Saturday, September 3, 2011

Leg Day aka Lunge Love!

Leg Day! =)

Leg day is one of my favorites. The flaw with it though is that if your energy isn’t there it can be pretty tough to get through, especially squats. Yesterday I was feeling pretty weak so the result was Smith Machine squats to the floor, but only 4 sets and never more than 35s on the machine (putting the weight at about 90 lbs). By contrast when I go into leg day feeling strong you might catch me at the rack doing a set of parallel squats as high as 165-170 lbs.

When I do legs I like to have at least one, preferably all three of the big compound leg exercises involved: squats, leg presses, and lunges. Many people will point out that the dead lift should be included in the big compound leg move list. I didn’t list it because I largely avoid them as they make my lower back tighter than I’m comfortable with. Then I round it out with more targeted moves such as hamstring curls, leg extensions, hip adductors, hip abductors, cable kickbacks, standing unilateral leg presses, single leg squats, dumbbell step-ups, stiff-legged dead lifts, good mornings, etc.

Lately without a strict gym goal to guide me I make up my workouts as go along. Yesterday worked out to be:

1)Smith Machine Squats

Set 1: 70 lbs x 10 reps
Set 2: 70 lbs x 10 reps
Set 3: 90 lbs x 8 reps
Set 4: 90 lbs x 8 reps

2)Leg Press

Set 1: 135 lbs x 20 reps
Set 2: 135 lbs x 25 reps
Set 3: 225 lbs x 12 reps
Set 4: 225 lbs x 12 reps
Set 5: 225 lbs x 12 reps

3)Walking Barbell Lunges
5 sets x 30 reps x 40 lbs on my back. The key here is finding a long straight place to walk out your 30 reps.

4)Leg Extensions (works your quads)
Set 1: 60 lbs x 12 reps
Set 2: 60 lbs x 12 reps
Set 3: 60 lbs x 10 reps
Set 4: 50 lbs x 12 reps

5)Prone Hamstring Curls

Set 1: 50 lbs x 20 reps
Set 2: 50 lbs x 20 reps
Set 3: 50 lbs x 16 reps
Set 4: 40 lbs x 20 reps

6)Stretching! I’m usually bad about stretching, but if I don’t make time for it on leg day I regret it pretty seriously the next two days. My hamstrings get especially tight so I focus my stretching on them.

If you’re brand new to weights and wanted to try a similar workout I’d recommend squatting to parallel with your bodyweight only, or perhaps one of the preloaded 20 lb barbells across your shoulders to get comfortable with the move. You can also place a bunch under your butt and practice squatting low enough to touch it without letting your knees go over your toes. For the leg press you would want to start out with the sled alone (most weigh about 45 lbs) and then add weight as you became comfortable with the movement. Walking lunges are known to be very hard. It has taken me a long time to work up to the rep counts and weight I currently use. Starting out with bodyweight only is smart. You want to focus on your form, making sure your knee doesn’t go over your toe, you don’t wobble on your ankle, but that you still feel a deep stretch in the movement. I’ve been stuck on the 40 lb barbell for forever. I occasionally grab the 50, but that tends to result in a lower rep count per set and I prefer to up my reps rather than up my weight with lunges. It’s a muscle group I’d rather tone and tighten as opposed to expand muscularity on, thus the lean towards high rep vs. high weight. The prone hamstring curl and leg extensions are machines and thus pretty straightforward to approach.

The leg workout detailed above hits the full legs and glutes with the compound exercises and then focuses in more detail on the quads and hamstrings. I hit legs twice a week and always include a handful of glutes focused exercises (such as cable kickbacks) on at least one day.

Squatting to the floor is an advanced move. Parallel is what you want to begin with if you're new to weights, but here's how I like to squat these days. This movie was made about a month ago and has been waiting for a blog entry!

No comments:

Post a Comment