This weekend’s leg lift incorporated only 2 exercises – the squat and the lunge – with many variations of each. I like mixing things up with other machines and exercises, but truth be told, I think you could almost get away with training your legs with only these two moves. Squats and lunges are functional and (when done properly) hit the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
This weeks variations were:
- Barbell Squats
- Pistol Squats
- 3 rounds of 10 reps each Forward Lunges, Reverse Lunges, Split Squats, and BOSU/Box lunges
- 3 rounds of 10 reps each Bulgarian Split Squat, Side Lunges, BOSU Squats
(1) Barbell Squats – I used a normal stance/grip and aimed for a deeper-than-parallel range of motion. For weight, I did 10 reps @ 45lbs to warmup, then 10 reps @95lbs, 10 reps @115 lbs, 8 reps @135 lbs, 6 reps @155 lbs, then repeated 6 reps @ 155 lbs, 8 reps @135lbs, 10 reps @ 115 lbs, 10 reps @95lbs, and 10 reps @45 lbs.
(2) Bodyweight Pistol Squats – 3X10 – Start with one leg lifted off the ground, and extend your arms forward. Squat down as far as possible while keeping one leg lifted off the floor. Keep your back as straight as possible. Raise your body back up to the start position and repeat 10 times before switching to the opposite leg.
*** While I was on my own for this workout, I ran into my friend Nicole in the gym and she was nice enough to take photos of the second part of the workout.****
(3) 3 rounds of 10 reps each Forward Lunges, Reverse Lunges, Split Squats, and BOSU/Box lunges
(3)(a) – Forward Stationary Lunges @20kg/arm: Holding a kettlebell in each hand, step forward with your right leg, lower your left knee almost to the ground, and return to a standing position. Repeat for 10 times before switching legs.
(3)(b) Alternating Reverse Lunges @16kg/arm: Stand with your feet together and step back about 3 feet with your right leg. Lower your right knee to the ground, making sure to keep your front knee in line with your ankle. Push up, and return to the start position. Switch legs, and repeat for 10 total reps (5/leg).
(3)(c) Split Squats on the Box @16kg: Stand about 2 feet to the side of the box. Place the foot of your inner leg on the box, with toes facing away from your body. Lower into a squat, and push through the heel and toe to lift back to the starting position. You should feel most of the effort in the inner thigh of your raised leg and the quad of the other leg.
(3)(d) BOSU/Box Lunges: Start with one foot in the center of the rounded side of the BOSU ball (positioned about 2.5-3 feet in front of a box). Raise your back leg onto the box, and lower into a lunge, keeping your front knee over your ankle. Positioning yourself of the BOSU and box allows you to lower into a deeper lunge, targeting the hip muscles more than in a normal lunge.
(4) 3 rounds of 10 reps each Bulgarian Split Squat, Side Lunges, BOSU Squats
(4)(a) Bulgarian Split Squats @16kg: Place one foot about 3-4 feet (depending on your height) in front of a box. Lift your back leg and rest your foot in the center of a box. Think of this as a one-legged squat instead of as a lunge – most of the weight should be in your front leg, and the movement is basically the same as a squat. With your torso over your hips, lower down until your front leg reaches parallel, and repeat for 10/reps before switching sides.
(4)(b) Alternating Side Lunges @ 16kg: Step to your right, lower down with the kettlebell outside your bent knee, and pop back up to the center with both feet together. (If the weight is light enough, you can add a slight plyometric “hop” in the middle, aiming to keep the pace very brisk between sides). Repeat on the left side, and pop back to center. Repeat on both sides for 10 reps/side.
(4)(C) BOSU Squats: I did 25 bodyweight squats on both sides of the BOSU (only rounded-side BOSU squats are pictured below). The goal of these squats is to work on (a) range of motion and (b) balance. I find the rounded-side squats more challenging for balance, but the flat-side squats more difficult for range of motion.
(4)(d) Plies with Toe Raise @16kg: Stand with your legs in a wide stance, with toes pointed out and holding a kettlebell with both hands in the center of your body. Raise your heels, and lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Repeat for 10 reps. By raising your heels, you will hit the inner thighs harder.