With a hectic schedule of school, work and personal errands, finding time to work out can be as challenging as scheduling a doctor's appointment. Getting bigger, muscular thighs and legs can be time consuming, especially if you train your lower body one muscle at a time. By training multiple muscle groups together, you can squeeze your workout in your schedule in less than 30 minutes. Before you train, warm up for five to 10 minutes by swinging your legs back and forth or side to side, doing a couple of body-weight squats and lunges, and taking a couple of deep breaths.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-distance apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand near your shoulders with your elbows tucked close to your ribs. Point your feet forward or slightly turn them out.
Inhale as you lower your buttocks until they move past the level of your knees. Keep your heels on the floor and your spine upright. Do not lean excessively forward.
Exhale as you push your feet against the floor to straighten your legs. You should feel your thighs and buttocks working. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Stand and face a plyobox that is as high as your knees. Bend your hips and knees slightly, and swing your arms back to initiate the jump.
Jump onto the plyobox, and land gently on your toes and the balls of your feet with your feet about hip-distance apart. Bend your knees when you land.
Jump back to the floor immediately to the starting position, landing gently on your toes and the balls of your feet. Jump up and down as quickly as you can for three to four sets of eight to 15 jumps.
Jump Rope Combo
Stand with your feet together, and swing the rope forward and under you. Hop about 2 inches off the floor, and land gently on your toes and the balls of your feet. Hop at a rate of two hops per second for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 to 20 seconds.
Stand on your right leg, and raise your left up so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Swing the rope forward and under you, hop at a rate of two hops per second for 30 seconds. Switch the leg position without pausing and hop on your left leg at the same rate for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 to 40 seconds.
Stand with your left foot about 6 inches in front of your right foot. Swing the rope forward and under you, and hop at a rate of two hops per second for 30 seconds. Switch the leg position without pausing, and continue to hop at the same rate for another 30 seconds. Rest for 30 to 40 seconds, and repeat the entire jump-rope circuit three to four more times.
Eating and Timing
Consume a small meal consisting of complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grains, leafy vegetables and lean proteins, within 45 minutes after training. This is when your body needs nutrients the most to repair damaged muscle tissues, balance your hormones and restore energy to your cells.
Chew and savor your food thoroughly to avoid wolfing it down since your digestive system may not be able to handle a large quantity of food after training.
Consult with a sports dietitian for customized meal plan and nutrition-related issues specifically for you if you need further assistance. The amount and types of food you eat depend on many factors, such as age, gender, health history, allergies and habits; there is no cookie-cutter menu for everyone.
- Once you're familiar with these exercises, perform all three with very little in time between. This will stimulate a higher rate of growth in your leg muscles while trimming down your workout time. Add other leg exercises, such as the leg press, power step-ups, stair-running and the barbell back squat on a squat rack.
- If you're using free weights or an exercise machine, use a heavier weight if you can perform the exercises without breaking a sweat. Use a lighter weight if you can't perform the exercises with proper form or movement control. For jump-rope training, reduce the rate to one hop per second if you can't do two hops per second well. Master this tempo first before progressing to two hops per second.
- Do not exercise if you feel pain in your legs, such as in your ankles, heels, knees, and hips. Take one day off from training between days to allow your muscles and other tissues time to heal and rest. However, during these rest days, stay active and do light activities to keep your body moving and your blood pumping, such as swimming, walking your dog and yoga.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.