New Leg Workout

This is the first workout in my new program.  Since I want to be better about recovery, I focused more closely on warming up and cooling down after the workout.  We started with foam rolling, 10 min easy treadmill walking, and hip mobility drills to warm-up before getting into the lift.

Here’s how the higher rep leg day went down:

(1) Back Squats:  **I have to thank Gregg Cook for this set-up for back squat.  I was oddly very nervous before starting (which rarely happens because my ego is bigger than it should be when it comes to lifting, haha) — 135lbs feels pretty hard for 10 reps, so doing 10 more reps sounded daunting.  This was very hard but doable and definitely makes me think I’ll be lifting more for 10 reps after a few more weeks.**

  • 2 rounds of 10 @ ~70% of your 10 rep max (for me, 95lbs) – since the weight is light for these warm-up rounds, focus on pushing through your heels and big down, pushing your knees out at the bottom of the rep, keeping the knees from caving in on the way back up, and keeping the chest raised so that the spine can stay neutral for the entire move.  Taking a slightly-wider-than-hip-width stance and lowering your glutes below parallel at the bottom of the movement will allow you to target your glutes as much as possible.
  • 1 round of 10 @ your 10 rep max (135 lbs) + 10 reps without setting the bar down.  In other words, knock out 10 reps.  Without re-racking the weight, take a few breaths, and knock out as many additional reps as you can — I got 3 reps after about 3-4 deep breaths.  Continue this rest + reps progression without racking the weight until you hit 20 total reps.
  • 2 rounds of 10 @ 70% of your 10 rep max (for me, 95lbs) – focus on form in these recovery rounds.

*** Minimize the rest between sets at your lower weight.

(2) Front Squats — despite what I’ve said about increasing reps, I always stick with 5 rep sets on front squats because my rhomboids and triceps give out before my legs when I use weights that are actually challenging for front squat.  I kept the range of motion very deep and did 3 sets of 5 reps @ 115lbs.  Only rest 30 sec (or less) between sets to increase the difficulty.

The most important part of the movement is keeping your elbows high and pushed together, with the bar resting in your fingertips/on your collarbone (no grip around the bar).  The front squat really allows for a super deep range of motion, which again is great for targeting your glutes.  Take advantage and use your fullest range of motion.

We forgot to take photos this morning, but here are some old photos:

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(3) Back Squat Variations

  • 3 rounds of 7 jumping squats @ 65lbs with 20-30 sec rest between sets:  In order to have enough room to move, do this on the gym floor with a bar instead of in the squat rack. Clean your barbell up and bring it behind your neck like you would for a back squat.  Lower to the bottom of a squat and explode off the ground, lifting your feet 6+ inches off the floor at the top of the movement.  Land softly and repeat for 6 additional reps.  Rest 20 sec and repeat for 2 additional rounds.
  • The Gregg-Cook-3-min challenge (aka, absolute brutality): Start with the 65-lb bar on your back.  Do 2 squats, then hold at the bottom for 10 sec.  Lift back up to the starting position, and perform 2 more squats.  Hold at the bottom for 10 sec.  Repeat until you hit 3 min.  Because our legs were burnt out a bit at this point, we opted for 2 min of squats, 1 min rest, 1 min of squats.  Still super challenging.

(4) Deadlifts

  • Pick your 10 rep weight – mine was 155lbs.  Do 3 sets of 5 with only 15-20 sec rest between sets.  Pause at the mid-thigh (with your back still straight and looking forward) for 2 sec and then again at the top of the movement for 2 sec.  The slow tempo and isometric holds make the weight way more challenging.
  • Add 20lbs and do 2 additional sets of 5 (regular tempo) with only 15 sec rest between sets.

(5) Hamstring Curls/Butt Blaster

  • 3 supersets of 12 hamstring curls @ 85lbs and 10/leg butt blasters @90lbs – no rest between any moves.

(6) Hip Thrusters

  • 3 sets of 15 with 110lbs – 30-45 sec rest between sets – start with your shoulders and head resting on a bench, with your knees bent out in front of you.  Place the bar on your hips, right below your hip bones.  Drop your butt down until it just grazes the floor, then drive your glutes back up to the starting position.  Think about tucking your tailbone under and pulling your hips up and toward your bellybutton.  Squeeze your glutes at the top before dropping down into the next rep.

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(7) Finisher

  • 5/leg curtsy lunge with 24kg kettlebell (fast tempo) – focus on moving your foot far across the back of you to the opposite side of your body, while keeping the foot only about a foot behind your hips.  Lower the moving knee close to the ground and press through the front foot to lift back up to the start position.
  • 5 plie with toe raise/knee pushout with 24kg kettlebell

Cool Down/Stretching:  Make sure to stretch out your psoas/hip flexors after this workout.  I suggest using the BOSU ball to get deeper into some stretches.  My favorites are bow pose and pigeon pose, which you can get deeper into while resting your hips/stomach on the ball:

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(For bow, kneel on your knees, about 6 inches behind the BOSU ball.  Lean forward until your stomach is on the ball.  Reach back for your feet or ankles and lift up.  Think about pulling the shoulder blades back and lifting up through the stomach and hips.  Hold for 5-15 breaths.  Rest, and repeat 1-2 times).

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(For pigeon, bring one knee on the top of the BOSU, with your calve perpendicular across the top.  Your other leg is straight behind you with toes pointed.  Lower down your upper body onto your bent leg, and hold for 5-15 breaths/side).

One-leg side bow is also a great way of targeting the psoas:

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Prop yourself on your side and reach for the foot of the top leg with your top hand.  For an advanced variation, cradle your top foot in the elbow of your top arm.  Gently pull the top leg back behind you to feel a stretch/release in your psoas.

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