Dropsets

My latest workouts have incorporated drop sets – i.e., starting with a weight that is challenging for 15 reps and then dropping the weight by 15-20% (without any rest) and completing 12-15 additional reps.  Drop the weight again by ~15% and complete a final 12-15 reps.  These sets are extremely challenging and are designed to push you to complete muscle failure for maximum growth/strengthening.  If you are a beginner, start with just one drop set (or perform less reps) and work up to additional reps.

For legs, I stuck with the basics: squats, lunges, and deadlifts, then moved on to deficit deadlifts and squats at a slower tempo, focusing on getting a full range of motion.  I finished with plyo moves and side/walking lunges.

The whole workout was:

(1) 3X 15 barbell squats (plus dropset for third set) + 12 jumping squats
(2) 3X 16 (8/leg) alternating smith machine lunges (plus dropset for third set) + 12 jumping lunges
(3) 3X 15 deadlifts (plus dropset for third set) + 12 box jumps
(4) 3X 15 deficit KB deadlifts + 15 pop squats (straddling the box)
(5) 3X 15 deficit KB wide squats + 12 tuck jumps
(6) 3X 5 weighted jumping squats + 2-rep squat and hold
(7) 3 X 8/leg side lunges + 12/leg walking lunges

(1) Squats: “Warm-up” with 2 sets of 15 reps at a weight that feels challenging – I did 135lbs.  In between these two sets, do a set of 12 jumping squats.  On the third set of squats, do 15 reps, drop the weight to 115lbs and–with no rest–do 15 more reps, then drop the weight to 95lbs and–with no rest–do a final 15 reps.  After dropping the weight, if you reach failure before 15 reps, stop and move on to the next set.  As you get stronger/more comfortable with the dropset, work up to 15 reps.

For squats, keep your weight in your heels, lower until you are at parallel or below, and then lift up through your thighs (and not with your butt) when you come up.  I have found that looking up (instead of straight ahead) has helped me keep my back flat and has allowed more flexibility in my hips.

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For jumping squats, drive through your legs to get as much height as possible and land softly.

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(2) Alternating Smith Machine Lunges: Next, do reverse lunges.  “Warm-up” with 2 sets of 16 reps (8/leg) at a weight that feels challenging – I did 125lbs.  In between these two sets, do a set of 12 jumping lunges.  On the third set of lunges, do 16 reps, drop the weight to 115lbs and–with no rest–do 16 more reps, then drop the weight to 95lbs and–with no rest–do a final 16 reps.  After dropping the weight, if you reach failure before 16 reps, stop and move on to the next set.  As you get stronger/more comfortable with the dropset, work back up to 16 reps.

For lunges, make sure the front knee does not extend past the front toes.  Step back, drop the knee until it hovers about 1 inch from the ground, and return to the start position.  Work to keep your hips square (i.e., make sure one side of your body does not drop lower than the other side of your body). Repeat on the other leg.

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(3) Bent-Leg Deadlifts: “Warm-up” with 2 sets of 15 reps at a weight that feels challenging – again, I did 135lbs.  In between these two sets, do a set of 12 box jumps.  On the third set of deadlifts, do 15 reps, drop the weight to 115lbs and–with no rest–do 15 more reps, then drop the weight to 95lbs and–with no rest–do a final 15 reps.  Again, after dropping the weight, if you reach failure before 15 reps, stop and move on to the next set.  As you get stronger/more comfortable with the dropset, work back up to 15 reps.

For deadlifts, you will feel more work in your hamstrings if you keep the bar as close as possible to your shins as you lift up.  Roll the bar over your toes, bend slightly at the knees, and grip the bar with a flat back.  Lift up, working to keep your back straight and your shoulders engaged back.

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(4/5) Deficit Deadlifts and Squats: I like working on the bottom range of motion on deadlifts and squats by using boxes — by elevating your start position, you can drop the weight lower than you normally would at the bottom of the exercise.

Set up two boxes about 1.5 ft apart.  Stand on the boxes and perform 3X15 kettlebell deadlifts and 3X15 wide squats (not pictured) with a 40kg kettlebell.  To get my heart rate up, I did plyo moves in between sets — 15 straddle pop jumps onto the box in between deadlift sets and 12 tuck jumps in between squat sets.

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(6) Jumping Squat + Squat Holds

To work on range of motion and hip mobility, I then did 3 sets of 5 jumping squats (65-75lb bar), then held at the  bottom of the squat for 10 seconds, did 2 reps of a below-parallel squat, held for 10 more seconds, and performed two more reps.  By using a lighter weight than you normally would, you can work on opening the hips and dropping below parallel.

I’m having trouble uploading videos tonight, but you can see my first attempt at these squats at the beginning of the month on instagram: http://instagram.com/p/qF0CTahNy1/?modal=true

(7) Side Lunges + Walking Lunges

I finished with 3 sets of 8/leg side lunges with a lighter weight — 65lbs.  Make sure your bending knee is over your toes and that your body is upright.  Superset side lunges with 12/leg walking lunges, holding 25 lb plates in each hand.  Take smaller steps out for each lunge to target the hamstrings more than the quads.

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