Workout 34: Legs
1. Leg Press
- 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.
- 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.
- Slowly lower the platform until your thighs and calves create a 90° angle.
- Drive the heels of your feet into the platform and press up using your quadriceps.
- When complete, ensure to lock the safety pins properly and lock the safety bars.
2. Barbell Squat
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- While keeping your torso upright, drive your heels into the ground to push yourself back up.
- Stand upright with the barbell centered over your feet. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your toes slightly pointed outward. Hinge at your hips and use an overhand grip to grasp the bar at shoulder-width so that your shoulder blades can elongate.
- Lower your hips and bend your knees until your shins come into contact with the bar. Look forward while keeping your chest up and your back arched. Drive through your heels to lift the weight upward.
- After the bar passes your knees, pull it upward as you raise your chest and, thus, straightening your back. You should be pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar. Make sure that you lock your hips and knees, move your booty back, and fire your glutes as you stand up with the bar (this movement comes from your hips, not your knees).
- Unlock your hips and knees so that you can lower the bar by hinging your hips back down. Bend your knees after the bar passes them and use your hips to guide the bar to the ground. The bar should land centered over your feet at the starting position.
4. Quad Extension
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hold for a second then slowly begin to lower the weight back down.
5. Hamstring Extension
- Sit on the machine with your back against the pad. Adjust the leg pad so it rests against your ankles.
- 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).
- 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.
- After a second, slowly return the weight to the starting position.
6. 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.
- Stand with your torso upright and hold one dumbbell in each hand at arm's length.
- 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.
- Using mainly the heel of your foot, drive yourself back up to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement for your left leg.
7. Hip Thrust
- Using a barbell or heavy dumbbell, select an amount of weight you’re comfortable with.
- 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.
- Keep your feet on the floor and directly under your knees so that when you extend, you’ll make a 90-degree angle.
- Using your glute muscles, raise the barbell up from the floor.r primarily using your glute muscles.
- 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.
8. 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.
- Start by adjusting the padded lever to fit your height on the standing calf raise machine.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slowly lower your heels and the weight as you bend your ankles until you feel a stretch in your calves.