Workout 14: Legs & Abs
1. Dumbbell Deadlift
- Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, 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 dumbbell, shoulders positioned so that your shoulder blades can elongate.
- Lower your hips and bend your knees until your shins come into contact with the weights. Look forward while keeping your chest up and your back arched. Drive through your heels to lift the weights upward.
- After the dumbbells pass your knees, pull them 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. Make sure that you lock your hips and knees, move your booty back, and fire your glutes as you stand up with the dumbbells (this movement comes from your hips, not your knees).
- Unlock your hips and knees so that you can lower the dumbbells by hinging your hips back down. Bend your knees after the weights pass them and use your hips to guide the dumbbells to the ground. The weights should land centered over your feet at the starting position.
2. Goblet Squat
- Use a light-to-medium dumbbell for this exercise. Hold one end of the dumbbell on the heels of your hand, cupping your hands around the weight, with your fingertips pointed toward the sky. (Imagine you’re holding a goblet, hence the name of this workout.) Your elbows should be pointed down.
- In a controlled movement, lower yourself into a squat. Your elbows may brush your knees, this is to be expected.
- Return to starting position, ensuring that your upper body doesn’t move the entire time, All of the workout should be in your lower half.
3. 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.
- Jump or step onto your right foot and pull your left knee up towards your right shoulder as you jump.
- Next, jump onto your left foot while bringing your right knee up towards your left shoulder.
- Repeat the movement until the set is complete.
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.
- Stand on the floor or, for more of a challenge, on a block or step, heels unsupported, with a weight in each hand. (You can also do this with a weight in one hand, using the other to support your balance.)
- Slowly lower your heels toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calves.
- Before your heels touch the ground, contract your calf muscles, press in to the balls of your feet, and raise yourself up until you’re supporting your body with your toes, your heels raised up.
Repeat this, ensuring full control in all movements.
- Get in plank position by placing your elbows and toes on the floor. Hold your body up off the floor in this position.
- Bring your right knee on the outside of your body to your right elbow.
- Straighten your right leg back to the floor.
- Complete the same movement with your left leg and keep alternating sides.
2. Leg Lift
- Lie with your back flat on the floor (or on a bench) with your legs extended in front of you.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position.
3. Bicycle Crunch
- 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.
- Raise yours legs so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your shins parallel to the ground.
- Simultaneously, slowly go through a cycle pedal motion kicking forward with the right leg while pulling in the knee of the left leg.
- 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.
- Alternate sides.
- Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned beneath your shoulders. Keep your arms parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance. (You should be in a push up position, only on your forearms rather than your hands).
- Ground your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilize your body. Be careful to not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
- Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot in front of your hands. Your head should be in line with your back. Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
- Keep your back flat and hold the position for as long as possible without compromising form.