Muscle Groups Engaged: Glutes and Quadriceps
Preparation: Stand upright and straight in front of a flat bench. Always keep a soft bend in your knees
Execution: Step up onto a flat bench with your left leg. Then step up with your right leg so you are now standing on the bench. Step down with your left leg, then your right leg. Repeat, starting with your right leg this time.
**Trainer Tip: Be careful not to fall! Can also be done with dumbbells, medicine ball or barbells for added challenge.
Muscles Engaged: Gluteus Maximus (gluets), Quadriceps (quads), Hamstrings
Preparation: Stand with dumbbells grasped to sides.
Execution: Bend knees forward while allowing hips to bend back behind, keeping back straight and knees pointed same direction as feet. Descend until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Extend knees and hips until legs are straight. Return and repeat.
**Trainer Tip: Squeeze as you stand back up. Keep your back straight.
Muscles Engaged: Hamstrings
Preparation: Start with a light weight and lie on the bench face down. Adjust the pads so that they are in a comfortable position around the ankles so that there is some heel involvement in the effort. You don’t want the pads too high up the calf so that the effort places pressure directly on the soleus calf muscles and achilles tendon.
Execution: Grasp the support handles, remember to breathe out on exertion and in on recovery, then lift the pads upward as you flex the knee joints. Lift the pad as far as it will go toward the buttocks. Lift and lower the leg under control.
**Trainer Tip: Flex feet to further engage the glutes.
Muscles Engaged: Quads
Preparation: Using one of the various leg extensions machines, sit in the seat and hook your feet under the padded bar.
Execution: Extend your legs out to the maximum, making sure you remain sitting flat on the machine (don’t let yourself lift off and cheat up the weight). Extend your legs as far as possible until they are locked out to achieve maximum contraction of the Quadriceps, then lower the weight slowly until your feet are no further back than the knees and the thighs are fully stretched out. To make sure your always extend your legs fully enough, have your training partner hold out a hand on a level where your feet will kick it at the top of the extension.
**Trainer Tip: Hold for 2 seconds are the top of the movement and flex your feet for further engagement of your quads and glutes.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Muscles Engaged: Hamstrings, glutes
Preparation: Stand with feet hip-width apart, right foot raised off the floor and right arm extended in front of you.
Execution: Bending forward from your hips and keeping your back flat, raise your right leg straight behind you until your body forms a T and your right arm hangs down from your shoulder. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete all reps, then repeat on the other side.
**Trainer Tip: Always keep a soft bend in your knees, extend through the stretch but don’t swing your legs. Slow and controlled!
Preparation: Stand with your torso upright holding the dumbbells by your sides. This will be your starting position. (Note:You can also use a barbell on your back, or simply no resistance at all.
Execution: Step forward with your right leg around 2-3 feet or so from the foot being left stationary behind, and lower your upper body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Inhale as you go down. (Note: As in the other exercises, do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint. Make sure that you keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground. Using mainly the ball of your foot, push up and go back to the starting position as you exhale. Repeat the movement for the recommended amount of repetitions and then perform with the left leg.
**Trainer Tips: A more challenging version is the walking lunges where you walk across the room but in a lunging fashion. For walking lunges the leg being left back has to be brought forward after the lunging action has happened in order to continue moving ahead.Lunges can be performed with dumbbells as described above or with a barbell on the back; though the barbell variety is better suited for the advanced athletes who have mastered the exercise and no longer have balance issues. Optionally, you can perform the exercise with no resistance.If you want to emphasize the glutes and the hamstrings, then press with the heels as you perform the movement.
Muscles Engaged: Thighs (Quads), back leg (hamstrings), and Glutes
Preparation: Stand straight up, with your feet shoulder-width apart, but with one stationed about a foot and a half in front of the other. Your back leg should stand directly under your body, and your forward knee should sit at a ninety degree angle. Hold your arms straight out in front of you (or behind head for more advanced).
Execution: Jump up off the ground slightly, and quickly switch the position of your feet in mid-air. Keep your torso straight, now and throughout the exercise. Land in the mirror-image of your original position – your forward leg bent at ninety degrees at the knee and hip, and your back leg directly underneath your body. Bend your knees to absorb the impact – but keep your feet and knees facing straight forward.Jump back off the ground, switching your feet to your original position. Repeat as necessary for your level of fitness.
**Trainer Tip: The deeper you land, the more you will work the muscles. Definitely an advanced movement with plyometric movement.
SIDE LYING HIP ADDUCTION
Muscles Engaged: Glutes, Hips, Legs, and Thighs
Preparation: Lie on your side on a mat/floor with your legs lengthened straight away from your body with your feet stacked in neutral position. Your lower arm can be bent and placed under your head for support. Your upper arm rests upon your upper hip. Your hips and shoulders should be stacked up and aligned vertically to the floor. Your head should be aligned with your spine. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
Execution: Slowly bring your lower leg forward until it lies in front of your upper leg. Both legs remain straight. Both feet are resting on the floor with the feet in neutral position.(Upward phase) Exhale. Gently raise the lower leg off the floor. Keep the knee straight and the foot in a neutral position. Do not allow the hips to roll forward or back. Both knees should be “looking” straight ahead. Continue raising the leg until the hips begin to tilt, the waist collapses into the floor or until your feel tension develop in your low back or oblique muscles. (Downward phase) Gently inhale and return the leg to your starting position in a slow, controlled manner. After completing your set, roll over and repeat with the opposite leg.
Trainer Tips: Due to the limited movement at the hip joint in this direction, the leg need only rise a few inches off the mat/floor.
SIDE LYING HIP ABDUCTION
Muscles Engaged: glutes, hips, legs
Preparation: Lie on your side on a mat/floor with your legs lengthened straight away from your body. Stack your feet in neutral position. Your lower arm can be bent and placed under your head for support. Your upper arm rests upon your upper hip. Your hips and shoulders should be stacked up and aligned vertically to the floor. Your head should be aligned with your spine. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
Execution: (Upward Phase) Exhale. Gently raise the upper leg off the lower leg. Keep the knee straight and the foot in a neutral position. Do not allow the hips to roll forward or back. Both knees should be “looking” straight ahead. Continue raising the leg until the hips begin to tilt, the waist collapses into the floor or until your feel tension develop in your low back or oblique muscles.(Downward Phase)Gently inhale and return the leg to your starting position in a slow, controlled manner. After completing your set, roll over and repeat with the opposite leg.
Trainer Tip: A common mistake is raising the leg too high in this exercise. Given the design of the hip joint, the thigh can only abduct (move out sideways) to 45 degrees. Any movement beyond that position involves movement of the entire hip and no longer targets the muscles intended for this exercise.