Leg Training Advice For Wellness Competitors

The world of women’s bodybuilding keeps growing to address lifters with unique goals. One of the newest additions is a wellness division recognized by the National Physique Committee and IFBB Professional League

While there is some overlap between divisions, each one has unique elements and goals. For example, the lower body is the star in a wellness competition. Let’s dig into the finer points of wellness competitions and how to get your legs in top competition form.

Are You Planning to Compete in the Wellness Division?

If you’re interested in entering a wellness competition, it helps to know how it differs from other divisions and what the judges look for in terms of physique. 

What Is a Wellness Competition?

A wellness competition showcases an athletic physique with a focus on more mass through the lower body, especially the hips, glutes, and thighs. Athletes should have some development through the upper body, but not as defined as the lower body.

Finding Your Class

Competitions can have two, three, or four height classes depending on the breakdown. It depends on the number of classes the competition has. For example, if there are two, it would break out like this:

  • Class A: up to 5’4”
  • Class B: over 5’4”

However, if the competition had enough entrants for four classes, the categories would look like this:

  • Class A: up to and including 5’2”
  • Class B: over 5’2” up to and including 5’4”
  • Class C: over 5’4” up to and including 5’6”
  • Class D: over 5’6”

The Importance of Posing

Many competitors work with coaches on more than weight training. Posing is a critical part of any bodybuilding competition that requires practice and preparation.

In the wellness division, the starting position is face front, quarter turn right, quarter turn rear, and quarter turn right to give judges various views of the athlete’s physique. Each pose has specific requirements for arm and hand placement to highlight every muscle from the shoulder to the calf while highlighting the thigh area.

What’s the Difference Between Figure and Wellness Divisions?

Figure competitors should have more developed shoulders and arms than ladies in the wellness division. Figure competitors should also have less definition and a leaner appearance throughout the lower body than you would see in the wellness division.

What’s the Difference Between Bikini and Wellness Divisions?

A wellness competitor should have slightly more muscle mass than a bikini competitor who focuses on looking lean. You’ll see similar abs, slightly more definition in the arms and shoulders, and noticeably more developed lower body musculature in the wellness division.

Swimsuit guidelines, shoe and heel rules, and jewelry rules are the same in the wellness and bikini divisions. Wellness competitors cannot use “glazed” oil whereas bikini and figure competitors can.

How Do You Train Your Legs for Wellness?

The lower body is key in the wellness division, which means developing a killer leg workout that builds muscle mass with less concern about eliminating body fat. There should be definition and separation without striation. 

Quad Training For Wellness Competitors

An athlete’s quads should look athletic with minimal separations and no striations. To achieve the right look, athletes need to focus on developing shape and overall muscle mass. That means heavy training and hitting the quads from various angles.

One characteristic of a wellness competition is a pronounced sweep. Try using a closed stance and turned-in toes to work those areas during some exercises. For example, slightly rotating the femurs and pointing the toes inward during leg extensions stimulate the outer quad muscles.

Top exercises for building that sweep include targeted leg extensions, hack squats, and narrow-stance leg presses.

Glute Training For Wellness Competitors

Judges want to see full round glutes. Athletes should have a separation between the glute and hamstring without striations. Getting that desirable shape takes effort and the right combination of exercises.

Wellness athletes who want well-rounded glutes need to focus on three primary exercises: barbell squats, leg press, and hack squats.

Barbell squats are a no-brainer for lower body workouts. Either use a bar across your shoulders or a dumbbell in each hand and go to work.

For leg presses, vary the workout by switching between body weight, resistance bands, and various machines. Altering the way you leg press adds variety to your workout and creates a balanced approach that addresses your muscles in different ways.

Finally, hack squats may be the best option for getting the full round glutes you desire. They also target the hamstrings to build mass along the backs of the legs.

Hamstring Training For Wellness Competitors

Again, judges want to see some separation but no striation, so you can’t neglect the hamstrings. It helps to stimulate the hamstrings during warmups so that you feel them more during the other exercises.

Romanian deadlifts may be the ideal exercise for working the hamstrings, but a clean deadlift, power snatch, or hang snatch will do if you need variety. Include lying leg curls and Bulgarian split squats to increase definition and mass. 

Calves Training For Wellness Competitors

Though wellness competitions focus on the sweep and well-rounded glutes, athletes can’t neglect their calves. Women wear heels and each pose highlights the calves enough that it can make a difference to the judges. Again, the calves should have mass and definition that flows with the rest of the leg.

To work the calves, choose exercises that focus on the backs of the legs. Vary your stance to target the calves from all angles for a more balanced appearance. Some of the best options include the narrow-stance leg press, Bulgarian split squats, and single-leg calf raises with an isometric hold.

Tips When Training Legs for Wellness Competition 

Lower body development is crucial for any wellness competitor, and these tips should help refine and maximize your workout.

Vary the Weight

It helps to start with lighter weights and move into progressive reps with speed variations to increase the challenge. 

Switch Speeds

Varying speed is an important strategy for hitting the muscles at every angle and building muscle. For example, move slower through five reps, then pick up the speed for five more, then drop back down to a slow pace. Another way to vary the speed is to take it slow on half of the rep and pick up the speed on the other half. 

Engage the Core and Glutes

Wellness competitors need abs for the competition, but engaging the core also provides stability through the exercises and increases power.

Always engage the glutes during lower body exercises to support pushing without stressing the knees. It also builds the sweep to get the muscle mass and definition desired.

Use Different Stances 

Altering your stance can change how an exercise works your muscles. It’s also an opportunity to reduce knee strain and put extra work on the muscles. For example, keeping pressure on the outside of the foot during a leg press prevents the knees from turning in and reduces the risk of injury.

Take Care of Your Body

Pushing your body through these exercises to build muscle and strength is for nothing if you don’t take care of it. Pay close attention to after-workout care, like stretching, rolling, and hydrating. Don’t neglect sports nutrition as part of your training regimen.

IFBB and NPC Wellness Competition Coaching

Building the right wellness division leg workout isn’t easy because it has to account for every muscle group individually and create an appropriate balance of mass and definition. 

If you want to compete and can’t seem to get the lower body definition you desire, it may be worth working with a wellness bodybuilding coach. They can create a custom bodybuilding workout routine that addresses your individual needs to get in competition shape.

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