Before, I've realized that I put too many leg exercises in these classes. I also thought that maybe the leg work was a bit excessive -- until I realize that the biggest calorie-burners are the leg muscles!
In fact, if you really want to lose fat, you need to incorporate more leg exercises into your routine!
The bigger the muscle, the more fat it burns. Muscle needs fuel to work and it gets that fuel from fat, especially since fat covers the muscles. So, if you want to lose fat, you need to work those muscles. But what's more important is that you focus on the RIGHT muscles.
Your biceps are two small muscles in your arms. They don't require a lot of fat for fuel. This means that if you just spend time working on your biceps, you would see very little weight-loss results. You would definitely see more tone since the biceps have very little fat surrounding it. But if you want overall weight-loss, the biceps are the wrong muscles to focus on.
Core exercises such as crunches, planks, and back extensions involve small muscle groups. Yes, they burn fat but not as much OVERALL fat that you'd like.
The legs, however, make up the largest muscle group in your body. Your butt muscles are actually THE largest muscle group in the body, and when you add the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, then you're talking about the secret weapon for overall fat burn!
Compare your biceps to your hamstring muscles. Both muscle groups do the same thing: your biceps flex the elbow and your hamstrings flex the knee. Your hamstrings are also called your leg biceps and they are made of three long muscles located behind your thighs. You only have two short muscles in your biceps. You have three LARGE muscles in your hamstrings. Which one would burn more fat? Obviously, the hamstrings.
Compare your triceps to your quadriceps. They both do the same thing: the triceps extend the elbows and your quadriceps extend the knee. Your triceps have three small muscles. Your quads have four VERY LARGE muscles. Which would would burn more fat?
Compare your forearms to your calve and shin muscles. They both do the same thing: your forearms flex or extend the wrists and your calves/shins flex or extend the ankles. Yet the calf/shin muscles are one of the most durable muscles in the body because it is supporting over 90 percent of your body!
Now add the butt into the mix and you have the perfect ingredient for weight-loss!
Squats mainly work the quads and the butt. If your squat stance is narrow with your feet under the hips, you put more work in the quads. The wider your feet, the more pressure you put in the butt.
Lunges isolate the quads and the butt more than squats, making lunges harder than squats. But lunges are also better able to shape and tone your legs since they better isolate your leg muscles than squats.
Jumps activate the hamstring muscles more so than squats and lunges. In addition to flexing the knee, the hamstrings also extend the hips -- or in other words, the hamstrings help you with explosive movements such as kicks and jumps.
Your calves work hard regardless of the exercises, but I find that they work harder when you do lunges or calf raise exercises.
Now the thing about the legs is that they are VERY strong and VERY durable. If you want serious weight-loss results, you need to go HARD on those legs.
I teach BodyPump at a gym and pack on some serious weight during the squat track. However, as big as that weight is, it didn't take long for that weight to feel light to me. And despite the big weight, I only see minimum changes in my legs. I see participants in my BodyPump classes lifting significantly LESS squat weight than I am, and I know they won't see ANY changes in their legs. Your legs are very tough and they require A LOT of work if they are going to burn serious amounts of fat.
As apart of your weight-loss fitness routine, put more focus on leg exercises. Personally, I don't like leg exercises! I'd much rather do push-ups and pull-ups. But, working the legs would keep your fat levels in check -- plus keep knee joints in good shape!