Ana Maria

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Protein Yogurt Ice Cream

protein yogurt ice cream

Give your taste buds a treat with protein yogurt ice cream

Protein yogurt ice cream makes a great snack, or healthy dessert, that won't ruin your training goals.

Sometimes when you're chasing new health and fitness goals, whether they are related to weight loss, or gaining muscle and strength, you can start to feel that your meal plans are a bit bland. 

That leads to cravings, which leads to unplanned cheat snacks, which leads to feelings of guilt and affects your progress.  That's a bad path to follow. 

It's much better to plan to include some healthy treats in your diet, so sweet tooth cravings are taken care of, while still eating clean. 

If you need any extra convincing that yogurt is great for you, see all the details here.

This protein yogurt ice cream recipe is a perfect healthy dessert, as it's full of protein, which actually keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer, and helps with muscle recovery from your workouts. 

Protein yogurt ice cream ingredients

  • 1 serve of vanilla yogurt (I use high protein yogurt)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon spice
  • 1/2 glass of water
protein yogurt ice cream ingredient prep

Making your yogurt ice cream

This is a really easy recipe to make, with just a couple of minutes prep time, and pop the ice cream into the freezer.

Just a few easy steps;

  1. Chop the banana into slices
  2. Add the yogurt, banana and water into a blender
  3. Add protein powder
  4. Add cinnamon spice
  5. Blend until smooth
  6. Pour mixture into plastic cups and freeze
protein yogurt ice cream ingredients

I really like the cinnamon spice, but you can consider that optional if you just like a really pure vanilla taste.

The protein yogurt ice cream will freeze really hard, so I usually shift a cup into the fridge for about 15 minutes before eating, so it's a bit softer.

My husband has a real love affair with ice cream, and always has a tub of it in the freezer, so this recipe has given us a great healthy option so he still has a tasty treat that he can enjoy, while getting a good hit of healthy protein and yogurt.  That keeps everyone happy:)

If you are looking for some healthy dinner recipe ideas as well, then you'll enjoy these 31 clean eating recipes.

Enjoy, and stay healthy!

Breakfast Desserts Healthy Treat Recipe

breakfast desserts

Breakfast desserts recipe for a healthy start

Breakfast desserts might sound strange, but it's actually a great idea!

Why start the day being boring? 

In some countries within Europe including Bavaria, Hungary, Poland, Vienna and Austria, they traditionally even have a second breakfast.  So if they can create a tradition like that around breakfast, why can't we start our own?

I vote that we all start creating breakfast desserts, to get our days underway with a tasty treat.

Anyhow, fire up your taste buds with this super tasty and simple recipe, which is also great for your digestive health and keeps you feeling full for longer with a hit of extra protein. 

Breakfast desserts ingredients;

  • 1 portion of high protein yogurt
  • serve of fresh sliced strawberries
  • serve fresh sliced mango
  • 1/2 cup of healthy grains mix
breakfast desserts ingredients

Making your breakfast desserts

Soak the 1/2 cup of grains in 1/2 cup of water kept in the fridge overnight, to activate the grains so that they are easy for your stomach to digest quickly. 

Prepare a serve each of sliced mango and strawberries.  I include a fairly generous serve of both, because I just love sweet fruits, and they provide a real burst of flavour combined with the vanilla yogurt. 

Place a serve of high protein yogurt in a bowl

Add the healthy grains.  They will have absorbed the 1/2 cup of water and have swelled up a bit.  

mix the yogurt and grains together till the grains are well blended into the yogurt. 

add the sliced fresh fruit on top, and your healthy breakfasts desserts recipe is complete and ready to enjoy. 

How quick and easy is that! 

While I've called this a breakfast recipe, it's actually really handy to make this up and keep some in a container to eat as a filling snack throughout the day as well.

It's a tasty treat, that due to the high protein yogurt, will keep you feeling satisfied, with good energy, for longer.

If you are constantly craving sweets in your diet, it's a good indicator about your food personality.  if you'd like to find out more about your own food personality, try taking the simple test below;


Food Quiz: Food Preferences and Personality

fruit basket

Food Quiz; What do your preferences say about You?

A food quiz can tell you a lot about your food persona, and how you really relate to food. 

Are you really a healthy eater? 

Or do you cave in to emotional hunger occasionally. 

Take the quick food quiz and find out!

Why your food preferences are important;

Cravings for different types of food, whether it's spicy, salty, sweet, fast food or natural organic can have as much to do with your personality as it does your taste buds. 

But whatever the reason, you can be very sure that your food preferences are going to have a major impact on your life. 

The foods you choose to eat will have an affect on;

  • Your energy levels
  • Your body fat
  • Your digestive health
  • Your strength / muscle density
  • Your weight
  • Your sleep
  • Your bone health
  • Risk of diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes to name a few.
  • Your mental health
  • Your immune system
  • Blood pressure
  • Your teeth 
  • Your skin / Acne
  • Cholesterol 
  • And many more; 

You get the idea.  What you eat will to a very large degree influence what kind of health and enjoyment you achieve in life. 

Food has an affect on us all, physically, mentally and many would say spiritually as well. 

food quiz

Food and your spiritual balance;

In Ayurvedic medicine practice there is a strong belief in eating to balance your dosha.  The spiritual nutrition principles are based around three doshas;

  • Vayu
  • Pitta
  • Kapha

By eating the correct foods for the dosha which is in most alignment with your shakra, you maintain harmony within the body, by soothing the dosha. 

Recommendations for each are;

Vayu - warm foods with moderately heavy texture. See more here

Pitta - cool or warm with moderately heavy texture and bitter, sweet and astringent tastes. See more here

Kapha - warm and light foods without much water. See more here

Have you taken the food quiz yet?

I hope that you're convinced that it's worth having an understanding of your food personality, and you've taken the quiz to find out. 

If not, jump back to the top of the page and start the quiz.  Whether you are really serious about it, or just curious, it only takes a couple of minutes to do, and just might help you to understand why you eat the way you do.

If you're ready for some great healthy eating, check out some of the easy to prepare dishes in these clean eating recipes.

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

Yoga Poses; How to do Supta Baddha Konasana

Supta Baddha Konasana is a deeply relaxing pose which is great to include in a yoga practice for any level

To relax the mind, body and restore the spirit, regular practice of this pose will have great benefits.

You can try doing a simple Baddha Honasana pose to start with if the reclining pose is stretching too much through the groin.

At the end of a long day, try practicing Supta Baddha Konasana, and feel the lift in your spirits.

Watch the video below as Kerri McCubben shares easy to follow instructions on how to do Supta Baddha Konasana;

Some benefits of Supta Baddha Konasana

  1. Increased energy levels
  2. Decreased heart rate
  3. Reduced fatigue 
  4. Relief of panic attacks and anxiety 
  5. Reduced tension and stress
  6. Lower blood pressure
  7. Good for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or PMS
  8. Provides a great stretch of the groin and inner thigh muscles.

Steps

  1. Begin seated in staff pose with your legs extended in front of you. 
  2. Bend your knees, pressing the soles of your feet together and draw your heals back towards your pelvis.
  3. Lean backwards and place your elbows on the ground.
  4. Close your eyes and internalise your thoughts.
  5. Breath deeply for five long breaths, feeling your chest and ribs expand and your body relax.
  6. Role to the side and come up into a seated position.

Tips

  1. Relax your belly to allow maximum extension through your spine.
  2. Breath deeply and naturally throughout
  3. Centre your mind and focus on relaxing through your entire body.
  4. Depending on your flexibility, you may find placing a block under each knee helps to keep you relaxed without over stretching the groin. 
  5. Place a small pillow behind your neck for extra comfort.

Learning to listen to your body is an invaluable benefit of regular yoga practice, and a relaxing pose like Supta Baddha Konasana can really help with this. Feel the stillness, and focus your thoughts throughout the pose while continuing to breath deeply to expand the chest. 

Once you're comfortable try some more of these 50 beginner yoga poses, for a well rounded yoga practice. 

Sagittal Plane, Frontal Plane & Transverse Plane

sagittal plane

Do you know about the sagittal plane and the other different planes of motion your body works in every day?

These days, our life-style has changed to become busier.

Sometimes we don’t spend time to better understand or reflect on our actions, nutrition, health and fitness decisions. Including how the way we train impacts on our body over time.

We need to care for our body, this amazing machine that we use every single day, and sometimes it’s important to spend some time to know more about it!

Since, I’ve been training, I incorporate diverse exercises to work my whole body.

Different types of cardio and weights training, to keep me in good condition to operate in my every-day life.

As happens to me sometimes, I got curious enough to want to understand, what does it mean to move in a plane, and why is it important at all?

If you'd like more technical details about the anatomical planes, then you may like to read this wikipedia page. I'm going to keep things practical here for you.

Let’s talk about the different planes, so we understand more why we should do each exercise we do in our training routine.

And the importance of including different moves in your workout, that work the body in all planes, in which we usually move.

The body moves in three motions or planes known as: Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse plane

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Before we go ahead with some exercises, let’s understand each plane.

Sagittal Plane:

Movements in this plane are flexion and extension. Also up and down exercises.

Frontal Plane:

Exercises in this plane are sideways movements known as abductions and adduction.

Transverse Plane:

Movements in this plane are rotational, internal and external rotation, pronation and supination. Most sports include rotational moves.

When we don’t work our bodies in all those planes, the body will start to have an imbalance. Because we start to develop strength in some muscles leaving others out.

The muscles you leave out become weaker, and as a result your posture changes and injuries start to appear.

So, let’s mention some exercises in each plane that will help us to keep the full body in balance. You should try to incorporate some of each into your workouts to keep the body in balance.

There are many exercises in the front sagittal plane that you can include in your workout. For now I will only mention a few of the main one’s being, squats, bench press and push ups.

Squats:

squats

This is one of the compound exercises, because squats involve practically the whole body. But, the work is focused in the lower body, and the muscles with major involvement are the quadriceps, hamstring and glutes.

There are different types of squats, but I will explain the classical squat.

The start position for squats is standing. With the bar placed above the trapezes, (Shoulders, behind the neck) with your feet separated at shoulder width, and back straight.

The squat move is performed by descending as if you are going to have a seat. Without bending the back, and ensuring that the knees don’t pass in front of the tip of your feet. Your legs forming at least 90 degree angle. Also remember to keep your head straight looking up.

Remember to push your bum back first. This keeps your back in the correct position as your knees bend to lower you into the down position of the squat.

Power yourself back up, by driving down through your heels to stand up straight again.

Push ups:

push ups

I love push ups! They are a great exercise for the upper body. You will work your arms, chest and core. While you develop strength in your upper body you are also shaping your arms.

Place your hands on the floor at shoulder width. Feet on the floor, with legs extended and push your upper body until your arms are extended. Then lower back to the floor and hold for few seconds, and repeat the move.

For more variations of push ups which you can do. Check out this post 

Bench press:

bench press

This is one of the most classical exercises in any workout routine and for sure nobody forgets it.

Bench press is a compound exercise, as it involves a lot muscle of the upper body and It is great for developing great strength. Bench press not only works the pectorals, you also are working your triceps, front shoulders and back.

The starting point to do bench press is lying on the bench with your feet placed on the floor completely. Create an arch in your back, without taking your feet from the floor; the bar must be over your chest, your arms wide creating a 90 degrees angle at your elbow.

Press the bar back up until you have almost locked your elbows. Then bring the bar down until your mid-chest, and press it up again, keeping the arch in your back and keeping your butt on the bench.

We have mentioned the sagittal plane above, and a few exercises that can be done in this plane. Now let’s bring up some samples of exercises that work in the frontal plane.

Side lunges, lateral dumbbell raises and military press.

Side lunges:

side lunge

This is an exercise for the lower body, mainly targeting the glutes, quadriceps and adductors. It is an excellent exercise to start with body weight, until you get the technique down pat, and it becomes easier. Then you can step to the next level adding dumbbells or a barbell.

Here is how to do them.

Stand with your feet and knees together. Contract your core muscles and take a lateral step with one of your feet opposite to it lunging toward the floor. Make sure the other foot is stable and the knee is not passing the toe, keeping the other leg moderately straight. Keep the upper body vertical while you are lunging back to the starting point, pushing off all the weight of the other with the tension to start again.

Lateral dumbbell raises:

lateral dumbbell raise

This exercise is mainly focus in shoulders (deltoids) and it is simple to do it.

Now I will explain the way to train your shoulders with lateral raises.

Stand straight holding dumbbells in each hand with your palm facing your body. Keep your core stable by squeezing it. Then slowly raise the weights until they are parallel with your shoulders, and stop at the top for few seconds. And then slowly lower your hands down to the starting point.

Military press:

military press

It targets shoulders and triceps, although your core will be involved as well to keep the stability in your body.

Military press can be done standing up or even sitting on the bench. I prefer to do it standing up. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. Put your feet at shoulder width, hold the barbell with your arms with width of your shoulders, placing the bar on your collarbone. Then press the barbell up until your arms are fully extend over your head, keeping your torso stable and then lower it back to the initial point.

To complete all the planes, it is important to understand the transversal plane, and which exercises we can do in this plane.

As mentioned before, all movements with rotation are working on the transversal plane. Let’s point out a few of them such as right or left cross (boxing), twisting crunches with a medicine ball and wood chop exercise, with a dumbbell or cable.

Right or left cross:

right hook

To perform this exercise always keep your hands guarding your chin, while the other hand is throwing the cross.

When you are throwing the punch your hand should be extended. Your left foot is in front of your right (if you are right handed, or the reverse if you are left handed “Southpaw”). Bending both knees a bit and remaining balanced.

When you are punching your body is rotating with the power coming from the full body.

Twist crunches with a medicine ball:

russian twist

I have been doing this exercise for quite a long time, and let me tell you how good it is for your core muscles. I started with a light medicine ball and I have stepped up in weight when the exercise becomes easier. Twist crunches is also identify as the Russian twist.

To do this exercise, lying on the mat, bend your knees and crunch your core at 45-degree approximately. Hold the medicine ball and swing the ball side to side, keeping the lower body straight and only twisting the core.

Wood chops with a dumbbell or cable:

dumbbell woodchop
dumbbell woodchop up

It is manly focused on the core muscles and the oblique.

To perform wood chops you must hold the weight with both hands, bend your knees as if you were squatting. Cross the weight over your body from the left hip to the right upper body, with your lower body stable while you are doing the rotation. Repeat the same move to the other side.

Now we understand how in our every day life every move belongs to a different plane of motion, such as sagittal plane, frontal and transversal plane to have a normal function.

And also knowing all these planes of movement, we now have the understanding to perform a proper training routine. Incorporating exercises which use each one to keep all your muscles strong, prevent injuries and bad posture.

Since you are interested enough in your fitness to read this blog, you should take a few moments to complete the latest fitness quiz.

To see how your health and fitness ranks, find out now by clicking here.

Yoga Poses; How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana

Yoga Poses; How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana is a great asana to create new energy in your body.  It helps expand the ribs down both sides of your body to allow deep full breaths.

Think about when you wake up in the morning, and stretch your arms above your head with a giant yawn.  That's opening up your sides to allow air into your lungs in a similar way. 

You need to pay attention to stabalising your legs and hips when completing Utthita parsvakonasana, so that you are well balanced to achieve the fullest stretch possible right through your body to the tips of your fingers. 

One of the greatest benefits of yoga, is learning to focus your mind, and this pose is great for that.  Ensure that you are focusing on the many different parts of the pose, from your feet, through your legs and hips, your arms and head, all at the same time. This trains your mind to focus on many things simultaneously.

 Watch the following video, as Kerri McCubben shows us how to do Utthita parsvakonasana;

Some benefits of Utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose)

  1. Relieves stiffness in the back and shoulder
  2. Can relieve sciatica 
  3. Strengthens the ankles knees and legs
  4. Can help with menstrual pain
  5. Can help with lower back pain
  6. Provides a great stretch through the groin and hamstrings

Steps

  1. Come into Tadasana (mountain pose) 
  2. Bring your right leg back, while rotating both feet inwards, so that you end up almost pigeon toed
  3. Raise your arms up to shoulder height
  4. Draw your lower belly in
  5. Keep your arms and legs straight and strong, and turn your right foot out, pointing your toes to the right
  6. Bend through your right knee 
  7. Bring your right hand onto your leg and your left hand onto your hip
  8. Turn your head, taking your gaze up to the sky
  9. Place your right hand down onto the floor beside your right foot
  10. Reach your left arm up and over 
  11. Hold for five long deep breaths
  12. Release and simply come back up
  13. Repeat steps 2 through to 11, this time with the left leg / side. 
  14. Release and come back up again to finish

Tips

  1. Don't allow your body to drop or lean forward throughout the pose
  2. Keep your back foot pressed firmly into the floor
  3. Don't allow your front knee to go past your ankle. Keep it aligned with your front heel
  4. Focus on your breathing throughout

When you are completing this asana properly, with your breathing, mind and body in alignment, you will feel how yoga unites the spirit, mind and body as one. 

Utthita parsvakonasana works the whole body, so it's a good idea to complete the asana earlier in your routine, so that you can maintain good form without any fatigue having set in. 

If you'd love to get into more technical info about the extended side angle pose, then check out this Wikipedia page.

Looking for more yoga poses for your practice?  We've got 50 beginner yoga poses for you to try.

Keep practicing, and stay healthy!

Yoga Poses; How to do Parighasana – Gate Pose

beginner-yoga-poses-parighasana

Yoga Poses, how to do Parighasana

Parighasana, or gate pose is a great beginners level side bend, providing a great stretch through the side muscles and opening up the breathing, to be truly three dimensional. 

This asana is part of the yoga practice which was made popular by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th Century, called Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. often promoted now as classical Indian yoga.

Within this practice for each asana there are three important focuses of attention. Breathing system (pranayama), posture (asana), and looking place (dristhi), which importantly cover three levels of purification; the body, nervous system and the mind.

We should be mindful and focus on these as we complete our yoga practice, to obtain the most benefits.

Parigha literally means, the bar that shuts the gate, and your body resembles that bar when doing this pose. 

Coordinating your breathing while doing Parighasana will help to cleanse your system and relax your mind, calming nerves and helping with digestion.

Watch below as Kerri McCubben provides instruction on how to do Parighasana;

Some benefits of Parighasana (gate pose)

  1. Stimulates the abdominal organs and lungs
  2. Stretches the muscles of the torso, especially side muslces
  3. Repeated practice opens up the chest and shoulders
  4. Helps with breathing, as it stretches the muscles between your ribs (intercostal muscles)
  5. Can help alleviate respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies or colds
  6. Stretches adductor, hamstring and calf muscles
  7. Helps calm the mind, relieve stress and nerves

Steps

  1. Kneel on your mat with legs curled under
  2. Reach your right hand out to the side and take your weight on it
  3. Lift your pelvis up
  4. Extend your left leg out straight, placing your foot flat on the mat
  5. Tilt your pelvis forward drawing your lower belly in
  6. Extend your left arm up and bring it over so that you really feel the stretch through your rib muscles and down the side of your body
  7. Hold the pose for five long deep breaths
  8. Release, come down from the pose, relax and change to the other side

Tips

  1. Keep your stretched arm against your ear, and pull your shoulder blades together
  2. Look up at the sky, keeping your neck long
  3. Remember to breath deeply while you hold the pose
  4. Practice focusing the mind and feel the calming affect of the pose

Be careful when practicing Parighasana to keep your chest perpendicular with the floor and your torso straight.  Don't allow your body to twist and bend forward rather than to the side. 

For those who have had previous bad knee injuries or chronic knee problems, it's better to avoid this pose altogether.  You can do a similar side stretch while sitting on a chair instead, to achieve many of the same benefits. 

If you've mastered Parighasana, and are looking for more asana's to practice, then we've got 50 beginner yoga poses here for you to try.

Enjoy!  And remember, time spent working on yourself is always time well spent.

Yoga Poses; How to do Upavistha Konasana

Upavistha Konasana

Yoga Poses, how to do Upavistha Konasana

Upavistha Konasana looks hard doesn't it? Yoga poses come in all degrees of difficulty, and while I'm calling this a beginners pose, because it's a preparatory pose for other asana's, it is a challenging and intense stretch that will help center your mind as you release tension and embrace the pose. 

Wherever you are on your fitness journey, starting to incorporate yoga will bring benefits.  As someone who loves to run and lift, learning some of the foundational yoga poses really helps with my flexibility and lengthening muscles. 

Upavistha Konasana, or seated forward bend helps stretch the entire back, your hamstrings and inner thigh muscles

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Upavista means seated, and kona means angle in the Sanskrit language.  It's a really useful pose to use as preparation for most of the seated forward bends and twists.

Watch as Kerri McCubben of Home of Yoga New Farm demonstrates seated forward fold, below.  

Some benefits of Upavistha Konasana (seated forward fold)

  1. Stretches your adductors
  2. Stretches your hamstrings
  3. Calms your nervous system
  4. Is known to relieve sciatic pain
  5. Stimulates the abdominals
  6. Strengthens the spine
  7. The groin is released
  8. Activates your core musles

Steps

  1. Sit erect and open your legs to a 90 degree angle
  2. Point your toes up and align your knees while flexing your feet
  3. Inhale deeply and hold for a few seconds
  4. Keeping your lower back and abs supported, exhale slowly and fold forward reach your hands out to grab the outside of your feet, while you bring your chest to the floor
  5. Breath deeply while holding the pose for about a minute
  6. Exhale slowly, while gently coming back upright

Tips

  1. Remember to lengthen through your spine
  2. Make sure that your knee caps point upwards
  3. Don't allow your lower back to round
  4. Fold forward from your hips, not your waist
  5. Keep your legs engaged
  6. Move gently and at attentively and allow your mind to open up during the process
  7. Only bend forward as far as is comfortable, without experiencing any pain in your back
  8. If you have difficulty getting your chest to the floor, try lowering your forehead to the floor first, then your nose, and then your chin.  This will all help you progressively get your chest lower to the floor.
  9. If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly

Let your thoughts become calm, and really relax into this pose, as while it's a challenge, you will also feel really relaxed once you've mastered it. Centering your mind while performing Asana's helps you to get the most from your practice.

Once you've mastered Upavistha Konasana, you will be keen to keep adding new asana's to your practice, and we've given you 50 beginner yoga poses, with benefits, just for that purpose.

How to do Dandasana – staff pose

dandasana

Dandasana; Because You Need a Good Foundation.

Dandasana looks really simple, but it's important to make sure that you're doing it the right way, because it is the foundation of all seated poses. 

The name comes from sankrit, and it's meaning is; Danda "stick" Asana "posture".  Read more here.

It's so easy for your every day posture to fall into a habitual forward slump. Most of us suffer from poor posture, and staff pose helps correct that for us.

When the spine is straight and shoulder back, our breathing naturally becomes deeper and more regular. The nervous system will become relaxed and the mind and body are in greater alignment and harmony.

Regular practice of Dandasana will give you improved posture, and if you've had any discomfort sitting or standing for long periods it will help improve that as well.  So it's a great regular asana for anyone slaving in the office!

Some benefits of Dandasana (staff pose)

  • Improved posture
  • Stronger back muscles
  • Stretches the spine 
  • Stretches through the shoulders and chest
  • Can help alleviate back or sciatic pain
  • Improves core strength
  • Prevent tiredness of the feet and calf muscles
  • Helps improve digestion

Steps

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight and extend your legs out in front of you
  2. Now place your palms next to your hips flat on the floor. 
  3. Press your glutes into the floor and point the top of your head up to the ceiling to lengthen and straighten the back. 
  4. Inhale to lengthen your spine
  5. Keep breathing normally, and hold the pose for about 5 breaths or 30 seconds.

Tips

  1. Keep you heals in line with your hips
  2. Engage the soles of your feet, by pointing your toes back towards your body
  3. Draw your thigh bones in together and down towards the floor
  4. Think about lengthening the danda (staff) spine
  5. Draw your shoulder blades back towards each other
  6. Never flatten or round the lower back

If you've got really tight hamstrings you might find Dandasana difficult to do at first.  Try it sitting with your back up against a wall, or sit on a few blankets or books to elevate you a little more.

dandasana pose

Advanced Tips

  1. Take the pose into a forward bend; Known as Pashimottanasana
  2. Try challenging yourself to hold the pose for longer, keeping your legs fully engaged.

Seated staff pose is a great asana to include as part of your regular yoga practice.  If you are looking to strengthen your core, you can even try doing it while you are sitting watching TV or reading.

For more easy foundation yoga poses check out 50 beginner yoga poses with benefits.

Leg Workouts For Women – 20 Killer Leg Workouts

leg workouts for women

Leg Workouts For Women; Will Make You Fitter, Healthier And Stronger

Leg workouts for women embraces the new intelligent research about strength training for women, because it simply works!

I think you'll agree with me, you yearn for killer legs;

I know the feeling.  It's part of the daily struggle!

​But just keep reading, and I'll show you some of the best leg workouts that will, with some consistent effort, build the legs you've been dying for.

Why not for men too?

Well, there’s lots of guys who would get great benefits from these workouts, so don’t be put off because I said, “for women”. We love you to have strong legs too, and in fact some of these workouts are extremely hard for men.

No doubt about it!​

It’s just that I don’t think enough women really focus on doing great leg workouts. We all desire great legs, but go into any gym, and you’ll find guys hitting the heavy weights for their legs, but not so many girls. Perhaps too many think that their legs will “get big”.

Let’s dich that fallacy now. Working your legs hard will produce lean muscle that makes your legs appear toned, helps reduce any cellulite problems, and gives you killer calves for those occasions when you break out the high heals.

Leg workouts are full of blood sweat and tears.

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Hopefully not too much blood, but if you’re deadlifting heavy then shins have been known to bleed. But there’s so many benefits to be gained.

Just a couple of great benefits from leg workouts for women, include;

  • Big compound moves like squats and deadlifts will actually impact your whole body, engaging muscle fibres throughout and giving you maximum gains for your time spent.
  • The largest muscles in your body are in your legs, so they are actually capable of shifting heavier weights. And that means more calories burned if you’re looking to shed some kilos as well.
  • Because you’ve engaged the largest muscles in your body, the calorie burn will continue for longer after you finish training.
  • All explosive movements in sports, require strong legs. And they’ll really help you move through your average day with greater ease as well.
  • And really importantly, a great set of toned legs are going to look great in so many different outfits.

One of the best things that you can do to keep making progress with any physical training, is to add some variety, that way your body doesn’t;

1. Get too used to the same workout, which can then fail to stimulate improvement

2. Break down from over training with the same routine

Brett Contreras;

"If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak.  Being weak is dangerous." 

So, with that in mind, I’ve gone looking for some of the best leg workouts for women to be found online. This collection includes workouts from top trainers who know how to get results. I’ve selected my favourites based on the moves included, and providing plenty of different variety to keep you interested and challenged.

Some of these leg workouts are extremely hard routines to complete, and are only for advanced lifters, but others are ​easier for beginners or intermediate.  Start where you feel comfortable, and try the more advanced routines as you advance.

So, lets get started;

Click the title of each workout, which will open the trainers full post with detailed instructions about the leg workout​.

Leg Workouts For Women

Moves for Lean Sexy Legs

best leg exercises

Women’s health brings us this collection of seven moves, when you’re tired of lunges and squats.

The pistol squat might be a bit challenging for beginners, but persist and you’ll be cranking them out in no time.

The dumbbell split jump, or flying lunges as I like to call them, are one of my favourite exercises. It’s great for building explosive power, speed and athleticism.

A Girls Guide To Glam Hams

leg workouts for women

The team at bodybuilding dot com are really good at showing you how to smash out some great workouts. 

Here they're making some really good points on giving some focus to your hamstrings and glutes to balance the strength with your quads.

It's great to see them expressing the same thoughts about lifting heavy, and the risk of bulky legs. "​your muscles won't change unless they have a reason to."

I'd probably do more reps and less sets in these leg workouts, so you get through the workout in less time.​  And I'm not a big fan of the common 10 rep set.

 Andreia Brazier - Legs and Glutes Workout

As a four time fitness model world champion, Andreia Brazier is really worth listening to. 

She has some really interesting workouts, and mixes up exercises to keep things interesting, which I love.

There's some good exercises in this workout, which you can do with body weight alone as well.  so if you don't have access to a gym or weights, these are some great options.

Beauty And Booty Challenge: Lower Body Strength

Leg Workouts For Women

The Lauren Gleisberg beauty and booty challenge legs and glutes weights workout focuses on engaging the glutes before completing compound movements for maximum booty building effect. 

Depending how much weight you use for the dead lifts and sumo squats, this workout can be really challenging.

Lauren clearly loves fitness, and has some great content on her blog, so it's worth a visit.​

At Home Leg Exercises

leg workouts for women

These exercises from Spotebi are easy to complete at home, so it's a really handy workout if you don't have time to get to the gym or are travelling. 

Just slip into your favourite active wear, and give those legs a workout, wherever you are.

Muscle And Strength, Leg Training For Women

leg workouts for women

This is a great post, which covers some of the reasons that I mentioned above, why women should train legs hard.  

They also talk about progressive overload, which is a really important training principle if you want to make decent gains in strength and conditioning.  I've written more on that topic in this article.

​They've got three workouts, all giving you the chance to smash your leg day out, with some heavy weights.  I'd just increase the reps a lot more than they have, for the leg press.  I really believe in higher reps for leg press.  Try it, and see the results you get.

Gym Leg Workout

leg workouts for women

These leg exercises focus on shapely legs and a perfectly round booty.  Targeting your quads hamstrings and glutes. 

These are all great exercises in Jared's program.  I would just adjust the 10 reps to suite what you are really looking to achieve. Usually I would be doing higher reps than this.

Leg Press Lunacy Workout

leg workouts for women - leg press

Eric Broser has come up with a great workout, on the one machine, which really kills your quads.  

Leg Press.  Eric describes this workout as the "thigh thumper".

You can really shift a lot of weight doing leg press.  Keeping your back flat on the seat, pulling down hard and make sure that you are breathing out hard when pushing, and you'll keep your back secure and really work your quads and glutes.

​8-10 Reps is what is suggested here.  Again, I would go much higher than this, aiming for 30-50 on working sets.  

You might find it hard to walk out of the gym, but if you can get through this workout, with these higher reps, and heavy weight, then you will really feel the gains.

20 - Rep Squats 

leg workouts for women

This is a great post, which really explains squats, and primes you for completing high reps, which I love.  

If you want to get great results from the time you spend in the gym, then you need to be prepared to put yourself through some pain.  This workout will surely do that for you, and get you the results that follow.

David Whitley has done a great job detailing this workout, and even given some tips of what you should be eating if you are doing this type of hard training. I love it. 

And for once, I don't even need to say, that I would add more reps to each set:)​

Smolov Russian Squat Routine

leg workouts for women - back squat

This leg workout focuses entirely on squats for a thirteen week period.  

It's a really challenging program, that should only be attempted by experienced lifters.  So if you've been training for a year or more, and feeling like you've hit a plateau, then this program could be perfect to lift your intensity and achieve those gains you're chasing.

 ​The post has been written targeting guys, so some of the body weights and weights lifted won't be relevant to women.  They do note how to calculate your starting weight for the program though, so you can follow that as a guide, and if you're going to do this program, then you should have the experience to know your strength and lifting capacity. 

If you don't know, or want to re-confirm what your starting weight should be, you can use this handy one rep max calculator.

This is the type of workout which will grow lean muscle whilst also losing body fat, so remember to fuel your body with good nutrition while you're training on this program.

This routine is written up by Mehdi, who has a great web site, if you like lifting heavy, and want increased strength that can be maintained.  I love his site, and find lots of practical advice there, so do yourself a favour and check our Mehdi's story and have a look around his site here.

If you'd like a refresher on squat technique, or even the answer to questions about squats that have been on your mind, and no one has been able to answer, I recommend taking an hour and reading Mehdi's definitive guide to squats.

Russian Squat Routine

leg workouts for women

As leg exercises go, squats are king, and the Russian squat routine is famous for helping increase your strength. 

This is a six week squat program following nine sessions of progressive lifting.

You can use the simple calculator included in the post by Marc, to produce a program to follow.  The just have discipline and don't miss any sessions.​

There are debates about which produces better gains, the Russian squat routine or the Smolov routine.

For me, there is no doubt that the smolov routine is harder, and also produces greater gains in strength.  But you can't do that type of program all the time, and the Russian squat routine will also keep you advancing.

​In fact, if you haven't done this type of program before, I would suggest trying this before the Smolov routine. 

Plyometric Leg Exercises

Plyometric exercises are a great way to build more athletic speed and power.  And we all know that an athletic body looks great too.

You can mix these exercises in with your main leg training routine, to add variety of stimulus and a break from the intensity if you are doing one of the heavy squat programs.

For example, you can train squats early in the week, then with a day in between to recover, do a plyometric leg workout.​

Or simply include some plyometric exercises in a more general whole body routine, like the circuit that I'm doing in the video above.​

​I love doing the box jumps.  It's one of my favourite leg exercises.

Stiff Legged Dead Lift

leg workouts for women

Women's quads are normally stronger and more developed than the hamstring.  So we need to make sure we're putting some focus on developing strong hamstrings as well.

Apart from the athletic benefits, having well developed hamstrings will really give you nice athletic looking shapely legs.​ So what's not to like.

These routines from Bodybuilding.com focus on the stiff legged dead life, which is a great exercise to develop the hamstring.

Try any of the suggested routines.  They are all challenging, and therefore worthwhile.​

Ed Coan Dead Lift Routine

leg workouts for women - dead lifts

Dead lifts are an amazingly effective compound exercise, that will engage every muscle fiber in your body. 

They are primarily a  back and legs exercise, and really could not be overlooked in any decent strength training routine focused on legs.

The Ed Coan routine is for intermediate to advanced lifters.

You will be dead lifting once a week, for a duration of ten weeks completing this program. So you will still be able to mix in other training sessions that you would normally complete.

​Dead lifts are really hard work, but every time I complete a training cycle including dead lifts, I can really notice the increase in strength again. 

For a good critique of the Ed Coan routine, this is a really good write up which while focused on power lifting, explains this routine really well, and will give you a better understanding of what this routine is about.  go here to read.​

Dead Lifting For Beginners

While I've just thrown the Ed Coan routine at you, I thought it important here to include something on dead lifting, for less experienced lifters. 

This post from Nerdfitness explains the basics of dead lifting well, and will get you started.

And the following  great video by the Buff Dudes nails it for explaining good technique.

The only tips I would add to that are, that you should wear a weight lifting belt always while deadlifting.  It's not being weak.  It supports your lower back, and gives your abs something to push against, so you can exert more power, and lift heavier. 

While not as critical as a weight belt, I'd also suggest using lifting straps.  They really help you to grip the bar, so that it's not your grip which is the weakest link making you fail on high rep sets or with really heavy weight.  You are focusing on working your major muscles, not building a stronger hand.​

The following video by Darin Starr provides a really good explanation on how to use lifting straps.​

If you are just beginning I would suggest incorporating dead lifts on one day a week, as part of your broader overall program. ​

Start out conservatively, make sure you get the technique correct, before you start pulling too much weight, or progressing to the harder dead lift programs.​

Best Calf Building Workout

leg workouts for women

We all know that great calves look super sexy, but do we even spend much time working on them in the gym?

Probably not.

Well, Bodybuilding.com have done a great job with this post on the best calf building workout.

If you don't want to spend so much time focusing on building great calves, I find that simply doing as many standing calf raises as I can without rest in one set, after my normal leg day workout, will really hit my calves. ​

Front Squat For Impressive Legs

leg workouts for women - front squat

I've already given you some killer workouts doing back squats, but writing about leg workouts wouldn't be complete without including front squats.

Front squats really work your quads, and we all know that having impressive quads will give you a great athletic look.​

​This post from Robertson Training Systems provides a really good explanation of front squatting.  They pretty much address every question that you could think of, so it's a great resource.  Read it twice, before you try front squats.

They provide some examples of simply front squat routines to get started with as well.

You ​can integrate front squats into your overall program.  For example, complete back squats on the first training day, then front squats on the third training day. 

Or, use front squats as a variant, when you've finished a heavy cycle of back squats. ​

​Again, I like to keep reps high, with decent weight, starting with a warm up set at 50% of 1RM, and then ranging between 70% to 90% of my 1 RM for working sets.

Body Weight Exercises For Stronger Legs

leg workouts for women

Calisthenics can be really challenging for the legs, building resilient muscles.  They can also build beautiful athletic legs.

​Think boxers, who do lots of calisthenic exercises like skipping, jumps, sprints and generally as they're moving around in the ring.  They need really resilient strong legs.  If their legs are gone, then it's usually goodnight, lights out. 

Tod Kuslikis of ​Shot of Adrenaline wrote this great post, which explains 55 different body weight exercises for legs. 

It's a great resource if you're interested in building great legs, without weights.  He's included progress charts, workouts, how to train instructions and recovery tips.

So, if you're short on time, or just don't like going to a gym, you'll find plenty of great leg exercises here to develop athletic pins.

I personally like doing pistol squats and Bulgarian spit-squats.

Tod has even written another great post on how to develop muscular legs with body weight training, including an example routine.  You can read it here.

​More Calisthenics For Athletic Legs

leg workouts for women

If you thought that the best leg workouts for women would only include weight room training, then I hope you're happily proven wrong.

Body weight workouts are really convenient, as you can crank them out pretty much anywhere, and just try some of these moves, and if you didn't before, you'll realise how effective they are as well.​

Jeff Cowan of Body Weight Training Arena brings us this post with more calisthenic workouts to make your legs burn.

​There's great explanations of the different leg exercises and example routines that you can follow, or put something together that suites your time and goals.

Pilates Butt And Thigh Workout

If heaving heavy iron or holding pistol squats isn't your thing, then it doesn't mean you can't still work those legs. 

Pilates exercises can be great, even mixed in with a regular strength training program which is more focused on weights.

The following routine from Fitness Blender includes some great moves for the legs and glutes.

Optimize Post Workout Recovery

leg workout recovery

Whichever leg workouts for women you choose to follow, your legs will be sore.  It's important to also spend some time and proper planning on post workout recovery.

Without proper recovery, your body won't be restored enough to achieve maximum effort and results from the following workouts.

It's good practice anyway, but particularly with some of the harder workouts like Smolov or the Russian squat routine, it is a must.  Or you just won't get through the program.

This post from Onnit Acadamy includes 10 great tips for post workout recovery.

The best tip here for me is, sleep!

​Sleep is so important. It's when the body does most of it's recovery, and yet is often overlooked in our busy lives

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Make sure you get a good eight hours sleep, and feel the difference it makes.​

What's the one real secret to getting the best results from these leg workouts for women?

As with all proper training;

 progressive overload will ensure that you achieve meaningful results. ​ You can apply this principle to these workouts, by progressing from easier workouts to the more challenging ones, or working on increasing the intensity of a particular leg workout.

I hope that you enjoy trying some of these workouts, or at least enjoy the results that will come from doing them consistently.

And for some great recipes to fuel your body the right way, try some of these 31 healthy clean eating recipes. 

Let me know in the comments below, about any other good leg workouts that you like?​

Here's to, HAPPY LEG DAY!​