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.

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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.

Quick Killer Leg Workout

Quick Killer Leg Workout February 2015 1

Yesterday my friend Ramin and I were short on time, but we wanted to get in a good leg workout. This is what we did in just a little over an hour, and trust me, this morning I am feeling it!

Our 1 Hour Leg Workout:

  • 6 sets of Hack squats (2 Warm Up sets, 4 Working sets)
  • 6 sets of Leg Press (2 Warm Up sets, 4 Working sets)
  • 4 Sets of Seated Leg Curls (1 Warm Up set, 3 Working sets)
  • 4 Sets of Glute Master/Butt Blaster Machine (1 Warm Up set, 3 Working sets)
  • 4 Sets of Goblet Squats (15 Reps at a moderate weight)
  • Pistol Squat Variations
  • Stretch


  • Quick Killer Leg Workout February 2015 2 TIPS:
    1. During our Warmup sets, we would do a light weight (about 50% of our max) and do about 15 reps. During a Working set, we would do a much heavier weight (75-90% of our max) and do anywhere from 6-10 reps or until failure.
    2. The important part of this workout is to not take very long breaks. In between each set, maybe take a minute to rest and then get back into it. You really want your muscles to be working hard the entire time.
    3. We ended up doing a Superset of the Seated Leg Curls and the Glute Master Machine. During a Superset, you do one exercise and immediately go to the other exercise, then rest after you finish doing both. This will keep you heart rate up and keep those leg muscles activated.
    4. For the Pistol Squat variations you can do whatever makes you comfortable. I was practicing my Pistol Squats on a Bosu Ball and I was doing walking Pistol Squats; however if you are not comfortable doing them, you can try doing Pistol Squats holding a TRX or even a chair or rail. Do something that makes you comfortable, but also challenges you.
    5. Do not forget to stretch, especially on leg day. You need to lengthen the muscles fibers and release some of the tension and lactic acid, otherwise you will not be able to walk tomorrow.

    Hope you liked this quick, but intense leg workout. Let me know if you end up trying it! Are there any other workouts you would like for me to post? Do you have any other ideas for topics? Let me know by contacting me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

    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.

    Rolling Pistol Squats

    Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 1

    Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 2

    Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 3

    Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 4

    Rolling Pistol Squat: Step 5

    One of the benchmark exercises to do in any CrossFit gym is a Pistol Squat. Pistol Squats involve only using one leg to squat down and push back up to the standing position. This exercise is very difficult and requires a lot of practice and strength to complete. Rolling Pistol Squats are an easier variation of the standard Pistol Squat because they allow you to use momentum to your advantage. Rolling Pistol Squats are also a great cardio and full body workout.

    To Perform a Rolling Pistol Squat:
    1. Start in the standing position with both feet on the floor.
    2. Squat down with your glutes as close to the floor as possible and create a comfortable curve in your back to prepare to roll backward.
    3. Roll backward onto your back and raise your legs in the air.
    4. Using the momentum of throwing your legs forward, place one foot on the ground as close to your glutes as possible with the other leg straight out in front of you and stand up.
    5. Once standing, put the leg that is straight out in front of you back down to return to the standing position.
    6. Repeat the exercise from Step 2 and alternate legs with each rep.

    TIPS:
    1. When I roll backward, I like to keep my legs straight and bring my legs as close to my chest as I can. I give them a light pull with my hands and this allows me to give my hamstrings a stretch.
    2. The closer you can place your foot to you glutes when you role forward, the easier it will be to stand up.
    3. Momentum is key! Quickly bring your legs forward to make the push up from the floor easier.
    4. For anyone with a knee or hip injury, any variation of a pistol squat is not recommended. Never do a workout that causes you pain. Listen to your body!
    5. Rolling Pistol Squats are great to help tone your legs, but they also wok your core and provide a good cardio workout as well. I like to use Rolling Pistol Squats in between other exercises to keep my heart rate up. I usually do about 16 reps per set (8 on each leg), and about 3-5 sets during my workout.

    Have you ever tried Rolling Pistol Squats? Do you plan on adding these to your workout routine? I really appreciate any feedback. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

    Feature Friday: Cassandra Fiorella aka ‘PetiteFi’

    PetiteFi1

    First name: Cassandra aka ‘PetiteFi’

    Last name: Fiorella

    City: Denver

    State: Colorado

    Age: 26

    Height: 5’4”

    Weight: I rarely get on a scale and have not been on one in a decent while, but I would guess around 130 – 135lbs

    Profession: General Trouble Maker/Blogger/Health Enthusiast/Crossfitter/Trainer

    Follow Her:
    Twitter: @OhHeyItsFi
    Instagram: PetiteFi
    Blog/Website URL: One is coming soon!

    When did you start working out?:

    I grew up an active child – playing sports, climbing trees, biking, running, jumping around. “Fitness” in the sense of movement and life- has been a part of my world since day 1. However, my journey into fitness in the traditional sense of the word began around the time I turned 21. It was at that time, after a long stint of years spent partying, that I realized it was time to change my direction and head down a new path in life.

    PetiteFi2

    How many days a week do you work out?:

    This is very much season and schedule dependent, but I prefer to hit the gym 5 to 6 days a week. I’d say I average 4 a week throughout the year although even on the days I don’t make it into the gym, I still remain relatively active either through biking (my main mode of transportation) or hiking, running, walking. This is simply a way of life for me, not some necessary evil or chore I feel I must do.

    How long is your average workout?:

    Crossfit WOD classes are scheduled for an hour at a time however the actual workouts themselves average around 12 to 20 minutes. The rest of the hour is spent warming up, going over technique and mobilizing/stretching. Some days I perform additional “accessory” work generally in the form of technique work focused around particular weaknesses of mine. I also try to spend at least 15 minutes a day mobilizing as flexibly is a major factor that generally gets overlooked. On top of this, I generally average around 10 miles a day on my bike (in the warmer months) simply in transport from one place to another.

    Favorite muscles to exercise:

    All of them! I don’t “spot” train (no “leg days” or “back days” for me). My lower body is much stronger than my upper body – as is the case for most women – so anything lower body centric is preferable to me but I am working hard to balance them out as much as possible.

    Least favorite muscles to exercise:

    None. This is not about muscle groupings for me. This is about functionality. Anything involving heavy overhead (presses/snatches) is difficult for me and causes me the most anguish, but I enjoy practicing those movements because I want to improve.

    PetiteFi3

    Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:

    I absolutely have goals and will continue to do so with every one I achieve. By the end of 2013 I would like to be able to Squat 300lbs, Deadlift 300+, Bench press 150lbs, Snatch my body weight, Clean & Jerk my body weight (or more), perform 10 strict handstand push ups, and knock out double unders like its my job.

    Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:

    To be perfectly honest, all the people I see and meet on a regular basis who are pushing themselves in the gym are inspiration to me. Whether it is the girl taking her first steps into the weight room, the novice nailing a heavy lift they’ve attempted time and time again, or the single mom somehow finding time in her day to take a walk around the park. Knowing that they all are striving to better themselves fuels my drive to better myself and help others do so in the process. All accomplishments, large or small, deserve to be recognized and celebrated. If you are dedicated, working hard and staying positive all the while, you have my utmost respect regardless of your fitness level.

    What supplements do you take or recommend?:

    Supplementation is a gray area in my world. I believe that some supplementation, mostly in the form of vitamins and minerals, can be used to round out a healthy, real food based diet, but totally relying on pills & powders is absolutely unnecessary and potentially dangerous. I personally try to get all my nutritional needs from whole foods but do take a high concentrated fish oil as well as a D3 supplement daily. I occasionally make use of protein powders either when I am in a pinch for time after the gym or in between meals in order to meet my daily protein requirements, but try to not rely on them too much. I’d much rather eat a steak than drink a chocolate flavored beverage.

    PetiteFi4

    Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:

    I eat Real Food! Foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. I eat very little, if anything, processed – even making my own condiments and non-dairy milks. High quality (aka grass-fed, pasture raised) animal products from a variety of sources (including organs and bone marrow) make up a large portion of my diet as well as seafood and eggs. I eat a wide variety of vegetables including an abundance of dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes and squash for my carbohydrates. I also eat A LOT of fat – coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, bacon fat, avocado as well as some nuts and seeds. I consume a minimal amount of fruit as I try to keep my sugar intake, even sugar from natural sources, on the low end and I do not drink any alcohol or sugar based beverages but do drink coffee and kombucha tea regularly. I also incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut regularly for their probiotic benefit as well as drink home made bone broth to support healthy gut flora!

    Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:

    Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. I truly believe in Crossfit because I have seen what it has done for hundreds of people’s lives – including my own! The premise of specializing in not specializing is very appealing to me as it has developed me into a well-rounded athlete capable of a wide variety of tasks and set the stage for my functionality for years to come. That being said, if I had to pick one exercise that I believe is the most affective in overall strength and health development it would be the squat. Loaded and unloaded. You want to be able to stand up off the toilet without assistance for the rest of your life, don’t you?

    PetiteFi5

    How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):

    The only “cardio” I perform in the traditional sense regularly is riding my bicycle, as it is my main mode of transportation. I average around 100 miles a week in the spring and summer time here and probably spend more time on that thing than off. Otherwise, I am training my cardiovascular system every time I train thanks to my workouts being performed at high intensity

    Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:

    Find a style of fitness that you find fun! If you hate to run it is very unlikely that you will stick to running a few times a week. Try different types of classes, workout alone or with friends, experiment with active activities in order to find something that best suits you. There is no ONE “right” way – don’t let anyone allow you to feel that there is. Regardless of how you choose to train, STAY consistent! That is ultimately the key to success in anything in life. Hard work & dedication.

    Do you have any other things you would like to say?(Comments, suggestions, etc)?:

    Remember that your life is yours and yours alone. You can shape it into any direction you choose – make it what you want.

    Do you find ‘PetiteFi’ inspiring? Do you have any other questions for her? Do you think you have what it takes to be featured on my blog? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.