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Workout 63: Legs & Abs


Leg Exercises

1. 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.

2. 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.  

3. Quad Extension

  1. Sit on the leg extension machine with your back agains the pad. Your legs should be under the padded lever and your feet pointing forward.
  2. Adjust the pad so that it’s placed above your feet and not at your shins. Your legs should create a 90° angle between your thighs and calves. Grasp the handles on the sides of the machine for support. 
  3. Using your quadriceps, extend your calves all the way out so that they align with your thighs. Grasp the handles to ensure your body remains stationary. 
  4. Hold for a second then slowly begin to lower the weight back down.

4. Hamstring Extension

  1. Sit on the machine with your back against the pad. Adjust the leg pad so it rests against your ankles. 
  2. Secure the lap pad against your thighs, right above your knees. Grasp the handles on the machine to assist you in pointing your toes straight (flexing your feet).
  3. Grasp the handles for support and flex your knees as you curl the weight back as far as possible toward the back of your thighs. Keep your torso stationary at all times and squeeze your hamstrings once you have moved the weight as far back as you can.
  4. After a second, slowly return the weight to the starting position.

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. Kneeling Cable Crunch

Caution: Do not choose a weight that is too heavy. This can result in straining your lower back.

  1. Find a cable station and attach a rope handle to the top pulley. Grasp the rope attachment at each end, and kneel down so your knees are bent at a 90° angle.
  2. Your arms should be stretched over your head. Your palms should be facing each other when holding the rope and your hands should be placed next to your face.
  3. Slightly flex your hips forward. There should be tension on the cable, and you should feel a stretch in your abs.
  4. Keep your hips stationary, contract your abs, and crunch your chest towards your hips until your head is between your knees. Your elbows should be approaching the middle of your thighs. After reaching this point, hold the contraction for a second.
  5. Slowly reverse back to the starting position. Keep as much tension in your abs during this whole movement.

2. Russian Twist 

  1. Lie down on the floor placing your feet either under something that will not move or by having a partner hold them. Your legs should be bent at the knees.
  2. Elevate your upper body so that it creates an imaginary V-shape with your thighs. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you, perpendicular to your torso and with the hands clasped. This is the starting position.
  3. Twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor while breathing out.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second and exhale, moving back to the starting position. Now, move to the opposite side, performing the same techniques you applied to the right side.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

3. 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.

4. Table Top Elbow to Knee Crunch 

  1. Get in a tabletop position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Hold your body up off the floor in this position. Hold a light dumbbell in your right hand. 
  2. From this position, extend your right arm out in front of you and extend your left leg straight out behind you. 
  3. Next, crunch your abs by bringing your right elbow to meet your left knee in the middle of your body. 
  4. Extend them again and repeat. 
  5. Make sure to finish one side before switching hands and doing the other side.