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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

Ripped legs? You better believe it

You’re not thinking of skipping leg day are you?

A seated leg press.
A seated leg press.
Image: YouTube/JCFitnessExperience

FORGET THE TOTAL body workout for one day in the week and just focus solely on legs for a change.

Why? Because in trying to incorporate everything into a single workout you run the risk of really missing major muscle groups, and no group is more major – and under used – than the glutes, for example.

This workout has only six exercises and won’t take longer than 40 minutes but done correctly, you won’t need to spend a minute longer than you usually would.

So switch off the phone, or leave it out in the car, and mentally prepare yourself for the most extreme legs workout you’ve ever done.

This is achieved through a mixture of free weights and machines.

1. Barbell hip thrusts

Source: eHowFitness/YouTube

Muscles targeted: Glutes

Starting position: Position your shoulder blades on the very edge of a bench, feet planted firmly in front of you on the ground, and a padded barbell held in your lap by your hands. Keep your knees stable.

Action: Now raise your pelvis upwards as high as you can, the barbell balancing just below your belly button, your glutes squeezed tight. Hold for a second. Lower your buttocks to the floor and repeat.

It’s important to rise until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, then slowly lower back to the ground.

Tip: Remember to keep your shoulder blades on the very edge of the bench.

Reps/sets: Do three sets of 20 reps with 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

2. Bulgarian squat

Muscles targeted: Glutes and quads

Starting position: Hold a barbell or set of dumbells so that it/they is/are resting on your upper back (be careful not to rest it on your neck) and then stand about three feet in front of a bench. Then, lace your left foot on the bench behind you so that only your instep is on it.

Action: Slowly lower your body so that your right knee becomes bent 90 degrees and your left knee comes close to touching the floor. Your torso should remain upright while your right lower leg is perpendicular to the floor.

Push yourself back to the original starting position as quickly as you are capable. Repeat until you feel you are done, then switch feet so that your right foot is now resting on the bench while your left leg does the workout.

Reps/sets: A good starting point is to perform 3 sets of 8 reps on each leg with one minute recovery between sets.

3. Barbell squat

Muscles targeted: Glutes and quads as well as hamstrings and quads.

Starting position: Standing at a squat rack get under the bar with the weight you choose. Keep your hands relatively close to one another, get your whole body under the bar, place the feet wider than shoulder width apart, keep your core tight and take the barbell off the rack.

Action: Now flex your glutes, come down into a seated position and explode up, breathing out on the way up.

Tip: It’s important to really bring your buttocks down to the floor, or as close as possible to it.

Reps/sets: 3 sets of 15 repetitions with a 90 second rest.

4. Seated leg press

Source: Instructionalfitness/YouTube

Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings and quads.

Starting position: Adjust the seat pad so that it’s comfortable when you’re sitting down and your legs will be at a 90 degree angle. Adjust the weight to your desired resistance. Place your head on the padded part.

Action: Push through your heels, keeping your knees above your angles, remembering not to fully extend your knees (a 90 degree angle is what you’re looking for).

Reps/sets: 3 sets of 30 with 60 seconds rest in between sets.

5. Leg curl

Muscles targeted: Hamstrings and quads

Starting position: If it’s available, choose a leg-curl machine with an angled (not flat) bench. Lie face down, position the backs of your ankles against the pad with your legs extended and make sure your knees are off the edge of the bench.

Action: Contract your hamstrings to bend your knees and pull your heels toward your glutes. At the top of the rep, contract your lower back muscles to perform a hyperextension (the range of motion will be very small). Lower your torso to the pad, then return to the start.

Reps/sets: 3 sets of 20 with 60-90 seconds rest in between sets.

6. Dead lift

Muscles worked: Hamstrings and lower back

Starting position: On the barbell place a little weight, or a weight that’s comfortable if it’s your first time. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your shins close to the bar. Place your hands on the bar with a grip a little wider than your foot stance. Keep it even on each side so use the lines on the barbell as a guideline. Sit back into it, stick your bum out, chest out, shoulders rolled back and head up. This keeps your spine in a neutral position and prevents injury.

Action: When you’re lifting you drive from the legs, not from the back, keep your back straight and the final movement comes from the lower back.

Coming back down it’s the lower back first and then the legs that do the work.

Tip: Your back should be straight throughout the whole movement. Don’t let your lower back round at any point.

Reps/sets: 3 sets of 10 reps with a 90 seconds rest between sets.

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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