their time actually working their upper body muscles out.
The absolute best way to tone, shape and strengthen your lower body however, if you really want to isolate your leg muscles is to simply try to “run” as fast as you can inside the pool. It makes for a lot of fun, but will also have you finding that extra bit of motivation to put in a session even when you’re not quite feeling up to it.
As far as supplementation to aid the process of toning and strengthening your lower body goes, whey protein powder is a great option in that it delivers all the “clean” fuel and nutrition you require to power up your muscles and to help them recover quickly following each session.
Otherwise if you are indeed going to focus on one half of your body to target with your exercise regime, make it your lower body.