Angelo Frasier's client, Summer Priester, model, blogger and MUA. Photo: Summer Priester Facebook page
Gams, poles, pins, stems, walking sticks, underpinnings, slegs, Mandy Moores, Katys or Stacy Kieblers, or just legs – whatever you call them, every gal wants a good looking pair of them. We are on a mission to help our readers obtain every single resource you need to have a successful pageant experience, so we’ve developed these very cool courses about everything related to pageantry. And, speaking of resources, we have one of the best directories for locating personal trainers that you’re ever going to find. So, after you’re done reading this article, why not take some time and locate a trainer in your area? This week, we are talking about making our bodies the best they can be, and I’m going to be discussing what you can do to get the legs you’ve always wanted. Be forewarned. This article is not going to teach you how to achieve a “thigh gap.” Why? Because, pretty pageant girl, you are perfect whether you have one or not, and celebrating your uniquely beautiful body, with or without said thigh gap, is what is important to us, and it should be to you as well. So, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into what it takes to get you the legs of your dreams.
What is the key to getting great legs?
If you want killer legs, you cannot just diet and you cannot just exercise. Why? Because your legs are a combination of muscle and fat, among other things. It really is a matter of combining a healthy eating plan that does not exceed your daily requirements for food and following a consistent workout program with a lot of variety that includes anaerobic and aerobic exercises.
Before you pull up Youtube to find the song, “Legs” by ZZ Top and scroll through eBay trying to locate an old Jane Fonda workout tape, let me explain what aerobic exercise really is. Aerobic exercise is defined as exercise that requires a steady supply of oxygen to the muscles to perform the activity. It is typically done at a moderate to lower intensity, for a longer duration. Examples include riding a bike, dancing, playing tennis and running. Anaerobic exercise is defined as exercise that does not require additional oxygen to be taken in by the muscles to move the body. It is performed with high intensity for a short duration. The best example would be weight training. Let me just say something about weight training. A lot of women are so scared that using weights are going to bulk them up like a linebacker that they stay clear of that area of the gym, preferring to log miles on the treadmill or bike. Let’s clarify this so that you don’t miss out on a major component of obtaining great looking legs. Women cannot achieve that extreme amount of muscle mass because our bodies do not produce the major hormone required for it, which is testosterone. Performing leg exercises with weights, or doing squats and lunges, is not going to make you into Mr. Olympia. If you do them the wrong way, attempting to do squats with a few hundred pounds on your back, you will probably develop a bit more bulk on your backside and thighs than what you wish. However, if you do them correctly, you might just take home the fitness award at your next pageant and you will look fabulous in shorts and miniskirts this summer! (Read: How to Tone Your Butt)
Performing weight-bearing exercises makes your legs strong, and strong legs are shapely legs. That shapeliness comes from muscle development. Just dieting isn’t going to cut it, and just doing aerobic exercise will not do it. So embracing some kind of exercise that works all of the muscles of your legs, as well as burning fat, is the key to great gams!
Miss Crimson Alabama USA 2018, Danielle Bjorlo. Photo: Fit Body By Angelo Facebook Page
What kind of a workout program is best for me?
The crucial thing about creating and sticking to an exercise program is finding something that you really enjoy doing. I know, I know. I can hear your disbelief now. “I don’t enjoy exercising, period!” you shout with disdain. I understand your pain, I really do. But, I am convinced that everybody can find some form of physical fitness that they enjoy doing if they are willing to try. Think about little kids for a minute. They run around and get exercise all day long, but they don’t ever stop to think about their heart rate or the fact that they are technically exercising. They just move! If you can begin to change your thinking about exercise and think of it more as a type of play, it can totally change your experience. The first step in determining what form of physical fitness that you will enjoy doing is thinking about what kind of person you are and what motivates you. Do you like working out alone or with people? Are you extremely self-disciplined and find motivating yourself pretty easy? Or do you tend to quit working out a few weeks into it or do you get bored or frustrated? Do you enjoy group activities that focus more on what you are doing rather than the exercise itself? If you are pretty self-disciplined and find motivating yourself easy, then you will probably do very well working out with weights by yourself. If your experience with working out has been that you tend to quit working out a few weeks into it, or you get bored or frustrated, then you may just benefit from a workout partner or even hiring a personal trainer to help you.
If you have never been athletic and all of this is intimidating to you, I empathize with you. Believe me, I get it. Not only am I not a natural athlete, but I am a person who has lost over 100 pounds! Yep, you read that right. I started at a fitness level that was nonexistent. I basically had the metabolism of a speed bump.
What is a fitness level?
The other component of a successful fitness regime is honoring your fitness level. Your fitness level is the type of exercise that you are safely able to do effectively and the length of time you can do it, in addition to the intensity that you can perform it. In simple terms, it means if you can only walk for 15 minutes at a slow pace before you have to sit down, then you need to pay attention to that and don’t try to do more. If you can jump on a Stairmaster for 25 minutes at a moderate climb and maintain a conversation, but then you feel like your lungs are about to burst and your entire lower body is about to combust, then that is your fitness level. You must start where you are. If you attempt to do things that your body is not ready for, you risk injury and burnout. If you ignore your current fitness level, you will set yourself up for failure. But, don’t worry. Once you get moving, things are going to pick up quickly, and you will be building on that fitness level in no time.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with challenging yourself and being able to put up with some degree of discomfort when you are exercising, but I just want to caution you if you are trying something new, you have not worked out in a long time or you are completely new to fitness. Always respect the limits of your physical body, and it will reward you by getting stronger, faster, leaner and more efficient as it adjusts to what you are asking it to do. I started out with walking for about 20 to 30 minutes and tried to do that at least four days each week. Walking has since become the mainstay of my fitness program mainly because I simply love it. But, when I started, it did not take long for me to increase my time to 50 to 60 minutes. Then I discovered the wall climber, the stair stepper and eventually free weights and machines to work out my legs.
Body By Craig’s client, Miss Historic Hanover 2018, Hallie Hovey Murray showing off the legs that she worked hard for! Photo: Hallie Hovey Murray Instagram
What are some things that I can do at home or in the gym that will give me results?
There are lots of things that you can do at home in a gym that provide both anaerobic and aerobic exercise. These exercises do double duty by not only working your leg muscles but by also burning fat so that those leg muscles are more noticeable. Hopping on a treadmill, riding the bike or spending time on the stair stepper are all fantastic forms of exercise that will fill the bill. You really can do them if you are just beginning an exercise program. The great thing about these types of machines is that you can adjust the incline, the resistance and the intensity as your body adjusts to your workout, ensuring that your legs continue to get stronger and more toned as your fitness level improves. Another one of my favorite exercises is rowing, both in a real boat, called a skull, as well as in the gym on the rowing machine. However, it might be surprising to know that rowing is not just a leg exercise. Your entire body actually benefits in a very big way. Not only does rowing do major work on every muscle in your legs, it also hits your glutes, arms, torso and abs, and is incredibly beneficial for aerobic conditioning. (Read: How to Tone Your Arms )
How do I start a weight training program?
If you’ve got the aerobic part of your program covered and you’d like start weight training to make the most of your legs, then you can get tremendous results! If you do not have any experience with weight training, or it’s been some time since you pumped iron, I sincerely urge you to meet with a personal trainer or someone you know that is very familiar not only with exercises but with proper lifting techniques. So many people get all fired up when preparing for a pageant and get signed up at a gym and go shopping for some cute workout clothes, but they have no clue what they are supposed to do. They go to the gym, pick up some dumbbells, get intimidated by the big guys doing bench presses and slink over to the machines. There they crank up the weight, hop on some machine that looks promising and promptly pull a hamstring.
Then they are injured, frustrated, intimidated and they go home and eat a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s. Don’t let this be you! Take the time to get educated before you pick up a weight so that you can get the results that you deserve. You don’t need a doctorate in human anatomy to complete your leg exercises correctly, but you should have a basic understanding of the leg muscles and what they do. This kind of knowledge is very helpful so that you know why you are doing the moves that you are doing, and it also helps you to focus on the movement while you are doing it. The leg is comprised of several different muscles. The quadriceps are the four muscles at the front of the thigh. They are the strongest and leanest of all muscles in the body. The hamstrings are three muscles at the back of the thigh that affect hip and knee movement. The abductors and adductors are a part of the thighs and the hips. They are the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs. Below the knee, the tibialis anteriors make up the shin muscles, and gastrocnemius and soleus muscles make up the calves.
"Nobody Cares. Work Harder." Body by Craig’s mantra for 2018. Photo: Craig Hughes Facebook Page
What are the best weight training exercises for killer legs?
Time does not allow me to go into great detail about the specifics of all of the exercises mentioned in this article, so it is well worth your time to do some research and really get yourself educated about them. Once again, this is where having a trainer can make an enormous difference in helping you to obtain the legs that you want while saving you from doing exercises incorrectly. One important thing to know is that a lot of women have overdeveloped quads and neglect to exercise their inner thigh muscles. As a result, we are prone to certain types of knee injuries and damage because our outer thigh muscles are more developed, and they tend to overcompensate. This situation can make the knee slightly unstable and injury occurs. So, it is really important to strive for a balanced approach to leg development rather than just focusing on what you consider to be your problem areas. "Outside of abs, training legs for the pageant stage is often the most personal and challenging area of competition physique sculpting," according to Craig Hughes, the owner of Body by Craig and one of Pageant Planet’s Top 10 Personal Trainers of 2017. "That’s because most women are quad-dominant. From cheerleaders to volleyball players, women are taught to be up on their toes and leaning forward. Carrying over this practice to the gym means everything they do for leg training is going to make their quads grow bigger!” (Read: How to Get Toned Abs)
“The first thing I do for most clients to get them long and lean is to quit training their thighs with back squats and abduct those hips. When most women come to Body by Craig for training they can’t squat properly at all, even with their own body weight, so I teach them to squat properly without destroying your lower back and knees.” Hughes is extremely knowledgeable about leg development and has amazing insight into what each of his clients requires. His ability to tailor an exercise regime for each woman is incredibly complex and detailed. He is not serving up a one-size-fits-all approach in his gym. Hughes states, “What we choose to do will vary with the alignment and physique needs of each individual client. For example, some women need bigger quads or they are lacking in their development, whereas they will need their thighs reduced in size.” He strives to give his clients a feminine pageant body and not just sculpt muscle. Some of his techniques are quite unusual, but they obviously pay off. He utilizes resistance bands, weights and a few creative moves. “One great elongation move we do for both quads and posterior chain is called an elevated Bulgarian split squat with various forms of pulses, holds and bands," Hughes said. "Another favorite move is a wide curtsey squat combined with bands or weights. I will actually have my clients practice walking while using resistance bands, so essentially we teach women how to actually walk like a man so they can look like a woman!” His commitment to delivering successful results is unmatched, and he has a long list of titleholders to prove it.
They quite often receive the fitness awards in their pageants and some have even made it onto Pageant Planet’s Best Swimsuit Bodies of the year list. This year he trained Miss Virginia USA 2018 Ashley Vollrath for her state pageant and is now preparing her to take the Miss USA stage in just a few months time. I have no doubt that she is going to cause some jaws to drop!
Craig Hughes' client, Miss Virginia USA 2018 Ashley Vollrath. Photo: Miss Virginia USA Website
Is there hope for me if I don’t like weight training?
I can hear you saying, “Well, all of that is great for you, but I really don’t like to go to the gym and lift weights.” No worries. You don’t have to go to work with weights to get a fantastic leg workout. There are other paths to fitness and many other ways to train those legs. If lifting weights just doesn’t appeal to you, it’s ok. The great thing about exercising your legs is that just about anything you do where you are moving your body is going to help you. Once again, the key is to find something that you will enjoy doing that doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise. If you like working out with other people and you also get really pumped up by music, then you might just enjoy some kind of a dance class. Now, I’m not talking about ballet, although ballet is an incredible discipline for beautiful legs. In fact, every style of dance is good for toning and training legs. But, if traditional dance is not your speed, why not try a Zumba class? You don’t need to be a trained dancer to enjoy Zumba and get a great workout.
Or, if you want something more like an old-school workout, how about boxing or martial arts? Still want to do the group thing but maybe not with the speakers blaring? Why not explore Pilates or Yoga? Want to change up your environment and not be stuck inside in a studio? How about doing some laps in a swimming pool or learning to play tennis? If you want some inspiration, check out Serena Williams' legs!
The world-class legs of tennis pro Serena Williams. Photo Serena Williams Facebook Page
What can I do if I don’t have a gym membership or equipment?
If you don’t have a gym membership or equipment at home, you can still get a phenomenal leg workout using your own bodyweight. Over the years, using machines, weights and fancy contraptions have become the fashionable and most common way to exercise and change the look of your legs. Out of boredom and an attempt to vary our approach, we have gotten away from the simplicity of using our own bodies and natural movements to become fit. (Read: 10 Pageant Exercises You Can Do Anywhere)
There are some outstanding personal trainers who still believe in this philosophy, and one of the most well known is Angelo Frasier, who owns “Fit Body By Angelo” and who was also a member of the Pageant Planet’s Top 10 Personal Trainers of 2017. Frasier is proud to be the official fitness and nutrition sponsor for the RPM titleholders of the Miss Alabama, Miss South Carolina, Miss North Carolina and Miss Louisiana USA pageants. He is also the official sponsor for the Miss Universe Iceland system and the Miss California International pageant as well as numerous Mrs. United States pageants. He is warm, personable and relentlessly positive, and pageant contestants depend on his supportive style of coaching to reach their goals. In fact, one of the first things that Angelo will likely say to you when you meet him is, “You’re a winner!” That affirming attitude coupled with his expertise in transforming physiques makes him one of the most sought after trainers in the pageant world. "I strive to keep a favorable balance for females between their upper body and lower bodies, and I have created a successful system that utilizes natural body function moves, which is another way of saying that my clients are using their own bodies as the weight," Frasier said. "My system involves moves like reverse lunges and plank exercises that work the legs and booty, in order to elongate the muscles, producing a long and lean look that my clients love.”
Like Hughes, he also agrees that a lot of trainers tend to overdo some exercises like squats with heavy weights and end up increasing the size of the glutes and legs, making for a more bulky look, which is not what the ladies in pageantry are looking for. Frasier is one of the most innovative and creative trainers ever and explains why his system is so successful and unique when it comes to the world of pageantry. “l have been doing workouts for years using bags of sugar, cans of stewed tomatoes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper, house plants, cloth towels and even loaves of bread instead of traditional weights!" Frasier said. "Our program is done primarily in the home, with occasional visits to the gym if necessary. We FaceTime and Skype with the majority of our clients every day and check in with them about their diets and their program. You cannot out exercise a bad diet, and my clients are eating all day long.” The proof is in the product, as his pageant clients routinely win the fitness or swimsuit award, like Mrs. North Carolina United States 2018 Katie Archer Miller did when she competed in her state pageant just weeks ago.
Angelo Frasier's client, Mrs. North Carolina United States 2018, Katie Archer Miller. Photo: Angelo Frasier Facebook
What can I do if I am just beginning to exercise or if I’m recovering from an injury?
If you are just beginning to exercise or you are recovering from an injury and you can’t do anything strenuous, you definitely want to respect your fitness level and work out appropriately. But, don’t you worry your pretty little pageant head. I’m going to introduce you to one of the best exercises for your legs that burns fat like crazy, and is very safe if you are injured, and that exercise is walking!
Even walking with a pal for 40 to 60 minutes is an incredible workout. The walking is toning every inch of your lower body, as well as burning off a tremendous amount of fat after 20 minutes, and the time just flies by because you are enjoying the company. Walking is one of the most underrated exercises for weight loss and sculpting beautiful legs. And, as you build your fitness level, you can increase your distance, increase your speed or increase your intensity by walking up hills, with or without a weighted backpack. If you don’t believe me, go out and find a bunch of hills and give it a try. Trust me, your hamstrings, calves and the front of your thighs will be convincing you the next day. Many people think that it can’t be doing all that much because you’re not working up a sweat and huffing and puffing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Walking is one of the best all-around exercises because it has so many benefits: fat burning, cardio strengthening, muscle toning and, best of all, it is low impact. In other words, there is a very low risk of injury because you are not jumping up and down. It is also one of the best leg workouts for people who are starting at a beginning fitness level or who are very overweight. Again, if you start slow and respect your fitness level, you may only be able to do manage 20 minutes of walking. But, if you are consistent, and can get yourself out there at least four times a week, you will be amazed at how quickly you will come up to speed (did you see what I did there?). If you are a person who would rather work out by yourself and not be strolling with Chatty Cathy, then download some of your favorite tunes, or an audio novel or other book, and hit the pavement while rocking out or learning something new. You might actually have some fun, and those pounds will be melting off like you won’t believe.
Angelo Frasier and Miss California International 2018, Alexis Castillo. Photo: Angelo Frasier Facebook Page
Where do I start?
We strive to meet the needs of our readers because we know just how hard you work to fulfill your pageant goals. We want to provide you with the best information and the top-notch professionals in their fields. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have a pageant looming and you want to get into better shape, then this course on physical fitness can help you get there!
I hope that this article on toning your legs gives you the inspiration to take the action that you need to take, but don’t worry about trying to do everything suggested. All you have to do is start. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And, that first step is going to lead you to the legs that you have always dreamed of. You can do this! If you’ve got some great tips that you’ve used in your leg training, we would love for you to share them with us. Please leave us a comment!
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