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Workout 59: Legs 

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. Split Squat

  1. You can do this exercise either with a barbell on your back, or holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Position yourself into a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other. Keep your stance comfortably wide.
  3. Begin by descending, flexing your knee and hip to lower your body down. Maintain good posture throughout the movement. Keep the front knee in line with the foot as you perform the exercise.
  4. At the bottom of the movement, drive through the heel to extend the knee and hip to return to the starting position.

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. 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.

5. 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.

6. Glute Hamstring Raise 

  1. Set up with the knees either directly on or slightly behind the pad, with the feet firmly on the platform and the back of the calves pressed lightly against the upper ankle hook.
  2. Begin with the torso perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Next, squeeze the hamstrings, glutes, and abs, and lower under control until the torso is parallel to the floor.
  4. From there, return to the starting position by pushing the toes into the foot plate (which activates the gastrocnemius) and pulling up with the hamstrings. Be sure to keep the  glutes contracted.

7. Jump Squat

  1. In a squat position with feet shoulder-width apart and your weight in your heels, jump off the floor.
  2. Jump, and land directly back in the squat position. 
  3. Repeat the movement until the set is complete.

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.

  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.