LOWER BODY GAINZ! WITH FIGURE & ATHLETIC PRO VANESSA CAMPOS
By Vanessa Campos // Intro By Ben Yosef // Michael Brooks Photography // Hair and Makeup by Wandaful Cafaro
IPL PRO Vanessa Campos has an incredible physique. I met her during the fall of 2015 as she was prepping to compete in the first, ever, IPL contest event. The 2015 NaturalMag Classic.
I was very impressed with her look, and a year and three IPL shows later I am still in awe of this powerhouse of an athlete. This past March Vanessa competed in the IPL Natural Gainz Magazine Classic where she placed 1st in Open Figure and Open Athletic. The following day she had a GAINZ-worthy photo shoot with renowned photographer, Michael Brooks. The focus was on one of Campos’ standout body parts, her legs.
The following details four movements that this champion athlete incorporates in order to present such incredible wheels.
Rear Leg Lift from a Split Squat
“This is a great exercise in balance, which is excellent for building a strong center and core as well as hitting the bum!”
- Start in the split squat position, making sure the legs are hip distance apart, and the majority of your weight is on the front leg.
2. With proper posture and the core engaged, lower into the split squat by bending the back knee, keep the front shin perpendicular to the foot/floor.
3. On the ascent, keeping most of your weight on the front foot, lift the rear leg keeping it as straight as possible. You should focus on contracting the glute of the rear leg and the quad of the standing leg, while maintaining proper and erect posture.
You may want to add an extra pulse of the leg to give the booty a little more isometric contraction before, carefully and with control, dropping back to the split squat.
“This is more of a core and hip mobility exercise.”
- Starting in a full plank position, with the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, bring one leg into a forward, low lunge, placing the foot behind the heel of the hand.
2. Hold for a beat and then return the foot to the plank position.
When bringing the knee forward, you have to think about deepening the navel-to-spine connection to maintain the square position. You want to avoid allowing the hips to twist or drop, and keep the spine long. To advance this move, “jump” the knee in and the “jump” to switch the legs. It is similar to a mountain climber, but the knees go into a more external rotation in this exercise. Another way to advance this move would be to add a push-up once you return to plank.
“Doing squats with weight on my back is too painful and aggravates the issue. I perform Goblet Squats instead.”
- Make sure the majority of the body weight is distributed between the arches of the feet and the heels.
2. The knees are tracking in the same direction as the toes, driving the hips back with the chest lifted.
3.The shoulders are down away from the ears, and the core is engaged.
I have had chronic sciatica since I was pregnant with my 2nd son. Doing squats with weight on my back is too painful and aggravates the issue. I perform Goblet Squats instead. I focus on moving slowly on both the descent and the ascent, and hold for 3 counts at the bottom of the squat. I aim to use a weight heavy enough to perform 10-15 reps for my first set, increase the weight for the next and aim for 6-10 reps, and for my third and final set, increase the weight again and aim of 1-5 reps max.
Sumo Squat Jumps
“I love power moves, and plyometrics are a great way to build power and strength.”
- Start in a stance slightly wider than hip distance apart, with the hips, legs and feet in external rotation. Always be sure that you are in proper posture and the core is engaged.
2. Go into a deep sumo squat, driving the hips back and the knees out, tracking in the same direction as the toes.
3. From the bottom of the squat, jump high into the air with an exhale, keeping the chest lifted, extend the legs and feet to engage the quads.
4. Maintain posture and the core engagement as you descend, landing back down all the way into the squat. Never land on straight legs.
I love power moves, and plyometrics are a great way to build power and strength.
Lower body has always been the most challenging for me to see visible results. I have strong and powerful legs from being a dancer and from sports, like soccer and skiing, but they have never been shredded. In the past couple of years I have made legs and glutes more of a focus in my training to balance them out with my more lean and defined upper body.
By doing exercises like these within a HIIT(high intensity interval training) workout once a week and doing more focused strength work in reps and sets once a week, I have been able to reshape and lean out my legs and lift and round out my glutes.
There is always room for improvement, but I am pleased that with each competition I do I see those small improvements happening. I still don’t love leg days, but as the saying goes, “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” GAINZ