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Back Squat Tutorial: Part 1

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Key Points: Keep weight in the heels throughout the movement.

Position feet approximately shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards.

Keep knees positioned above the toes (not in front of the toes); don’t let them cave inwards as you stand up.

Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.

Use safety bars in case of failure.

Pull shoulders back so the bar can rest on your traps/posterior delts, not your neck. If you get a sore neck or it’s extremely uncomfortable, the bar is likely too high on your back.


Back Squat Tutorial: Part 2

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Key Points: Keep weight in the heels throughout the movement.

Position feet approximately shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards.

Keep knees positioned above the toes (not in front of the toes), don’t let them cave inwards as you stand up.

Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.

Use safety bars in case of failure.

Pull shoulders back so the bar can rest on your traps, not your neck.


Barbell Deadlift Tutorial

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Glutes, Hamstrings, Back, Core

Stand behind a barbell with feet hip-width apart and shins right up next to the bar and toes pointing forward. Push your hips back, drop down and grab the barbell with an overhand or alternate grip.

Before you stand up, set your lower back into the neutral position (as shown from the side), pull your shoulders back, and look forward. As you pull the bar to stand up, don’t jerk the bar but lift powerfully once you feel tension in your arms. Drive your hips forward by contracting the glutes and keep the bar as close to your body as possible until you reach the top. If you have bumper plates/olympic barbells, drop the weight from the top, otherwise reverse the movement with a neutral spine as shown from the side.

IMG_3311
WRONG – rounded spine, not neutral.
IMG_3313
WRONG – knees caving in.

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Barbell Glute Bridge

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Glutes, Hamstrings

Sit on the floor in front of a sturdy bench with a barbell centered over your legs. (I didn’t use a yoga mat or pad in this demonstration, but I usually do and would recommend putting one under the bar.) Bring your feet up slightly and push the bar into the top of your quads as you extend your hips and sit at the top position, keeping a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. While keeping the bar pushed into the very top of your quads, not rolling on top of your hip bones, lower your butt towards the ground, pause, and extend at the hips by contracting the glutes until you reach the top position.


Crossover Lunge

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Glute Med/Min, Lower Body

Perform with your bodyweight, dumbbells or a barbell. Step forward and across your body dropping down into a lunge with both feet pointing forward, pause and push back to starting position. Keep your knee from going in front of your toe just like a regular lunge. Perform the same movement going backwards.


Front Squat Tutorial

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Key Points: Keep weight in the heels throughout the movement.

Position feet approximately shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards.

Keep knees positioned above the toes (not in front of the toes), don’t let them cave inwards as you stand up.

Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.

Use safety bars in case of failure.

Position the bar in a comfortable spot on your anterior deltoids, using either hand position shown.

Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground throughout the entire movement.


Goblet Squat Tutorial

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Key Points: Keep weight in the heels throughout the movement.

Position feet approximately shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards.

Keep knees positioned above the toes (not in front of the toes); don’t let them cave inwards as you stand up.

Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.

Keep the weight out in front, avoiding allowing your elbows to rest on your ribs.


Romanian/Straight Leg Barbell Deadlift (RDL)

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Glutes, Hamstrings, Back, Core

Stand behind a barbell with feet hip-width apart and shins right up next to the bar and toes pointing forward. Push your hips back, drop down and grab the barbell with an overhand or alternate grip.

Before you stand up, set your lower back into the neutral position (as shown from the side), pull your shoulders back, and look forward. As you pull the bar to stand up, don’t jerk the bar but lift powerfully once you feel tension in your arms. Drive your hips forward by contracting the glutes and keep the bar as close to your body as possible until you reach the top.

From the top position, bend your knees slightly, push your hips back slightly, and lower your chest towards the ground by hinging at the hips (while keeping shoulders pulled back) until you feel your hamstrings become tight (also at the point where you’re still able to keep a neutral spine), pause, and stand back up straight.


Single-Leg Romanian/Straight Leg Deadlift (RDL)

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group: Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Stand up straight with a weight in both hands or the opposite hand as the working leg (as shown). Keep the knee slightly bent, set your back, and push the hips back (hinging at the hips, not bending the knees) and lower your chest towards the ground until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings while allowing a neutral spine throughout the entire movement. Pause and return to upright, contracting the hamstring and the glute. Keep your shoulders as level to the ground as you can, avoiding any twisting or leaning.

If you struggle to perform this exercise with one hand as shown, hold the dumbbell with two hands and pull your shoulders back to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.


Single-Leg Vertical Jump

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Lower Body

Jump straight up on one leg and land in a balanced position, then work to be able to do it repeatedly. As you land, push your weight back into your heel so you feel the landing in your glutes, not just your quads. When watching from the front, notice how the knee stays above the toes and doesn’t track medially or laterally, and the hip doesn’t pop out to the side.


Split-Leg Supported Squat (Front View)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Place the top of one foot back on a bench (so the laces of your shoe are on the bench) and hop out away from the bench with your front foot, keeping the distance between feet still about hip-width apart. If you’re holding a weight, hold it in the hand that is opposite of your front leg (the leg doing the work). Lower yourself to as close to parallel as you can while keeping your hips aligned and your knee above, not in front of, your toes.

You should feel a good deal of stretch in the front of the hip on the leg that is back. It will become easier to go lower into the squat the more frequently you perform it and the more flexible your hip flexors are.


Split-Leg Supported Squat (Side View)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Place the top of one foot back on a bench (so the laces of your shoe are on the bench) and hop out away from the bench with your front foot, keeping the distance between feet still about hip-width apart. If you’re holding a weight, hold it in the hand that is opposite of your front leg (the leg doing the work). Lower yourself to as close to parallel as you can while keeping your hips aligned and your knee above, not in front of, your toes.

You should feel a good deal of stretch in the front of the hip on the leg that is back. It will become easier to go lower into the squat the more frequently you perform it and the more flexible your hip flexors are.


Step Up (Front View)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Hold the weight either out in front of your chest like a goblet squat, or in the hand on the opposite side of the working leg (as shown). With one foot up on the bench, allow your weight to slowly shift from the ground leg to the bench leg until you feel the weight in your heel, then slowly stand up, balance, and return slowly to the bottom. Keep your shoulders back, level, and from rounding or leaning forward too much. Keep your knee directly above your toes.

Avoid using the grounded leg to push off, as the bottom of the step up is where the greatest range of motion (and work in that range of motion) is done for the glutes.

This exercise can also be done by alternating legs each rep; I just prefer to do it this way as it’s easier to focus on strict form and I feel more work being done. If you prefer to be out of breath by the end of the set and like alternating legs, then that’s fine too.


Step Up (Side View)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Muscle Group: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Core

Hold the weight either out in front of your chest like a goblet squat, or in the hand on the opposite side of the working leg (as shown). With one foot up on the bench, allow your weight to slowly shift from the ground leg to the bench leg until you feel the weight in your heel, then slowly stand up, balance, and return slowly to the bottom. Keep your shoulders back, level, and from rounding or leaning forward too much. Keep your knee directly above your toes.

Avoid using the grounded leg to push off, as the bottom of the step up is where the greatest range of motion (and work in that ROM) is done for the glutes.

This exercise can also be done by alternating legs each rep. I just prefer to do it this way as it’s easier to focus on strict form and feel more work being done. If you prefer to be out of breath by the end of the set and like alternating legs, then that’s fine too.