Posts Tagged ‘squat’

Welcome to the Jacked Legs Trainer. Here you’ll find some of my personal leg workouts that I use to add size to my legs and increase athletic performance. I don’t perform many isolation exercises for legs  because those do very little for athletic performance so I substitute isolations for plyometric movements for strong and explosive legs. If you play sports, these workouts will have you running faster, jumping higher and hitting harder, even if you don’t these workouts will give you a strong and powerful base with great functionality.

Workout #1

Rest for 90 seconds between each set for all exercises except for #1, in which you should rest until your are ready for another round, between 2-3 minutes. 

  • Squats 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Leg Press 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Superset: (A)Leg Extension 15, 12, 10 (B) Hamstring Curl 15,12,10 Perform exercise A first then immediately move on to exercise B, perform, rest for 60-90 seconds. 
  • Superset: (A) Seated Calf Raise  3 sets of 15-20 (B) Standing Calf Raise  3 set of 15-20

Workout #2

Rest 60-90 seconds between sets! If doing supersets or trisets, complete all exercises on after the other, rest, and repeat.

  • Squats 100 reps (Take as many breaks as necessary but don’t stop until you hit 100, vary the stance to hit all parts of the thighs. I use back squat, sumo stance, narrow stance and front squats, and aim for 25 reps of each) 
  • Triset: (A) One-Leg Leg Press  4 sets x 10 reps (B) Plyometric Lunges 4 sets of 25 reps {Explode from one leg to the other} (C) Wall Squat 4 sets of 30-45 second holds.
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Superset: (A) Donkey Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20 reps (B) Seated Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

  Workout #3

Rest between 60 -90 seconds between reps.

  • Bosu Ball Barbell Squats 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 {Set up in the smith machine, load up a barbell and flip a bosu ball onto its uneven side, unrack the barbell and find your balance on the bosu ball. Focus here, keep your core tight for balance, and drop into the squat slowly and push out, use a spotter if necessary!) 
  • Bosu Ball Hack Squats  3 sets of 8-10 reps {Lie a bosu ball with the uneven side on the platform of the hack squat machine. Stand on the even platform of the bosu ball and keeping your core tight, unrack the weight, drop into the movement and control it up}
  • Superset: (A) Bulgarian Split-Squats 3 sets of 10-12 reps (B) Squat Jumps 3 sets of 15-25
  • Superset: (A) Bosu Ball Lunge 3 sets of 8-10 reps (B) Standing DB Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

{Grab a pair of heavier dumbells and find a raised platform, stand on it with your heels off the platform, Drop down all the way and raise yourself using the calf muscles}

Workout #4

  • Squats 4 sets of 30,20,10,5 superset Standing Calf Raises 4 sets of 15, 25, 35, 45 
  • Leg Press  4 sets of 5, 10, 20, 30 superset Leg Press Calf Raise  4 sets of 50, 40, 30, 20

** REST starts at 45 seconds and increases 15 seconds until you hit the set with 5 reps, rest for 90 seconds, then move on to the second round of exercises going from 90 seconds back.own to 45.

Workout #5

Rest 90 seconds for exercises with 10 sets, and 60 seconds for assistance work. Choose a weight you can do 20 reps for a set with and stick with that for all 10 sets. Do not go to failure, you’ll get there as the sets go on.

  • Squats  10 sets of 10 reps {Keep the weight the same for all sets}
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset: (A) Standing Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20 reps (B) Seated Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

 

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Our legs are the largest muscles on our body. They can be separated into two portions: the upper legs and the lower legs.  We’ll be looking at the anatomy of the muscles that make up the upper and lower legs, their functions, and some exercises and tips to help develop some badass legs. Grab them notebooks, sip on a nice protein shake and get to readin!

As mentioned above, there are two parts to your legs. The upper legs,  which are known as the thighs, consist of the quadriceps (anterior), the hamstrings (posterior) and the glutes, whereas the lower legs, which are the calves. To help you get through this, I’ve divided the post into 3 sections: Quads, Hams and Calves, respectively.

Section 1 

Let’s start by taking a look at the anterior (extensor) compartment of the thigh.

Looking at the photo, you may notice that there are many muscles that make up the anterior compartment of the thigh. The one’s that we can train, develop, grow, and define are the quadriceps (the technical term is quadriceps femoris). The term quadriceps means four heads, which means that there are four heads that make up the quadricep femoris.

The four heads are the:

  1. Rectus Femoris
  2. Vastus Lateralis
  3. Vastus Medialis
  4. Vastus Intermedius

The rectus femoris is located at the front of the quad. The vastus intermedius, not shown in the photo, lies underneath the rectus femoris. The remaining two muscle heads run parallel to the rectus femoris. The vastus medialis is the head found in the inner thigh, and the vastus lateralis is located on the outside of the thigh. All four heads work synergistically to extend the leg and flex the thigh, while the rectus femoris simultaneously acts alone to flex the thigh at the hip.

To develop the quads we use variations of squats, lunges, leg presses and leg extensions. Something important to remember when training the quads is that foot stance and toe positioning determine which muscle head gets targeted. For example, for squats and leg presses, performing these movements with your feet shoulder width apart and pointed slightly outward will provide overall thigh development. Closing your stance, meaning bringing your feet closer together, with toes pointed straight ahead will hit the whole thigh, but will target in on the outer thigh (vastus lateralis). Widening your stance, on the other hand, past shoulder width and pointed your toes out past a 45 degree angle will work the whole thigh, with a particular focus on the inner thigh (vastus medialis).

As mentioned above, there are many variations of the squats, lunges and extensions you can perform with varying stances and toe positions to hit each muscle head and develop some great quads. Some of my favourite exercises are:

  • Full Back Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Close Stance Squats
  • Wide Stanced Squats
  • Pistol Squats
  • Sumo Squat
  • Barbell Lunges (Forward/Reverse)
  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Step-ups (Barbell/Dumbell)
  • Machine Hack Squats
  • Leg Extension
  • Wall Squat
  • Unilateral Leg Extension
  • Single-Legged Leg Press
  • Leg Press
  • Wide-Stance Leg Press
  • Close-Stance Leg Press
  • Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift (ABSOLUTE MURDERER OF INNER THIGHS)

How we feeling so far?! Take a quick break, I recommend it, and come back ready to learn about the hamstrings. See you in 5!

Section 2

Okay, we’re back! On to the posterior (flexor) part of the thighs, the hamstrings. 

As with the deltoids, the hamstrings are a combination of three separate muscles and these are the:

  1. Biceps femoris
  2. Semitendinosus
  3. Semimembranosus

Opposite the quadriceps, the 3 muscles that make up the hamstrings are responsible for flexing the leg at the knee joint and extending the thigh at the hip joint. There is no need in getting into it because the exercises for the hamstrings generally work all three muscles and the glutes as well.

In addition to working the quads, squats, lunges and deadlifts also work on the overall development of the hamstrings, there are, however, certain exercises that isolate the hams. These badboys include:

  • Lying Leg Curls
  • Seated Leg Curls
  • Standing One-Leg Hamstring Curls
  • Flutter Kicks
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts (Barbell/Dumbell) (*My absolute favourite for hamstring development)
  • Good Mornings
  • Glute-Ham Raise (*This one is really difficult and requires a spotter because when you fail, you’ll drop on your face, I recommend working up to this with stiff-leg deads, leg curls and flutter kicks)

Section 3 

Congrats on making it to the final section! By now you should have a good understanding about the anatomy of the quads and the hams, their functions, and some movements that if performed will make them grow! In this last section, we will be covering the lower portion of the legs known as the calves. 

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 23.28.42

As you can see in the photo above, the calves are made up of three muscles, these are the:

  1. Plantaris
  2. Gastrocnemius
  3. Soleus

Another thing you may notice in the photo is the the gastrocnemius is the largest muscle in the calf. It’s function is elevating the heel (known technically as plantar flexion). The soleus shares the same function as the gastrocnemius, however it comes into play when the knee is bent. The plantaris at the top of the calf is a very weak muscle that also aids the gastrocnemius in elevating the heel.

How do we train the calves?! Before I get into the exercises that will help us males develop monstrous calves and help the ladies develop heel complimenting calves, I must bring to your attention that the calves are worked everytime your foot leaves the ground. This means that they are used to being worked often. How do we translate this in the gym? We use higher reps, I personally never train calves with less than 15 reps to a set. Just like the quads, the positioning of your toes targets specific areas of the calves. If I’m doing an exercise for 3 sets, I like to vary my stances to hit each part of the gastrocnemius and soleus. My first set will usually be standard toes pointed forward, the next set i’ll turn my toes out so their pointed in a 45 degree angle, and for my finisher set i’ll point them back in to what I call a duck stance and finish off the set.

With that said, lets look at some of my favourite exercises that will provide you with a lovely burn and shape those puppies into deliciousness. These movements include:

  • Seated Dumbell Calf Raise
  • Seated Machine Calf Raises
  • Donkey Calf Raises
  • Standing Machine Calf Raises
  • Leg Press Calf Raises

** Remember that the soleus is only used when the knee’s are bent so for every calf workout, make sure that you have atleast one seated variation of the calf raise, either before or followed by a standing variation.

THATS IT!! We’ve made it, wooohoooo!!! You should have a solid understanding of the upper and lower portions of the legs, how they work and how to develop them through exercise! I hope you’ve learned something, we’ve almost completed the muscle anatomy series. Sit tight while I finish the write up for the anatomy of the arms and the abs, and I’ll have some muscle-spefic workout templates that you can use to really eff shit up and build that body of your dreams! Until next time everyone, stay jacked!

Having laid down some nutritional foundation on you, I’m going to get into the training portion and this post will be about the basics. I’m talking exercises that have been around for as long as weights have.

When you first step into the gym what are the first few things you will notice? Probably a lot of people on treadmills, some guy growling under a bent bar lowering himself to a seated position and rising, another guy at the bench tearing up 3 plates, and another one hoisting massive weight from the ground. Why do you see people doing these exercises? Because they work.

These lifts are referred to as compound movements, meaning that they use more than one muscle and are usually multi-jointed movements. Our basic 3 compound lifts are the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat. Some other effective compound movements are the military press, pullups/chinups, the bent-row and the clean.

If you’re a beginner get familiar with these exercises because they will be the staples of your workout. I recommend that when planning your workouts, 75-80% of your lifts should be compound movements, the remaining 20 odd percent could be isometric movements.

What are Isometric exercises? Well, they are single-joint movements that isolate a certain muscle with the goal of definition. Examples of isometric movements include lateral raises, tricep extensions, bicep curls, etc. These are not so important for beginners, but for those of you that have been working out for some time, 6+ months, you’ll be more inclined to use these types of movements.

Okay, so back to the basics. I’ll be focusing here on the compound movements because they are so incredibly important for all gymgoers, be it beginners or the experienced gym rat. Like I said earlier, you’re workout will be comprised of mainly compounds, therefore it is important to have a solid understanding of these movements because you WILL be doing them.

The Squat – This movement works the lower body and core. It hits your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus (your butt), your calves and your core. This is a beast of a lift and you will definitely feel it. To do it properly, line up under the bar and pick it off the rack just behind your traps, take a few steps back, extend your hips back and drop down slowly and controlled. As you sit into the squat, you want to make sure you’re feet are flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart, and that your knees track over your feet. You can go 90 degrees or lower, I prefer to go ATG (Ass to Grass) and dip just below 90. Make sure your weight is on your heels, keep your head faced forward, and use your legs and hips to drive the squat up back into full extension. Many people tend to fold their backs when they go down which is wrong. You want to keep the bar in a straight line from top to bottom, by driving the hips you can do this properly. By clicking here, you’ll be sent to youtube where Mark Rippetoe explains the concept of hip drive in greater detail.

 

The Bench Press – This lift is a staple for building the muscles in your chest.  It works the pectoralis major muscle in the chest and is a great mass builder. To do it properly, lay flat on a bench and grab the barbell just over shoulder width. As you raise the barbell off of the rack, make sure to keep your wrists straight, control the weight down to the nipple line and explode up. You want to ensure your back stays flat! Many people arch their back once they lift heavy and you can easily slip a disk and mess up your back. Don’t do that, always be sure to use a weight that you can control. The weight isn’t as important as the mind-muscle connection.

 

The Deadlift – This is your lower backs best friend. One of the most classic lifts in a bodybuilders arsenal, this thing is extremely functional because we pick stuff up off the ground everyday. To do the lift properly, stand over a barbell with your feet just under shoulder width. Make sure your shins are touching the barbel and the barbell sits over the middle of your feet. As you lower down to grab the barbell, ensure that your back is straight and grip the barbell about shoulder width. Keep your feet flat, weight on the heels as you explode up. Keep your head up, look straight ahead throughout the whole lift and lock out at the top. This exercise can really mess you up if you round your back. You can easily slip a disk and mess yourself up as well, so ensure a flat back throughout the lift. The deadlift, like all of the classic compound movements can be targeted to focus different muscles with variations to your stance and grip. We’ll get into that as you progress, for now you’ll get better at this.

The Pullup and Chinup – I love this one and you should all know what it is. A pullup is done with your hands are pointed away from your body gripping over the bar, whereas a chinup is done with your hands are pointed towards your body, gripping under the bar. Different hand placement determines what part of the back is being worked, and yes you can cover virtually your entire back with different variations. Perfect for lifters of any experience, every back workout I do includes some variation of the pullup or chinup and so should yours.

The Bent-Over Row – Another great mass builder for the back, the bent row is my go-to for putting on size and strength. The exact muscles used differ on hand placement, which can be either pronated (as you see in the pic) or supinated (underhand grip). The bent-row works the latissimus dorsi muscle, which makes up the middle back. To perform the bent row, grab the barbell about shoulder width and slightly bend your knees. Lower the barbell to about knee level and keeping your back flat,  contract your back muscles and lift the weight up your quad and into your hips. Lower slowly and repeat. This exercise can be used with heavy weight so make sure that you nail the form before attempting to go heavy. Always control the motion and keep a mind-muscle connection.

The Military Press – The king of all shoulder exercises. This beast works all three heads of the deltoids and can be used to build strength and put on size on the delts. To perform this move correctly, sit on a 90 degree bench and grab a barbell just about shoulder width. Keeping the back as flat as possible on the bench and wrists straight, lower the weight down until your arms are about 90 degrees, pause, and control the weight back up into starting position. You don’t want to go too low because you can mess up your shoulders, which I’ve done and its not very fun at all. Don’t let your ego get the best of you and use weight you can manage, it can be easy to mess up your rotator cuff if you’re reckless.

The Clean – This is one of my favourite olympic lifts. It works muscles in your lower and upper body, as well as your core. It is a great exercise to add strength and improve athleticism. I know personally I’ve used this for hockey and its used religiously by football teams, for good reason, it works. This exercise is a bit more complicated to learn, so take your time with it and master the basics. Essentially you start as you would prepare for a deadlift, feet flat, back straight, head pointing up and forward.  As you explode up, lifting the barbell and shrug the weight up and using the momentum and force created, you drop and receive the barbell in a front squat. I know it seems complicated and it might seem so at first, so click here to get a video demonstration.

So there we are, we’ve reached the end of the basic lifts. These lifts explained above work the entire body and will be used in every workout you do. Be sure to learn them properly and remember to check your ego at the gym door and work with weight you can manage. If you have any questions, you know where to find me! Until next time, stay jacked!