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!

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.

Jump Squats

Time to get our butts in shape for summer, LITERALLY. I personally can get bored with traditional cardio, so I try to integrate some High Intensity Interval workouts that not only provide a great cardio exercise, but also help tone your muscles. Jump squats are a great high intensity workout that target your entire lower body, especially your booty.

Jump Squat: Jump

Jump Squat: Squat

To perform a Jump Squat:
1. Start in a standing position with your feet about shoulder width apart.
2. Squat down.
3. From the squat position, jump up in the air and extend your legs. (Your feet should be a few inches above the ground)
4. Once you complete the jump, repeat the workout from step 2.

Tips:
1. When squatting down, get your glutes low to the floor. This will stretch and activate your muscles more effectively.
2. While jumping, straighten your leg and tighten your quads. Work your leg muscles even in the jump of the exercise.
3. When you return back to the ground, land through your toes and bend your knees. This promotes good form and prevents injury and joint discomfort.
4. I either like to do 5 sets of 15 reps for this workout with 45 second breaks in between, or I use this workout to superset with another leg exercise (usually lunges).

Are you getting your body in shape for the summer? Do you use Jump Squats in your routine? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

BOSU Ball Squats

Bosu Ball Squat - Position 1

Bosu Ball Squat – Position 1

Want to tone your legs? Want to challenge yourself with something new… Try BOSU Ball Squats.

This exercise is excellent to activate all of the muscles in your upper legs and your core. It requires a lot of control and balance and is a bit harder than it looks. To perform a BOSU Ball Squat:

    1. Grab a BOSU ball and put the ball on the ground, leaving the flat surface up.
    2. Slowly place one foot at a time on the BOSU ball and stand up straight (You are now in Position 1).
    3. Slowly lower to a squat position by lowering your butt down and activating your quads (You are now in Position 2)
    4. Using your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, raise back up to a standing position (You should now be back in Position 1).
    5. Repeat for the recommended amount of reps (usually 12-20).
Bosu Ball Squat - Position 2

Bosu Ball Squat – Position 2

Tips:

    1. Remember, when doing squats, the general rule is “Ass to Grass!” Lower your butt down as far as you can. This full range of motion will help build and tone your legs muscles.
    2. In order to balance, really activate your core. This exercise is more than just a leg workout!
    3. Once you become comfortable, you can add a barbell to make the exercise harder. Rest the barbell behind your head on your shoulders and perform the exercise with this added weight. WARNING: Do not try to squat the same amount of weight on the BOSU ball that you normally do on the flat ground. Start off small and add weight slowly. You will be surprised how much harder the squat becomes on the BOSU ball.
    4. BE CAREFUL!!! It is easy to fall off the ball. If you need to, perform this exercise next to a wall or something else that you can hold to maintain your balance. Try and do the exercise without brasing yourself, but hold something when necessary… Safety is always the most important thing when exercising!

Do you like this exercise? Do you have any other exercises you would like to share? Any questions or comments? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Workout: Outside Body Weight Workout 4/6/13

When traveling, sometimes it is hard to really find the time and place to get in a good workout. Today we experienced exactly that. DO NOT LET THIS BE AN EXCUSE TO DO NOTHING!!!!! Right now I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the weather could not have been more perfect for a workout. With little time and little equipment, my fellow cast members and I put together a quick circuit training workout that we could do outside just using our body weight. All you need to perform this workout is a bench, wall, or other object that is a foot or two off the ground. Here it is:

Alec Varcas Circuit Training

20 pushups
20 tricep dips
15 burpees
15 box jumps
10 squats
60 second plank hold
Sprint around the pool

We did this circuit 5 times!

The goal was to do this as fast as possible with very little breaks. It doesn’t sound too hard when you read through the workout, but once you get your heart rate going and you really push yourself to finish quickly, you will definitely SWEAT and your muscles will be screaming!

TIPS:
1. If you have never done any of these workouts, please do proper research and make sure your form is correct and safe! I will be posting some techniques for these workouts in the near future, so keep an eye out.
2. Circuit Training workouts are great to do with a group of friends. Seeing others push themselves hard, only makes me want to push my limits too. Plus if you are competitive, you can see who is able to finish the workout first!
3. BRING WATER! Circuit training can be very hard and if you do not hydrate, you are chancing dehydration which is never a good thing!
4. Push yourself. If you find this workout too easy, make it harder! You can add 10 more pushups, 10 more box jumps, 10 more squats, or even add more workouts to the circuit!

After this workout I realized that I did have a little more time so I also did 3 sets of:
20 belt kicks
60 second side plank holds on each side
40 power squats
30 pushups

All of these workouts together make up a great, quick full body workout. I usualy like to focus on one or two muscle groups a day, but it is great to mix it once in a while. Circuit training provides great cardio while also building and toning your muscles.

Do you have any circuits you like to do? Sent them to me! Maybe I will try them out and post them :-). Do you have any other questions? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.