Maximize Your Leg Gains with Proper Form
by Jennifer Rendfrey, MS Exercise Science & Jared Coughlin NASM CPT, PES, CES
It doesn't matter if you're advanced, intermediate or a beginner when doing a leg workout a curved lower back (A.K.A pelvic tilt) will kill your gains. A forward pelvic tilt typically happens as soon as your hips drop down below parallel with the floor and your lower back rounds in and causes your pelvis to rotate down and forward. To maximize your gains, learn to rotate your pelvis into a neutral position. If you have trouble achieving a neutral position, you can correct an anterior tilt by using corrective exercise, stretches, and massage. Keep this in mind when doing the below workout.
This exercise is a variation on the traditional squat movement. In this particular version, you'll “front load” your body with a dumbbell, kettlebell or weight plate. Let the weight push you straight down into your squat trying to keep your chest high and backside low. Target 8-12 repetitions.
- Start with your feet at hip width and bring the weight to your chest.
- Slowly lower your body straight down, pause at the bottom and return to the standing position.
- Concentrate on keeping your chest high and lowering your butt/hips beneath you.
This exercise will target all of the lower body muscle groups while also working the core stabilizers. It can be done with or without weights but keep in mind that your stabilization will be challenged starting with no or low weights is advised. Target 16-20 total reps or 8-10 per leg.
- Start with weights hanging by your sides.
- Take a large step forward keeping your knee in line with your toes.
- Stride forward taking the back leg and swinging through to the front.
- Concentrate on keeping your chest high.
This exercise will target all of the lower body muscle groups while also working the balance and core stabilizers. This can be done with or without weights but keep in mind that your stabilization will be challenged starting with no or low weights is advised. Target 8-10 reps per leg.
- Find a step, box or bench that is no higher than your hip joint.
- Lift one leg onto the box and step up.
- If possible, try and balance on the top of the box but stay safe and put the other foot down to ensure your safety.
- Step down and repeat.Â This exercise can be done alternating legs or you can do the same leg repeatedly.
This is what’s called a “static” exercise meaning there’s no movement involved and therein lies the challenge. Your quadriceps complex will be the main muscles being targeted.
- Find a solid wall and lean your back against it.
- Walk your feet out from underneath you and slowly slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Make sure your knees don’t extend out past your toes and push yourself against the wall.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds to start and increase from there.