Workout 9: 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.
- 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.
3. Weighted Elevated Sumo Squat
- You can do this just using your bodyweight, or holding a dumbbell in front of you.
- You do need to be off the floor – you can use two steps of some sort, stand on two benches, or stack flat weights on top of each other so that you’re off the ground.
- Get in a wide stance and point your toes out about 45 degrees (think Sumo Wrestler stance).
- Either clasping your hands together, or holding a dumbbell for added resistance, keep your back straight and bend your butt towards the floor. Get as low as possible!
Push back up using the strength of your entire legs.
4. Weighted Step-Up
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 facing the raised platform, with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Place one foot onto the platform.
- Stand-up by extending hip and knee of the raised leg, placing both feet onto the platform.
- Step back down with the second leg, returning to the original stating position by returning both feet to the floor.
Repeat the exercise but alternate the leading leg between repetitions.
5. Glute Hamstring Raise
- 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.
- Begin with the torso perpendicular to the floor.
- Next, squeeze the hamstrings, glutes, and abs, and lower under control until the torso is parallel to the floor.
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.
6. 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.
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.