The thigh gap--that space between the upper thighs that has come to symbolize yet another fabricated beauty trend--is attractive and desirable to some, but make no bones (femur, or otherwise) about it: There's nothing sexier than a pair of tree-trunk thighs that threaten to bust your trousers. Not only do powerful legs complement a well-balanced physique, they'll come in handy when you have to run from whatever new calamity these trying times may throw at you. Stick to these tips from personal trainer Daniel Rice, which will limber up those quads and hammies, and you'll never want to skip leg day again.
Eat Big If you're looking for bigger muscles, you have to feed the machine. "I always recommend eating something big before the workout and 45 minutes after the workout," says Rice, whom you'll probably catch cruising through the drive-in at Dunkin'. "My go-to meal for extra empty calories is doughnuts!" he says. "I mean, of course you need to eat clean all day, but this is just extra calories for extra size, and you'll be putting all that energy into your thighs."
Lift Heavy Rice suggests going heavy on Olympic lifts like squats and deadlifts. But there's no need to be a hero, especially with the risk of injury. Always use proper form, don't be afraid to ask for a spot from fellow gymmers, and make sure you're properly warmed up before attempting heavy weights. You might also want to use a weight-lifting belt if you have lower-back issues.
Hit the Adductors The adductors are the muscles on the inside of your thighs that help you squeeze them together (not to be confused with the abductors, the outer hip muscles which help to pull your thighs apart). To help you remember which is which, think about dropping down and getting your eagle on: The abductors will get you to full spread eagle, while the adductors, and maybe a prayer, will help you get back up. The adductors, though, also give great overall size to the quads. "While viewing them from the front, the muscle bellies of the adductors lie in three layers," says Rice, "which give that illusion of bigger thighs."
Don't Forget Cardio "I know most people don't want to hear this, but you gotta do your cardio," says Rice. "It allows oxygen to the muscle and increases blood flow to create greater growth." But to grow those upper stems, you can't do just any cardio--you're going to need speed and resistance. Rice opts for spinning and cycling.
Here, some of Rice's favorite exercises to bridge those thigh gaps, recommended for 2 to 3 times a week with 2 to 3 days of rest in between:
1. Low-bar squats: 75 percent of your personal record (PR), 3 reps for 5 sets with 2-3 minutes' rest in between. Note: The bar should rest on your shoulder blades.
2. Squat-stance deadlifts: 75 percent of your PR, 3 reps for 5 sets with 2-3 minutes' rest in between. Note: This stance targets the inner thighs more.
3. Sumo squats: moderate weight, 10-15 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute of rest in between. Note: You can do this with a barbell on your back or a dumbbell between your legs.
4. Barbell walking lunges: moderate weight, 20 reps for 3 sets with 2 minutes' rest in between.
5. Split squats: just body weight, 20 reps, 3 sets with 2 minutes' rest in between. Note: No need to go heavy since you already did on the squats and deadlifts.
6. Spinning: 60 percent resistance or more, 10-20 minutes, out of the saddle for 3 minutes at a time.