Last blog post of 2013: While I am not one for New Year’s resolutions (if you want to change something, make the change as soon as possible, not on some arbitrary date), this year it just so happened that I had two weeks of vacation leading into the new year. This gave me time to catch up on fitness articles, workout ideas, and nutrition studies and to plan accordingly — so I am trying three new things in combination (6X6 sprints, new diet that combines Whole 30, 21DSD and Carb Nite concepts, and “star complex” lifts.) I’ll post tomorrow on my other new goals and focus, but tonight I’m sharing two leg-day workouts that used a loose variation of the “star complex” method because I’ve loved them so much. 🙂
The idea of the workout is to work strength/muscle building and power/speed in the same set. So, each “set” includes 5 variations of the same move — starting with two variations that focus on best form and heavy weight and moving toward more explosive, plyometric variations. The first variation uses the heaviest weight and the lowest number of reps at the slowest speed, while the last variation uses the lightest weight and the highest number of reps at the fastest speed.
Unfortunately, there are very few photos because I did this workout alone but I plan to do similar workouts for the rest of January and will post more details about each move and any strength gains I achieve as I go along with the program. I’ve linked back to old workouts where pictures are available. 🙂
Variation 1: Quad-focused Leg Workout
Start with the Star Complex for Squats. Complete all 5 variations of the squat in a row, with no rest between exercises. When you finish the 5th move – jumping box squats – rest for 1-2 minutes before beginning the whole complex again. Repeat the complex 5 times.
(1) Back Squats – 3-5 reps @ 165lbs: With the barbell across your upper back, lower into a squat until your legs are parallel (or below parallel if you can maintain proper form). Repeat for 3-5 reps depending on how heavy the weight you’ve selected feels. I went with 5 reps, but will increase to 185lbs for 3 reps next time I do this workout.
(2) Front Squats – 5-6 reps @ 115lbs: I can’t do as much weight in a front squat as in a back squat, so this felt pretty heavy, especially after the back squats. Standing behind the bar, hold the bar with your arms bent at the elbows and hands near your shoulders. You should grip the bar about shoulder width apart. Your elbows should be facing forward and the bar should be resting right above your clavicle. Squat down and repeat for for 5-6 total reps. I did 6 reps.
(3) Goblet Squats – 6-8 reps @ 24kg: Hold a kettlebell in both hands near your middle chest, with your elbows pointed down near your waist. With toes pointed out at about 30-45 degrees (depending on your hip mobility), squat down below parallel, hold for 2 sec, and propel yourself up. Repeat for 6-8 reps (I did 8 reps).
(4) Bottom Squat Pulses – 10-12 reps @ 24kg: Do not set the kettlebell down. Immediately drop down into the lower half of the squat and pulse up and down for 10-12 reps (I did 12).
(5) Jumping Squats with Box (bodyweight): Finish with 20 “jumping squats” – made more difficult by jumping up onto the 24″ box, squatting all the way down and then jumping down into a squat on the floor. Repeat for 20 total reps (10 on the box, 10 on the floor).
Before moving onto the Lunge Star Complex, do 100 bodyweight squats as one set –with no breaks or long pauses — on the BOSU ball. I did 50 on the blue side and 50 on the black side of the BOSU ball.
Lunge Star Complex. Complete all 5 variations of the lunge in a row, with no rest between exercises. When you finish the 5th move – jumping lunges – rest for 1-2 minutes before beginning the whole complex again. Repeat the complex 5 times.
(1) Barbell Reverse Lunges – 3-5 reps/leg @ 135 lbs: With the barbell across the top of your back, step back 2-3 feet and lower your back knee until it almost touches the floor. Repeat for 3-5 reps on the right leg, then switch sides and repeat for the same number of reps on the left leg. I went with 4 reps.
(2) Dumbbell Forward Lunges – 5-6 reps/leg @ 80 lbs: Holding a 40 lb dumbbell in each hand, step forward 2-3 feet and bend the stepping leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Make sure your front knee is in line with your front ankle, rather than in front of the ankle over the foot. Alternate legs and repeat until you have completed 5-6 reps/leg (I did 6 reps).
(3) Kettlebell Curtsy Lunges – 8 reps/leg @ 24kg: Hold a kettlebell in both hands near your middle chest, with your elbows pointed down near your waist. Take a diagonal step back with your right foot behind the left knee, until your right foot is about 1.5-2 feet to the left of your left leg. Lower down until your right knee nearly touches the floor. Repeat on the other leg. Repeat for 8 reps/leg.
(4) Walking Lunges – 12 reps/leg @ 50 lbs: Holding a 25 lb plate in each hand, walk forward and drop into a forward lunge. Switch legs and repeat for 12 reps/leg.
(5) Jumping Lunges – 12 reps/leg @ bodyweight: Drop into a lunge, jump up as high and as fast as possible and drop into a lunge on the opposite leg. Repeat for 12 reps/leg.
Because I am easily susceptible to peer pressure, I then let my sister convince me that 3 sets X20 reps @ 85lbs on the Life Fitness leg extension machine was a good idea (it was not – talk about brutal!) We finished (again, in a less than super smart twist of events) with a set of sprint intervals @ 3.0 incline and 11.5 mph for the “work” portions – which thankfully were only 20 sec long (more on my new 6 day a week sprint program tomorrow!).
Variation 2: Hamstring-Focused Complex
Repeat the Lunge Complex from the first “Quad-focused” variation.
Immediately move to a Deadlift Complex: Complete all 5 variations of the deadlift in a row, with no rest between exercises. When you finish the 5th move rest for 1-2 minutes before beginning the whole complex again.
(1) Stiff-leg Barbell Deadlift – 5 @ 135lbs: Holding the bar at shoulder-width grip and with legs shoulder width apart, lower down with a straight back until the bar just grazes the floor. Your shoulders should be pushed back at the bottom of the movement to support your back. Your knees should be bent slightly, but your legs should be relatively straight. If you’re like me, your weight range will be limited by grip more than the strength of your hamstrings. I’m working on it, but still find that my grip gives out long before my legs. 😦
(2) Dumbbell Deadlift – 6 @ 100lbs: Perform the same move with a 50lb dumbbell in each hand for 6 reps.
(3) Wide-leg Deadlift – 10 @ 45 lbs: Stand with your feet about 3 feet apart. With a 45 lb plate in your hands, lower down into the same movement, focusing on keeping your back straight. Hold at the bottom of the movement for 2-3 seconds. Repeat for 10 reps.
(4) One-leg Deadlifts – 12/leg @ 20kg: Start with your right leg on the ground and your left foot lifted about 2-3 inches off the floor. (You can lift higher, but the move becomes easier for the standing leg the higher you lift the non-working leg). Holding the kettlebell in the same arm as the standing leg, lower down with your back straight until the kettlebell nearly touches the floor. Repeat for 12 reps before switching to the left leg for 12 reps.
(5) Jumping Squat with Extension – 12 @ bodyweight: Jump up as high as possible, extending your arms and legs behind you and contracting your glutes/lower back. Drop back down into a squat and repeat for 12 reps.
Once you’ve completed 5 rounds, perform 100 deadlifts with a 10-15lb weight in each hand — again with no rest or long pauses during the set.
We finished with 3X15 of weighted step-ups and cable leg extensions, followed by 3X20 on the Life Fitness hamstring curl machine.
The Lunge Complex already felt easier the second time around. I’ll try to increase weight after 2 weeks of doing this twice/week. The variations of each exercise will change a bit, but the idea behind the workout will remain the same – progressively increasing reps while dropping weight and increasing speed, all with no rest.