Pre-note: First and foremost, I hope all of you had a blessed Christmas and I wish you a happy new year to-be. Now, let’s get down to business Face it, the holiday season put a damper on your physique. Multiple days of drinking, lounging, and stuffing your face has you feeling “fluffy”, for lack of better words (although I can think of a few). You could loath your current situation, and constantly remind yourself of the weight you’ve gained, or you could see it as a boost, almost as a challenge per-say. Extra calories and extra weight aren’t always a bad thing, in fact, they can lead to exceptional muscle and strength increases. So why not capitalize on this silver lining? What a better way to begin this challenge and this new year than a killer leg day.
Cardiovascular machine- 5min-10min: I would suggest a bike on a moderate resistance, since peddling places a greater amount of focus on the quads/hamstrings. Do not go overboard, because you do not want to hinder your lifting performance.
Dynamic/mobility routine- 5-10 minutes: This routine should consist of multi-joint, large muscle group movements that favor/mimic that of the workout below. You should work on passive motions in the joints to a range of motion close to functional limits. Remember, this should be moderately intense, do not go overboard. Examples of this warm up can be found at the bottom of the page.
Light warm-up sets- 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with very moderate weight. This will familiarize the movement, and bring blood to the lower body.
Volume squats: 3×20; 180s rests
Set-up: This is a basic squat in terms of set up.You will need a squat rack, and a barbell. Do not feed your ego, or you will be checked real quick! Feet just wider than shoulder width, or wider if you have low hip or hamstring flexibility.
Execution: Brace your core and exhale the air, the more rigid your mid-section, the better. Begin the movement in your hips, followed by movement in your knees. Allow torso to lean slightly forward in order to distribute weight into your mid-foot. Make sure your spine stays neutral, and you avoid an excessive pelvic tilt (hip tilt) in either direction. When your upper leg is parallel with the floor, explode drive through the legs, with an emphasis in a hip thrust.
Tips: The squat is a highly technical lift, which varies between people depending on body structure, flexibility, and muscular balance. The bar
position can also be a determinant in the mechanics (see image i-1).
Bulgarian split squat: 3×15; superset with next lift
Set-up: You will need a platform or bench to place your back foot on. Use a shorter platform if you have tight quad muscles, and a taller platform if your quads are more flexible. You may use a barbell or dumbbells. I personally like using a barbell so you can focus on your legs, and not your arms as well. However, if you have bad balance, I would advise dumbbells.
Execution: This is where things get tricky. Begin by facing away from the platform/bench, while standing 1.5 or 2 feet away. With confidence, raise one of your legs backward until your foot can be placed on the platform.
While keeping your body weight solely in the leading leg (remember the back foot is only for balance). Begin the movement with a squat movement that sits back towards the bench, this will keep your knee from moving past your front foot. Then drive through the middle of your foot, and your hips. Stop just before lockout.
Tips: Much like squatting, this movement requires balance, technique, and balance. Do not lockout your knees at the top of the motion; instead, keep the motion continuous throughout the set. If done right, you will feel the focus in your glutes and hamstrings.
High-and-wide leg press: 3×15; 2.5min. rest
Set-up: You will need a leg press machine. Place your feet close to the top of the sled and fairly wide, with toes pointed out at a slight angle. Place less weight than you normally do, and even less if you are one to load it excessively.
Execution: After releasing the clamps, slowly lower the weight towards your body, with the weight placed into your heels. Place a mental
emphasis in your hamstrings and glutes, while going into a controlled deep range of motion. Then press in the same fashion, focusing on the drive being generated from those muscles as well.
Tips: Your flexibility may limit how high you place your feet. Test this by examining your hips during the bottom of the movement. If they curl forward, you may need to place your feet lower. Also, I find grasping your hamstrings with your hands helps to mentally emphasize the hamstring focus.
DB RDL (straight leg dead lift): 3×20; 120s rest
Set-up: Grab two dumbbells, and find an open area in the gym. Feet should be shoulder width, or closer. I prefer using a belt to help and keep the lower back neutral.
Execution: While standing with your weight in your heels, and knees slightly bent, begin to bend over with the motion coming from your hips only (do not round back). Bend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings as if you were reaching for your toes, or the point just before your back
would roll. Then move back up, emphasizing the movement from a hip drive. The dumbbells should hang in your relaxed arms, and kept as close to your body as possible for the entire motion.
Tip: As mentioned before, keep the dumbbells close to the body. I prefer to slowly bend, emphasizing the stretch in the hamstrings. I find keeping the head upright, so that you make eye contact through a mirror during the motion can help keep the spine neutral.
Standing hamstring curl on the leg ext. machine: 3×15; 120s
Set-up: You will need a leg extension machine, and a 25lbs plate. Set the weight the lowest setting at first, and adjust as needed. Place the 25lb plate on the ground for the non-working leg to stand on. This keeps the working leg elevated to avoid dragging during the motion.
Execution: stand facing
towards the machine (should feel backwards), between the foot pad and the seat pad. While bracing for balance, curl the ankle upward, and bending the knee while flexing
the hamstring. Keep the hips relatively straight during the curl, do not excessively lean forward. Inhale on the eccentric motion, and exhale on the concentric.
Tips: This is a squeeze focused lift, so hold the squeeze for 1-2s at the top of the rep each time.You may need to set the foot pad to its lowest setting. Also, you may find that even the lowest weight is still too hard. Don’t worry, that’s just a new goal to work for!
This concludes the workout
- Do 1-2 stretch variations for each major body part
- 3-5 repetitions per stretch
- 10-20s second hold each
Use a dense foam roller/ softball to loosen and release tension that may have resulted from the high volume above.
You had another healthy workout.
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