Workout 52: Legs & Abs


Leg Exercises

1. Leg Press

  1. Using the leg press machine, sit down with your back and head against the padded support and place your feet on the footplate. Your feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart and aligned with your hips. 
  2. Unlock the safety bars holding the platform and press the platform all the way up until your legs are fully extended without locking your knees. Grasp the handles during the movement.
  3. Slowly lower the platform until your thighs and calves create a 90° angle.
  4. Drive the heels of your feet into the platform and press up using your quadriceps.
  5. When complete, ensure to lock the safety pins properly and lock the safety bars. 

2. Barbell Squat

  1. Find a squat rack and set the height of the bar slightly beneath your shoulders. Stand with your feet at about hip-width apart. Step up to the bar, move under it, and grip it with an overhand grip. The barbell should be supported on top of your traps. 
  2. Your chest should be up and your head facing forward. Once the bar is on your back, stand up, flex your core, tighten your glutes, and step away from the rack. 
  3. Begin squatting by lowering yourself until your legs reach a 90° angle and your thighs are parallel to the ground.  Your knees will move forward, but ensure that they stay aligned with your feet. 
  4. While keeping your torso upright, drive your heels into the ground to push yourself back up.

3. Hip Thrust

  1. Using a barbell or heavy dumbbell, select an amount of weight you’re comfortable with. 
  2. Place your body under the barbell or put the dumbbell on the upper part of your thighs, using a bench to support your back, neck, and head behind you.
  3. Keep your feet on the floor and directly under your knees so that when you extend, you’ll make a 90-degree angle. 
  4. Using your glute muscles, raise the barbell up from the floor.r primarily using your glute muscles. 
  5. Repeat the motion until the set is complete.  

*It is VERY important to focus on contracting your glute muscles throughout this movement - make use of the mind-muscle connection! If you need to, slightly move your feet to see if you can get your glutes to fire. 

*Make sure to maximize the full range of motion, going all the way up with your hips before coming back down slowly!

*If you’re unsure what weight you’re comfortable with, start off with something very light and see how it feels. Add to it until you find that comfortable but difficult weight level

*You can use a pad or a towel under the bar for comfort.

4. Weighted Lunge

Caution: This movement requires a great deal of balance, so if you lack balance or are suffering from an injury that affects your balance, use your own bodyweight while holding on to a fixed object.

  1. Stand with your torso upright and hold one dumbbell in each hand at arm's length.
  2. Step forward with your right foot (about 2 feet or so) as you lower your body down and squat through your hips. Make sure that your left foot remains stationary and that you are maintaining your balance. Do not allow your right knee to move beyond your toes as you come down. Keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Using mainly the heel of your foot, drive yourself back up to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat the movement for your left leg.

5. Calf Raise

Caution: If you suffer from lower back problems, a better exercise would be the calf press. With this exercise, your back has to support the weight being lifted. Additionally, your back needs to be straight and still at all times. If you round your back, this can cause a lower back injury.

  1. Start by adjusting the padded lever to fit your height on the standing calf raise machine.
  2. Place your shoulders under the pads and position your toes forward with your feet shoulder-width apart. The balls of your feet should be on top of the calf block and your heels should be extending off the end.
  3. Push the weight up by extending your knees until you’re standing erect. Your knees should have a slight bend and never be fully locked.
  4. While flexing your calves, push through the balls of your feet to raise your heels. There should be no bending in your knees at any time. Hold for a second before you begin to return back down.
  5. Slowly lower your heels and the weight as you bend your ankles until you feel a stretch in your calves. 

Ab Exercises


1. Standing Oblique Cable Crunch

  1. Start off standing with your side next to a high pulley cable machine with a grip attachment connected to the machine.
  2. Grasp the handle with one of your hands, with your feet shoulder width apart and the other arm rested at your side.
  3. Slowly pull down with the arm grasping the cable with your obliques until you feel a stretch in your abs.
  4. Return back to the starting position and repeat. Only when you’re done with one side, move to the opposite side. 
  5. Repeat! 

2. Bicycle Crunch

  1. Lie flat with your lower back pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your head slightly above your neck. Lift your shoulders into a crunch position.
  2. Raise yours legs so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your shins parallel to the ground.
  3. Simultaneously, slowly go through a cycle pedal motion kicking forward with the right leg while pulling in the knee of the left leg. 
  4. Bring your right elbow close to your left knee by crunching to the side. Then crunch to the opposite side as you cycle your legs and bring your left elbow closer to your right knee. 
  5. Alternate sides.

3. Leg Lift

  1. Lie with your back flat on the floor (or on a bench) with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Place your hands to your sides with your palms facing down. To keep your hands down for support, you can place them under your glutes.
  3. Keep your legs fully extended and as straight as possible (it’s okay if your knees slightly bend). Hold the contraction at the top for a second. 
  4. Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position.

4. Plank

  1. Position yourself face-down on the ground and place your hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your back as straight as possible, push your body off the ground, through your hands.
  2. Inhale as you lower yourself downward, until your chest nearly touches the ground.
  3. Exhale and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest, arms, and abdominal muscles. 

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