I have been exercising for a majority of my life and throughout my time in gym I have been partial to a few exercises. When I see those exercises on my program I get excited like a young teenage girl about to see Hunger games. So in the Post I want to show My 5 favorite Lower body exercise I recommend given them a try if you haven’t already.
5. Back Squat/Front Squats
I truly believe that this exercise will withstand the test of time. This is the basic exercise to build strength in your lower limbs. I usually only go to 90 degrees( upper thigh parallel to floor) but I have at one period of time squat ATG(Ass to Grass). There is a big myth that squats are bad for your knees but I haven’t had any problem with knees. Having a strong lower body will greatly improve the quality of your life. I was first introduced to back squats in the 8th grade. I had a very good strength coach who taught me great technique and it was easy for me to do. If you don’t squat you should think about incorporating them into your program.
4. Trap Bar Deadlift
The Trap Bar Deadlift is a variation of the traditional dead lift which is a great exercise to develop the Posterior chain of the body( Hamstring, Glutes Back extensors). The hex bar is move of a manly hula hoop that you can add weight to. The trap bar dead lift is supposed to be more back friend rather than traditional dead lifts. Because the back level is shorter than traditional deadlift. Professionals are now starting to consider the Trap Bar Dead lift and hybrid exercise due to the amount of knee flexion compared to traditional deadlifts. Great exercise I completely recommend it.
3. Walking Lunges
I have always hated walking Lunges because I would almost without fail be very sore the next day. It is a very dynamic exercise That requires power, stability, strength. If you want a great lower body exercise walking lunges. Sometimes I still have flash back from the first time I perform walking lunges properly. I couldn’t sit right for a week.
2. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
RFESS also known as the Bulgarian(Romanian whatever country) split squats. I used to perform this exercise as a supplement exercise for my legs. Up until early 2011 I was learned that you can also perform this exercise pretty heavy not to mention there is a huge stability component of this exercise. I found that you can work you legs just as hard if not harder than the back squats without putting too much weight on your back. The limiting factor in the back squat is not your legs. It is your back you’re only able to squat as much weight as your back will allow. But by going to single leg you can load up more weight on your body one leg at a time. When I first started performing RFESS I was working with 135 lbs on my back and honestly it was kicking my butt. Now I can do 205 lbs comfortably and I noticed that my legs feel stronger than they have in years.
1. Pistol Squats
I take pride in my leg strength it was something that I was naturally good at and I worked hard at trying to improve. In college I was able to squat 565lbs. I was a beast but when we got a new strength coach he felt my squat was strong enough in the bilateral since but he wanted see how strong we were unilaterally. So he started incorporating pistol squats and Single leg Dead lifts The first day I tried to do a pistol squat I could not go anywhere near parallel. It was unbelievable. How can a person with a 500 lbs squat barely perform an average pistol squat. It made me angry but at the same time open up my eyes as to how strength is relative to your goals. I see power lifters throwing up huge numbers. I see body weight people able to perform muscles ups and Full ATG Pistol squats it is truly amazing to how the body can adapt to stimulus.
Single leg Straight leg Deadlifts
Stability ball Leg Curls
Traditional Dead lifts.
Now this is a little issue that has been on my mind for about the last week or so. The forward lunge vs the Reverse lunge. Two exercises that look very similar on the surface but target different muscles in the legs. Now if you were to tell someone they will look at you like you’re crazy. IT is the same motion just one stepping forward the other stepping backwards. But lets look at in-depth
The Forward lunge from a standing position you want to step forward which will cause center of gravity to go forward as well when your front foot hits the ground your glutes, Hamstring, and quadriceps will contract eccentrically to slow your momentum hip stabilizers will fire to keep the knee in line. As you descend down you will get more glutes and hamstring activation especially if you are pushing through your arch to heel on your front foot. Towards the bottom end of the movement you will get more glutes and hamstring activation. On the concentric portion of the movement most of the work is through quadriceps. The last bit of the movement is knee extension. Think about when you’re doing dynamic lunges(alternating lunges) you have to kick a little with your front leg to get you back to the standing position. What major muscles are responsible for knee extension? The answer is quadriceps. Many people usually don’t go the full range of motion in the Lunge and that is why they really feel the burn in the quads because they stay in the range were quad activation in greater. Even in the picture I believe the woman can go even further down and have her back knee touch the ground. Front Lunges will target your quads better than Reverse lunges.
Lets take a look at the Reverse Lunge it start the same way as the Front long instead of stepping forward you take a step backwards. First thing you notice is that you body starts to move in reverse. Second thing you notice is that it is a slightly slower movement. Let think about it for a second with the forward lunge you are shifting the weight from the back leg to the front. In the reverse lunge the weight doesn’t shift in the beginning instead the support leg( the leg that did not step back) has to control your body weight and lower you through the motion. As you lower yourself though the motion your glutes and hamstrings are engage immediately to help lower yourself down. You lower until your knee touches the ground then you stand back up. The up motion is completely different from the front lunge The front lunge ended up being a pushing motion. The reverse lunge on the way back up is a pulling motion through the hip. You are pulling yourself forward, it basically the same motion when your running and walk. Hip extension is controlled by the glutes and Hamstrings. Some people will argue that you push-off the back the back leg to get forward. Yes there is some help with a push to help get your momentum forward but I will argue that your hips are more involved in a reverse lunge than the front lunge. Why do you think women who want to tone they hips and buttocks do reverse lunges over front lunges. IF you still don’t believe me grab some dumbbells and do a couple of sets of reverse lunges and tell me what hurts 2 days later. I bet it will be your glutes.
If you’re trying to make a decision between forward and reverse lunges it will depend on what muscles(movements) you’re trying to target. If you’re going for a knee dominate quadriceps movement go with the Forward lunge. If you are looking more Posterior chain movement then I suggest the Reverse lunge it will hit your hamstring and glutes more.
Random thoughts this is what I’ve been thinking about in the last week or so.
My girlfriend has posed a question last week that got me thinking. She asked why there isn’t any uniform or standard that all fitness and health professionals agree upon. For example a doctor will tell a person they need to go for a walk occasionally. While a fitness professional will say that walking will do little to nothing to improve your health. Why is that? Couldn’t all the professionals come together and agree upon a standard that all people follow. I was thinking that would be way too difficult because the definition for fitness or being healthy is subjective. There are many people who believe that being able to run 10+ plus miles as being in shape. Others believe that being able lift double your body weight in different exercises is a sign of being in shape. I personally consider being in shape doing being able to perform in my sport without problem. With so many definitions of Fitness it is hard to develop a standard without conflicts with another group. If I had a choice between cardiovascular exercises and resistance exercises. I would choose resistance exercises. Others would choose cardiovascular exercise. Is there anything wrong with either choose? I don’t think so people will argue. I think if you are in good health if you’re able to perform daily activities without problem.
Another problem is that there are several different certifications that you can find throughout the world each certifications have different recommendations, and standards of practice. The major Personal trainer certifications are ACE, NASM, ACSM, NSCA, NCSF, NFPT, NESTA, and IFPA. 8 different certifications that are recognized in the United States alone what about the international companies. Each of the companies have different standard and practices. Not to mention there are several other major certifications that do not fall into those 8 groups as well. Not to mention people go to universities to study Exercise science, and Kinesiology. It is honestly pretty ridiculous because for all these groups to come together to come up with a standard is most likely not happening.
10 clapping push ups
10 Kettlebell clean and jerk
10 Single arm bent over row
10 Goblet squats
3 Down and Back Sprints on Basketball court
1 min rest then repeat exercises
30 min Treadmill sprints
1 min Work @ 11 mph
1 min Rest @ 3.5 mph
Power Cleans 5 x 5
Front Squats 5 x 5
Bench Press 5 x5
Pull-up (overhand ) 4 x 8
Anti T bar core stability
Jacuzzi 15 mins
and done for the day
Got off from work early and you know what time it is. Time to put in some work at the gym. I had a pretty rough day at work so I had some pent up energy to burn off. So I was going pretty hard in the gym with no remorse for my body. So I decided to do both the Kettle bell workout with the running and the Treadmill condition one after the other. I had a lot of angry to get out.
8 rounds 40 mins
1/4 mile run
Kettle bell clean and Jerk x 5 each arm
Alternating Kettle bell swings x 10
Single arm Bent over row x 8 each arm
Spiderman Push ups x 10
Treadmill 30 mins
Work 1 min @ 11mph
Rest 1 min @ 3.5 mph
Stationary Bike 20 mins
2 mins rest
2 min Tabata protocol
Power Cleans 2 x warm 3 x 3 heavy
Single leg Pistol squats 4 x 6 each leg
Pull ups( over hand grip) 4 x 8
Anti Rotation T bar 4 x 12
and that is all
On Friday I had stated that I was going to change the way I have been working out. Well I did make some changes and I feel that the change is for the better. The conditioning part of my program has changed from running on a treadmill to running on the track with kettle bell workout thrown into the mix. I feel that this style of workout will help simulate what I will be doing with the ToughMudder. I only have a month left to prepare for this event. I decided that I was going to train in rounds. I figure if I was able to do at least 13 rounds with the running and kettle bell workout continuously I would feel that I would be best prepared for the event. This week I have to complete 8 rounds next week 10 rounds third week 12 rounds. By the end of the month I should be able to complete 12 – 14 rounds without any problem. Coming in to workout on Monday I was unsure on how I would feel after New Years ( always have a designated driver ) but I actually had a great workout and now I am sore cause of it.
Aerobic Conditioning: 8 rounds 50 mins
1/2 mile run
10 Spider man push ups
10 alternating Kettle bell swings
10 Single arm Kettle bell bent over rows
10 Kettle bell Goblet Squats
wash rinse and repeat
Treadmill 20 mins
45 seconds @ 10mph
75 seconds @ 3.5 mph
Stretching and Mobility 25 mins
*Tabata Front Squats @ 95lbs
Single Leg Dead lifts 4 x8
** Single leg Hip thrusters 4×10
Pull ups 4×8
Planks 1 mins
30 secons on side.
Friday came and it was time again to try to kill myself if possible I did the same thing that I always do in terms of cardiovascular conditioning but starting Monday I will be doing a complete overhaul of the workout I am doing I only have a month left to prepare for the 11 mile mud run so right now it is crunch time.
Treadmill 45 mins
Work 1 min @ 10.5mph
Rest 1 min @ 3.6 mph
Stretching and Mobility work
Hang Snatches 5 x 5
Single leg squats 4 x 6 each leg
Single leg Stability ball hamstring curls 3×10
Dumbbell bench 5×5
Inverted Rows 3 x 10
Anti T-bar rotation
Hump day I was feeling a little sluggish but I knew that I had to get a good workout in to set a tone for the rest of the week. I told myself to go as hard as I can today. It started with Aerobic work like a boss. Hoped on the treadmill and ran for 45 min interval run. 10.5 mph for work pace and 3.6 for resting pace. Felt pretty good afterwards so I decided to do some low level plyometrics to mix up my work out a little bit. I am slowly changing my workout to include more power work. I think it will help me with the obstacles that I have to do in the toughmudder coming up in February. Afterward I moved to my Stretching and mobility work to allow my body some rest before I hit the weights pretty hard. I wanted to see if I can make myself sore from lifting. It was something I haven’t felt in a while I am starting to switch up the exercises that I do to keep my body on its toes. So we will see how it goes.
Treadmill 45 mins
Work 10.5 mph 1 minute
Rest 3.6 mph 1 minute
Plyometrics 15 mins
Low box drills
Stretching and Mobility 20 mins
Lifting 45 mins
Hang cleans 5×5
Lumber Jack reverse Lunge to Press 3x 8
Alternating 1 leg eccentric Stability ball curls 3 x 10(5 each leg)
Dumbbell Bench press 4 x 6
Feet elevated Inverted Row 3 x 10
Anti rotation T-bar 3 x 10
Hand walk out anti extension 3 x 5
Total time 2 hours 5 mins( +/- 20 mins)
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he id never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
I am feeling great. It has been four days that I have been under the weather. So to finally feel normal it feels great. I decided to share my new found energy and spirit. In the interval run I decided to go with a 3:1 work to rest ratio to see how far along my conditioning 1:30 work time with a 30 second rest period. Now you’re probably thinking that hey that is shorter than the usually 2 minutes work ratio. But you have to remember your rest period has been cut in half in comparison. So instead of resting for a full minute between your work pace you only get 30 seconds. Now it is very important that you keep that in mind because for the last two weeks you have had more rest time. So pay attention to the clock and keep on pace with the 30 seconds rest period.
Treadmill 45 mins
90 sec work time
30 sec rest time
Stretching and Foam roller 15 mins
Walking Lunges 3 x 15 each leg
Low Cable dead lift with row 3 x 8 each leg
Dumbbell Bench press( alternating) 3 x 6 each arm
Pull ups ( over hand grip) 3 x 6
Anti rotation with T-bar 3 x 10
Back extension with rear delt raise 3 x 8