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Men have a certain affinity for women with long luscious legs. It's the reason women wear high heels, which add to the illusion of longer lower limbs. In this day and age of fitter physiques, however, it's not enough to have length. Your legs must also have shape if you want men and women, for that matter to do double takes when you wear shorts or a miniskirt.

The desire for shapely gains may he a direct offshoot of athletic women becoming more prominent in the public eye. Just as Jackie Kennedy's pillbox hat caused sales to skyrocket in the '60s.

Now when you're talking muscular legs, you can't ignore the squat. If you want to get shapely legs as quickly as possible, you have to get comfortable holding a bar on your back, sinking down until your upper thighs break parallel, and then powering yourself back to a standing position. This isn't an easy exercise, but that's what makes it so effective. When it comes to weight training, the harder the exercise, the better, in most cases.

The reason the squat is so effective and difficult is that you work a number of muscles at the same time, including the entire upper thighs plus the good old glutes for an added bottom-blasting bonus. This exercise more than any other can change the entire look of your body.

Two additional exercises you should incorporate are sissy squats and leg extensions. The sissy squat works your frontal thigh muscles in the complete stretch position, and the leg extensions enable you to finish off these muscles with hard contractions. These three movements add up to shapely muscle fast.

As for the backs of your thighs, or your hamstrings, two movements will give you the look you're after stiff-legged deadlifts, which also train your glutes, and leg curls, the number-one exercise for contracting your hamstrings. When you add a little muscle to the backs of your upper thighs, your legs will take on an added shapeliness from the side.

We can't stop with the upper leg, however. Thin, spindly lower legs detract from overall lower-body appearance, so don't neglect your calves. The best exercises include standing calf raises, leg press calf raises and seated calf raises, the latter of which work the soleus, a muscle lying under the gastrocnemius, which is the larger, heart-shaped muscle commonly called the calf.

Here's how your sexy leg workout looks:

Front thighs, or quads
Flat-footed squats 2 x 8-10
Sissy squats 2 x 8-10
Leg extensions 1 x 8-l0

Hamstrings
Stiff-legged deadlifts 2 x 8-10
Leg curls 1 x 8-l0

Calves
Leg press calf raises 2 x 10-20
Standing calf raises 1 x 10-20
Seated calf raises 2 x 10-20

Use this routine twice a week, rest two to three minutes between sets or less if you're already in decent cardiovascular shape and your calves and thighs will have the power to hypnotize.

Sexy Leg Exercises

Flat-Footed Squats - Place a loaded bar across7 your shoulders. Be sure it's resting across your rear deltoid heads and your traps. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width with your feet angled out at about 45 degrees. Look straight ahead and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Without pausing, drive up to the starting position. Tip: For more glute focus think about reaching back with your butt as you lower yourself.

Sissy Squats - Hold onto an upright with one hand and bend your knees, keeping your thighs and torso on the same plane and leaning back as far as possible. Don't bend at the waist. (At the bottom you'll be in position to do the limbo.) Your knees will go forward, and you'll get a tremendous stretch in your thighs when you get to the bottom. Tip: Put a two-by-four under your heels for balance and hold a plate on your chest with your free hand when you get strong enough.

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts - Stand erect holding a loaded barbell, with your hands hanging at arm's length. Arch your lower back slightly, and while maintaining this slight arch, bend forward, allowing the bar to hang from your arms. When the bar reaches mid-shin level, reverse your movement and pull back to the starting position. Tip: To keep tension on your glutes, drive up to just short of erect.

Leg Curls - Lie facedown on the leg curl machine and place the backs of your lower legs against the roller pads. Curl your lower legs up, keeping your feet flexed toward your legs, until the pads touch your buttocks. Hold for a count of two, lower and repeat. Tip: To prevent too much hip movement, support your upper body on your elbows.

Leg Press Calf Raises - Position yourself on a seated leg press machine, place the balls of your feet on the foot plate and extend your legs until your knees are locked. Press the foot plate up with calf power alone. Return to the stretch position and twitch the calf muscles to initiate the next rep. Tip: Keep your knees locked to minimize soleus involvement.

Standing Calf Raises - Position yourself on a standing calf machine with your shoulders under the pads and the balls of your feet on the raised foot plate. Drive up until your calves are flexed, hold for a count of two, then slowly release, sinking to the bottom of the calves' range of motion before you begin the next rep. Tip: Once again, keep your knees locked. Also, you can do these one leg at a time holding a dumbbell in one hand.

Seated Calf Raises - Position yourself on a seated calf machine with your knees under the pads and bent at 90 degrees. Drive up until your calves are flexed, hold for a count of two, then slowly release, sinking to the bottom of the range of motion before you begin your next rep. Tip: Turn your feet at a slight outward angle to make the movement more comfortable.

 

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