LEGS LEGS LEGS

Want a good way to build and tone your legs without having to lift heavy weights? Yesterday I put together and tried a workout for the first time, and although it was hard, it worked great. The important part of this workout is to really monitor your rest time. If you go light, but take small rests between each set, you will be working your muscles in an effective way. Try this workout and let me know what you think!

LEGS LEGS LEGS

  1. Cardio:
    1. 10 Sets of 10 weighted Box Jumps (1 minute rest between each set)
  2. Strength:
    1. Superset of Squats and Deadlifts.
      1. 10 Sets: 10 Back Squats, 45 Minute Rest, 10 Deadlifts, 1 Minute Rest, Repeat
  3. Tone:
    1. 5 sets of Leg Extensions (10 reps)
    2. 5 Sets on the Thigh Abductor Machine (15 reps)
    3. 3 sets of 20 Jumping Lunges
  4. Stretch

This was the entire workout that I did and now my legs are SORE! It was a great way to change up my normal workout. Below are some tips on how to perform these exercises correctly and find weights that would work well for you.

TIPS:

  1. For the Weighted Box Jumps, I used a 24″ box and held a 16kg Kettle Bell. When doing this exercise, I really made sure to get my squat down as low as possible before jumping to the box. If you are not comfortable with weighted box jumps, start with no weight at all, or if you are just learning box jumps, start with a smaller height.
  2. The insane Squat and Deadlift Superset is the big strength portion of this workout. I used 135lbs for both exercise and I was exhausted. My max weights for both my squat and deadlift are over 300lbs, so DON’T go heavy with this superset. Choose a weight that you feel comfortable doing 20-25 reps with in a normal set (usually 50% of your max weight or less). Start with 10 squats, wait 45 seconds, do 10 deadlifts, wait 1 minute, and then repeat this cycle starting with the 10 squats again for 9 more sets. 10 full sets will take about 30 minutes. Make sure to get low with your squats and also really keep the tension out of your back for both exercises.
  3. For the toning exercises, I really just wanted to exhaust some of my leg muscles. Trying to only keep about a 60 second rest in between each set,  I did leg extensions, abductors, and jumping lunges. By the end of this workout I was drenched in sweat and my legs were numb.

Let me know what you think of this workout. Were you able to do the whole thing? Did you make any changes that worked well for you? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas or new topics.

4 Traits of a Great Workout

Photo By Jason Jaskot

Photo By Jason Jaskot


I have been weightlifting for about 4 years now, but I have been active my entire life. I have been to numerous types of exercise classes, I’ve tried different workout regimes, and I’ve even made up my own. Through trial and error and seeing which plans make me feel the best and also show results, I have put together the 4 attributes that I think every workout should have. I like to call these traits the 4 S’s.

The 4 S’s are Stretch, Stamina, Stability, and Strength.
1. Stretch – It is important to start and end with a good stretch during your workout. Yes, stretching can sometimes feel tedious and annoying, but there are so many benefits to stretching that should not be over looked. Stretching not only improves your flexibility and mobility, but it can greatly reduce your risk of injury, and also even support faster and stronger muscle growth. When stretching you are getting more oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, therefore providing your muscles with more nutrients to repair and grow.
2. Stamina – It’s time to get your heart rate up. Cardio has endless amount of benefits no matter what your fitness level may be. Cardio burns calories for weight loss, strengthens your heart, helps reduce the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, it helps you reduce stress, promotes sleep better, etc….
3. Stability – This is the one that I think many people forget to add into their workouts. Unless you are taking a Yoga or Pilates class, many workouts don’t incorporate stability into the regimen. Practicing your balance and stability will lead to fewer injuries, better posture, and improvement in your coordination and athletic skills.
4. Strength – This one is pretty self explanatory, but still can be forgotten, especially by people who are mostly just focusing on weight loss. It is very common to see people on the treadmill for an hour and then just leave the gym. Although they may be loosing weight, its usually is not in the areas they want to loose it in. I frequently get approached by people asking me how they get rid of their “belly fat” or “arm flab.” What I tell people who want to loose weight is that cardio and diet is obviously important, but strength training is your way of focusing on the exact body parts you want to improve on.

Examples of exercises for each aspect of the 4 S’s
Stretch – Arm Circles, Elbow Circles, Touch Your Toes, Lunges, Straddle, Splits
Stamina – Walking on an Incline, Running, Swimming, Stair Master, HIIT Workout
Stability – Planks, Holds, Handstands, Balance Drills, Yoga, Pilates
Strength – Weightlifting such as Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, Chest Press, Deadlifts, and Squats.

Try adding these aspects to your workout routines and let me know what you think. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

Back And Core Workout – April 2015

This is a workout I did the other day. I was pleased with how well it worked and how efficient it was. It did not take too much time, but I definitely felt a great pump and was sore all over the next day. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia KTGnyc.com

Model: Alec Varcas
Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia
KTGnyc.com

Warmup:
30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.

Working Sets:

  • 1. Superset 1: 4 rounds
    • 3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each. (10 reps at heavy, medium, then light weight)
    • 10 raised shoulder push-ups
    • 45 second hollow hold
    • 1 minute rest
  • 2. 50 reps of Lsit pull-ups
    (10 sets of 5 with a 30 second rest)
    • 3. Superset 2: 3 rounds
      • 15 reps of rear delt flyes
      • 1 minute side plank on each side
    • 4. 5 sets of farmer carries
      • 5. 10 handstands until failure
        • 6. Stretch
          • TIPS:
            1. For my moderate intensity cardio, I decided to walk at 4.0 speed on a 7.5% incline on the treadmill for 30 minutes. This burned a little over 300 calories.
            2. When I say “3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each,” start with a heavier weight and do 10 reps of seated rows. Immediately after, lower the weight and do another 10 reps, and then lower it one more time and do another 10 reps. You will do 30 reps total during this drop set, and eventually end up doing 120 total after you do the 4 rounds of that super set. I ended with doing 120lbs, then 80 lbs, then 40 lbs.
            3. During the “50 reps of Lsit pull-ups,” you can break them up however you want. I did 10 sets of 5 reps with a 30 second rest in between each set. Also, during this exercise, you can use a wide grip, or a close grip.
            4. When I did the “10 handstands until failure,” I did mine off the wall and just tried to hold my position. If you are not comfortable with handstands, try holding the handstand against the wall for as long as you can.

            Hope you enjoy this workout as much as I did. Let me know what you think or if you ended up modifying any of the exercises. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics, contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

            Narrow Squats

            Narrow Squat 1

            This is a move I just started adding to my leg day routine, and it kills my legs! You will feel your quads, glutes, and hamstrings burn and swell. This move may feel weird at first, but once you start understanding the mechanics and form, it is a great exercise to add to your leg routine.

            To do a Narrow Squat:
            1. With a bar set on the squat rack, load the bar with the appropriate amount of weight.
            2. With the bar resting on your traps (lower neck/upper back), lift the bar off the squat rack
            3. Set your feet slightly closer than shoulder width apart, but not completely together.
            4. Keeping your back straight, squat down. (As seen in the second picture)
            5. When you are as low as you can get, push through your heels to return back to the standing position.
            6. Repeat steps 4-5 for the allotted amount of reps.

            Narrow Squat 2

            TIPS:
            1. Be careful of your knees during this exercise. During the entire movement of the squat your knees should stay in line. Make sure they do not start moving in toward each other. If they do, this will easily cause injury. When pushing up, I try to focus on pushing me knees slightly out to avoid them from caving in toward each other.
            2. This is another exercise that is all about control and less about weight. Although the resistance of the weight is important, if you can control the movement of the exercise and perform this squat with slow, but strong movements, you will definitely feel and see a change in your legs.
            3. When squatting, try to get your legs to at least make a 90 degree angle, but lower even more toward the floor if you can. A wider range of motion will cause your legs to work harder which will then lead to more strength gains. If you cannot lower to create a 90 degree angle, you may be lacking flexibility in your hips. Stretching regularly will help alleviate this issue.
            4. Push through your heels to activate your hamstrings and give your movement more support and power.
            5. I recommend starting this exercise with a very small amount of weight to get the movement down first. Once you have gotten used to the motion, slowly add on weight to see what weight is challenging, but still comfortable for you. You will probably not do the same weight you use for your normal squat. Right now, for my narrow squat I do about 5 sets of 10 reps 185lbs, while for my standard squat I can do 10 reps of 185-225lbs, and my max squat is 330lbs.
            6. As you can see from my picture, my feet are turned out. Growing up as a dancer and also being bow Legged, my legs are more comfortable in the position. When I put my feet straight forward and parallel to each other, I feel a lot of pressure on my knees. Try to have your feet straight on, but also know your body and its limits. If you need to turn out your feet as well, do so.

            Have you ever tried a narrow squat? If you add narrow squats to your leg routine, let me know what you think. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics!

            Sumo Deadlift

            Similar to a standard deadlift, the Sumo Deadlift helps build and strengthen your legs and back muscles. Most of the strength should come from your hamstrings, glutes, and adductors, but muscles in your core, back, and forearms are also needed for stabilization and grip strength.
            Sumo Deadlift
            To perform the Sumo Deadlift:
            1. Place a bar on the ground and load it with the appropriate amount of weight.
            2. With the bar below you, set your feet in a wide stance. The bar should be touching your shins.
            3. Bend at the hips and grab the bar. Your hands should not be wider than shoulder width apart. Contrary to a standard deadlift, your hands should be between your feet, not on the outside of your feet.
            4. Lower your hips slightly and keep you chest up. Have a tight grip on the bar and activate your lats. You are now in the correct position for the sumo deadlift.
            5. By pushing through your heels and activating your hamstrings and glutes, pull the bar up off of the floor. The motion should be coming mostly from your hips.
            6. Once the bar is past your knees, drive you hips forward and lean slightly back. At the peak of the lift, you should be squeezing your glutes with your legs straight, and your lats should be activated with shoulder blades together.
            7. To lower the bar back to the ground, hinge at the hips. Keep your back activated and control the motion down as much as you can.
            8. Repeat steps 5-7 for the allotted amount of the reps.

            Sumo Deadlift 2
            TIPS:
            1. The amount of weight all depends on your progress with weighlifting. For beginners, start off with just the bar to work on your form, and then add weights slowly.
            2. Lower your hips slightly and keep you chest up. You do not want to be hunched over.
            3. Any variation of a deadlift can be dangerous is not done correctly which is why form is so important. Really push through your heels and keep as much strain out of your lower back as possible.
            4. At the peak of the lift, hold the position for a second and really feel the nice squeeze in your glutes and hamstrings.

            Have you ever tried Sumo Deadlifts? Let me know what you think! Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.

            Svend Press

            Svend Press 1

            Yes you read the title correctly; this exercise is actually called the Svend Press. The Svend Press is my favorite exercise to target my inner chest. The movement requires you to flex your chest why pressing a plate.

            To do a Svend Press:
            1. Hold a plate between your hands. Your hands should be on the flat side of the plate, therefore you will have to press your hands against the plate to hold it.
            2. Extend your arms and press the plate forward.
            3. Bend your elbows and bring the plate in front of your chest.
            4. Repeat steps 2-3 for the allotted amount of reps.

            Svend Press 2

            TIPS:
            1. Keep your chest activated during the entire exercise. When you press against the plates with your hands, you will feel a nice contraction in your inner chest.
            2. You can press one plate or multiples plates at the same time. In the pictures, I am holding two 5lbs plates.
            3. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and really squeeze your chest when your arms extended.
            3. I like to do this exercise standing up, but it also can be done lying down on a flat bench or on an incline bench.
            4. You will not have to start with a very heavy weight. I currently only use 10-20lbs to do this exercise.
            5. Slower controlled motions will make this exercise more effective. Fast pulsing motions will not activate all of the muscles in your chest and put a strain on your shoulders, defeating the purpose of the exercise.
            6. Try aiming to do 10-15 reps of the exercise per set. If you can easily go over 15 reps, increase the weight.

            Watch a short video of the exercise being done by clicking here!

            Have you ever tried a Svend Press? Let me know what you think! Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for more questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

            WOD: CINDY

            Cindy

            For any of my Crossfit readers, you know exactly who Cindy is. “Cindy” is a WOD (Workout of the Day) done in Crossfit gyms around the world. Cindy is a full body workout that consists of only body weight exercises. What is great about Cindy is that people of all different fitness levels can do this workout because every exercise can be easily modified.

            CINDY – 20 minute AMRAP(as many reps as possible):
            5 pull-ups
            10 push-ups
            15 air squats

            For 20 minutes, you cycle the three workouts and see how many rounds you can get in. My last time trying CINDY I did 19 rounds plus 5 push-ups. This means I did 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats 19 times in a row, and the time ran out after I did 5 more pull-ups and 5 push-ups.
            Cindy 2
            In total I did 100 pull-ups, 195 push-ups, and 285 air squats in 20 minutes! Talk about a hard workout!

            TIPS:
            1. The pull-ups and push-ups can easily be modified depending on your fitness level. For beginners, a resistance band can be used over the bar to assist in the pull-up, or pull-ups can even be switched out for body weight rows using rings or a TRX. For the push-ups, they can be done on and incline instead of parallel to the floor, or they can be done on your knees.
            2. This workout will really test your endurance and your heart rate will shoot up. If you have any heart or breathing conditions, consult a doctor first and don’t perform this workout unsupervised.
            3. A dead hang pull-up will make this workout much harder Cindy 3
            on your arms and back. Try kipping the pull-up to relieve strain. You will be doing a lot of reps; dead hang pull-ups will cause you to fatigue quickly.
            4. When doing air squats, keep your back straight and get your glutes as low to the ground as possible. Remember “Ass to Grass” when doing squats. Also push through your heels, not your toes.
            4. CINDY is a perfect full body workout to perform when you are short on time. It combines cardio with muscle building and will make you sweat like you have never sweat before.

            Have you ever friend CINDY? Do you have other WODs that you really like? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.