Building More Power in Your Legs

Building More Power in Your Legs

Time to tap into your lower-leg potential. Try these three proven moves and conquer your lower half once and for all.

  • Dumbbell Squat – 4 sets – 6 to 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunge – 4 sets – 8 to 10 reps (each leg)
  • Sissy Squat – 4 sets 15 to 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Squat:
    • The dumbbell squat is a compound exercise that targets all the muscles of the lower body. Because your legs are much stronger than your hands, you might want to use straps on this move. This is not the time to worry about your grip strength because you never want major muscle groups to be at the mercy of your hands.
    • Targets: quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes
    • Set-Up: Stand erect, holding a pair of dumbbells on your shoulders or at your sides, with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and toes turned out slightly.
    • Action: Keeping your head neutral, abs tight and torso erect bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body (as if you were going to sit down in a chair). Pause when your legs reach a 90-degree angle and forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you arrive in the standing positions.
  • Dumbbell Lunge:
    • A lot of people like to call this a quad and glutes exercise, but make no mistake that the hamstrings are highly involved. In fact, you can’t remove the hamstrings from a compound exercise that targets the other two muscle groups.
    • Targets: quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes
    • Set-Up: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and flex your abs and legs. Keep your chest up and eyes focused a few feet in front of you.
    • Action: Step forward with one foot. Bend both knees to lower yourself, making sure that your front knee does not pass your toes. Stop just short of your rear knee touching the floor and reverse direction, driving through both your forward foot and trailing foot until you return to the starting position.
  • Sissy Squat:
    • Often referred to as a standing leg extension, the sissy squat is anything but easy. It’s a quad scorcher, but it involves the hamstrings and glutes – especially at the top, when you squeeze everything for a count. One key is to not grab the post too high or stand too far away =- both mistakes will limit your range of motion. Finally, from one set to the next or even one workout to the next, use the opposite arm to hold the weight – this will help prevent a muscle imbalance between your legs, as well as your core and upper body.
    • Targets: quadriceps primarily; hamstrings and glutes secondarily.
    • Set-Up: Rise up on your ties, grasping a support for balance while holding a weight plate across your chest with the other arm.
    • Action: Bending only at your knees, lean back, keeping your abs tight. Concentrate on focusing your attention on your quads while remaining on your ties. Once you feel a good stretch in your quads or your upper body approach parallel to the floor, press through the balls of your feet to extend your knees back to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes, hams and quads, for one second and repeat.

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