So over the next week or so I’m going to write a series of posts focusing on the butt.
It is one of the biggest, most powerful muscles and also one of the most underactive.
Over the next few posts, I will discuss how to activate this amazing muscle and make it perky and perfect!
Of course while it would be logical to start with warm up/activation movements, I’m going to instead start with my favorite posterior move – the deadlift.
So the deadlift is hands down my favorite exercise. If I could only do one move the rest of my life, it would be the deadlift.
Why do I like the deadlift?
For one, it is super empowering. It feels so great to be able to lift a huge weight successfully off the ground.
Two, it is a full body move that really works the entire posterior of your body (back, butt, hamstrings….).
And three, there are a bazillion different variations that are just so beneficial and really get your butt activated, and honestly all too often people’s glutes really aren’t firing!
It is the perfect move to really build glute strength and power!
And when I got the honor of designing the workout progression for our gym for the next three weeks, I made sure to use it. My progression is very leg intensive and very very focused on improving people’s posture and getting the right muscles activated.
I was proud today to find out that everyone has most definitely been feeling the workouts working. While I never want to push people too far, I do like to hear that their butt cheeks are sore because it is very very hard usually to get people to really activate their glutes and use their butt (many people are quad dominate, which can lead to issues).
So if people’s butts are sore then they must be activated!
How did we get people’s glutes firing and start building some butt strength!?!
Through variations of the deadlift! DUH!!!
And not every variation even needs to be weighted down!
Of course you have the traditional deadlift, which is a great posterior exercise since it hits everything from behind your shoulder blades down to your heels.
However, this move isn’t always the best place to start since many people have limited range of motion in their hips and bad posture. If you can’t get your butt low and keep your shoulder blades down (chest pressed out), then you are at risk for a hurt low back.
So one of my favorite deadlift variations, especially to start with, is the single-leg deadlift. It works on balance, posture AND your glutes and hamstrings.
You don’t need weight to make this move challenging AND it is perfect for the beginner or the advanced lifter!
For the beginner it will really work on balance and posture while starting to get the glutes activated. Make sure they keep their back flat as they hinge over. Make sure their hips don’t rotate open. This will teach them good posture when they move to using weights.
For the advanced lifter, you can weight down this move, which will build more strength in the glutes. This version of the deadlift really forces them to really engage their core AND it forces them to use each leg independently. When we isolate each leg, we make each leg work independently, which can prevent the dominate leg from always taking over and perpetuating imbalances.
So then another great deadlift move to use is the straight leg deadlift.
I usually use this move before I move to full deadlifts since it doesn’t require as much hip mobility BUT starts to teach people to keep the correct upper body posture while adding more weight. (It is also just a great way to add variation to your glute workouts!)
So with this move, knees are only slightly bent. It is a hinge from the hips with the back staying nice and flat as you hinge over toward the ground pushing your butt backwards toward the wall behind you.
Watch when people do this move. The key here is to make sure they are pushing their butt BACKWARDS.
Seriously a great way to work the glutes and hamstrings while starting to add weight! Since balance isn’t an issue it can be an easier way to start adding heavier weight!
Probably my FAVORITE deadlift variation because you can use heavy weight is the sumo deadlift. It is a great way to start really building glute strength and start pulling heavy weight.
So in this variation of the deadlift, your feet are wide apart and your toes are turned slightly outward (by turning your toes out a bit you engage your glutes a bit more). This variation of the deadlift is MORE leg intensive than the traditional deadlift so is ideal for butt building!
Using this move you can really start to develop maximal strength since it is easy to use heavy weights. However, before the person can add heavy weights, they must maintain good posture – aka their chest must stay up and their back can’t round.
The sumo deadlift can be harder on the hips though so don’t over do it! Rotate it with the regular deadlift to make sure you blast the butt from a couple of different angles and to give your hips a bit of a break.
So…if you want to get the butt firing and build some serious glute strength, use a variation of the deadlift.
Looking to work on balance, core strength and posture while targeting the glutes? Use the single leg!
Looking to add more weight while really focusing on the glutes and hamstrings? Use the straight leg!
Looking to build maximum strength in the butt cheeks? Try the sumo deadlift!
Mix it up and target those glutes!
Which variation is your favorite?
Coming soon to the Bootilicious series….glute warm up exercises, glute bridges and multiplanar lunges!
It’s getting warmer outside and stores are advertising all the summer fashions.
You can tell people are starting to get that “get in shape for summer” itch.
Of course, do people start eating well and working out for bikini season now?
They wait until it’s no more than a month before they are going on vacation/wearing a swim suit/buying summer clothes to start working toward “their ultimate beach body.”
When really they need to start working toward their bikini body months in advance! I know it sucks, but guess what!?! IT’S TRUE!
While it is possible to drop quite a few pounds in just a month, your results won’t be as good (or as easily maintainable) as they would be if you started NOW.
Actually, I take that back. I would even recommend starting earlier than now if you want to be in tip-top shape the second the pools open Memorial Day weekend.
For one, if you are looking for great results in just a month, you are going to have to do something drastic. Drastic to me usually means UNMAINTAINABLE.
And when something is unmaintainable it means that the second people reach their goal, they will start backsliding and potentially backslide to a point that was worse than before.
They haven’t created a habit or taught themselves to live a healthy lifestyle. All they’ve done is stressed out their minds, bodies and self-control for a month.
But I’m not saying you can’t diet intensely to reach your goal. There is a difference between that drastic one month diet plan and a “cutting phase” or an intense month of dieting.
From January 1st until March 1st, I did a cutting phase. I dieted INTENSELY, but it wasn’t DRASTIC. I still gave myself cheats. AND while it wasn’t something I could maintain forever, it built a base that I could then MAINTAIN.
Also, those two months weren’t that extremely different from what I was doing previously. I didn’t go from eating fast food every day to eating an apple, oatmeal and plain chicken breast.
Yes it was a change. And no at points it wasn’t fun (especially with the low carb flu at the beginning), BUT it wasn’t a SHOCK.
I cut out indulgences and was more regimented than I would be during a maintenance phase, but again IT WASN’T DRASTIC.
It wasn’t a “depriving myself of everything that I love for a month so that I could barely stand it and couldn’t wait to binge for the next three months” diet.
It was more of an “ok I can’t have the foods I like whenever I want and I wouldn’t want to do this forever, but the slight sacrifice is worth the results” diet.
Don’t get me wrong…when you are cutting it isn’t necessarily fun and it is more intense than you would want to diet on a normal basis, but it gets you results quickly in a realistic fashion – it helps you create a base which you can then maintain!
And it isn’t a one month process. I had to spend at least two months (and I had a solid base before) to get truly great results that could be maintained
Anyway, the point of all of this is that you can’t really get the results you want in one month. Even if you reach that goal weight, I guarantee you don’t look near as good at that weight after one month of dieting as you would if you spent two or three months working to reach the same weight. And you will be way more likely to gain all the weight back after that one month crash diet than after the two or three months of cutting!
So next time you want to drop a few pounds or tone up for bikini season, don’t wait till the last minute! Actually this goes for any event that you want to look your best at!
I recommend this same thing to all of the brides I work with. Don’t decide the month before that you want toned arms in your strapless wedding dress! You should have a workout/diet program mapped out for the entire year you spend planning your wedding!
Tomorrow, I’ll post some great recipes that you can eat during a Man Bicep cutting phase (And guess what!?! Two are BLTs!)
And below is a workout you can do to help you get a great beach body!
Auxiliary lift circuit:
30-25-20-15-10-5 (Complete the set number of reps for each exercise before moving to the next rep range. Ex: Do 30 reps of all exercises then 25 of all the exercises.)
RDLs (Straight leg deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts)
Burpees (chest hits the ground)
Split Squat jumps (Lunge, jump up and switch legs..Also it is the rep number per leg..ex: 30 per leg, 25 per leg…)
Ab roller (ouchie!)
P.S. I haven’t forgotten about the foam rolling video. I apologize I haven’t gotten one up yet! It will be up by next weekend!!!!
So this is the second week of my lifting class (sorry Francine that I couldn’t do one at a time that worked for you!).
And I’m loving it. But the best part is…SO ARE THEY!
And I don’t think all of them expected to…
I have one participant, Lois, who is also one of my personal training clients. We started working together in August and I’ve watched her get stronger and fitter and more confident in herself each and every time we meet.
And while Lois never gives up and is always willing to give an exercise a shot, I have to admit that I was blown away by her strength and determination in our lifting classes so far.
We’d stuck to a lot of functional weight training in our personal sessions together and hadn’t yet done barbell bench press, barbell deadlift or barbell back squat.
But last week, Lois attempted all of them for the first time and excelled! I was more impressed/excited/proud than I could even express to her at the time.
And she continues to impress me. At the class today she deadlifted with the best of them. And she survived the killer auxiliary lift circuit we did, making the necessary modifications, but never giving up.
And the best part is that after both workouts, she has walked up to me and said that it was hard, but that she enjoyed it!
I think it surprised her actually how much she enjoyed lifting super heavy weights!
So if you’ve been shy about heavy lifting, give it a shot! I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how much you love it.
Also, I just want to give a big shout out to all of the members of my class. You all are AWESOME!
P.S. Lois if you read this post since I know you occasionally visit Man Bicep….KEEP IT UP! I’m so proud of you!
So I definitely have noticed more women in the weight room recently.
Unfortunately most of these women are doing high reps with very little weight. I’ve also noticed that most of them are only doing single muscle group movements.
The exercises that women seem to love:
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
- Adductor machine
- Abductor machine
While these exercises can be great auxiliary lifts for someone looking to strengthen weak points in their bench, deadlift or squat, these single muscle group movements really are pointless to do otherwise. Plus if you do compound movements, you will work all of those muscles that you are working with those isolated exercises and many more!
Single muscle group movements don’t give you much bang for your buck. You don’t burn very many calories doing them AND you can’t spot reduce problem areas. So while you may be making your bicep stronger, you aren’t specifically removing flab from over the bicep.
Your time would be much better spent doing compound movements because they work the biggest muscles groups in your body, which will help you build strength, burn fat, acquire optimal body function and improve your health.
Lifting weight while using multiple muscle groups elicits a much higher level of positive hormones than training just one muscle group at a time. These hormones include testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1, and growth hormone. These hormones are what will help you build lean muscles, burn fat, and improve your health.
So not only are you building lean muscles, but you are also more efficiently working your entire body to burn more calories than you would if you did an isolated muscle group movement. You also improve your cardiovascular health and joint stability and muscle balance across your joints by performing compound exercises.
So if you really want to work your bicep, don’t do a curl. Instead perform a pull up or a row. If you want to work your tricep, bench press or do a push up or even a full dip. If you want to work your adductors and abductors, do a squat or lunge or sumo deadlift!
AND if you need a workout with lots of compound exercises, check out the Man Bicep Weekly Workout!
99% of the people you see in the gym at some point do crunches, planks…any sort of ab exercise during their workout.
But only about half of those people ever do some of the BEST exercises for their abs and for that matter their entire bodies (and these exercises AREN’T crunches!)
They are four awesome exercises called the pull up, push up, back squat and deadlift. And to be honest, they are really all you need to have great arms, chest, back, abs, butt, quads, hamstrings and even calves!
So why are you wasting time on crunches? Actually, why are wasting time on a lot of those silly single muscle group movements!?! I mean seriously…those exercises only help the top 1% not the average Jane/Joe.
If you think you don’t have enough time to workout, you should stop wasting it by doing crunches and single muscle group movements and start doing these four exercises!!!
Let’s face it…we know these are a great exercise because no one ever wants to do them! When no one wants to do an exercise, it generally means it is hard.
Just look at all the muscles used:
- Lower sternal fibers of the pec major
- Posterior deltoid
- Teres major muscles
- Lower traps
- Pec minor
- Levator scapulae
- Serratus anterior
- Rectus abdominis
- Erector spinae
- Transverse abdominis
All of these muscles are used some more or less depending on which pull up variation you perform. (And if you need to make all of those muscles work harder just hang some weight around your waist or perform repetitions till failure!)
Grip can effect which muscles are used more during the movement. Chin ups and narrow grip pull ups are usually the easiest and engage the most bicep while wider grip pull ups isolate the lats more. For example, with a chin up the biceps brachii are used the most but with a prone or pull up grip the brachialis and brachioradialis (muscles that are part of the bicep) are used more than the biceps brachii.
Even the positioning of your lower half can alter which core muscles are doing more work. Ideally you want a straight position though so you are fully engaging every muscle in your core!
And there are no excuses for not doing pull ups. There is always a pull up assist machine around OR a band you can use to help pull you up. Heck even start with jumping pull ups! There is no excuse to skip these! There is a variation for all fitness levels!
Again, rarely are women doing push ups in the gym and neither are men actually…Men usually prefer the more illustrious bench press…But push ups are AMAZING! AND there are a bazillion variations of push ups so they will never ever be too easy!
If you need proof of how amazing, here is a list of all the muscles worked:
- Deltoids (anterior, posterior and medial)
- Pecs (both major and minor)
- Erector spinae
- Rotator cuff
- Serratus anterior
- Rectus abdominus (ABS!!!)
- Transverse abdominus (Oh and abs again!?!)
- Gluteus maximus
You may be thinking, “What?! Push ups work your legs too!?!” YES THEY DO!!!
Your glutes and quads aren’t primary muscle groups in the movement, but they do assist if you do push ups from your toes. They keep your body in a nice straight line!
And like the pull up there are variations that work the muscle groups listed in different ways. There is the narrow push up, which engages more tricep and shoulder (also known as the chaturanga or even the diamond push up) and there is the wide grip push up, which isolates the chest more. There is also the decline push up where you elevate your feet, which not only makes the push up harder but also works your pec major more. AND if you put your hands on unbalanced or uneven surfaces you can work your core more!
I mean there are just a bazillion push up varieties so you will never get bored. AND beginners can’t claim push ups are too advanced! Push ups from the knees are a great modification as well as incline push ups. You can even start by doing push ups by leaning against a wall! There is no excuse why anyone can’t do an incline push up against the wall!
Ok I love legs so I really love this move. And not only does this move work the biggest muscle group in your body but it also really works your core! (And if you want a great butt….SQUAT!)
A quote from “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training” stating just my point!
Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and sizeof the legs and buttocks, as well as developing core strength. Isometrically, the lower back, the upper back, the abdominals, the trunk muscles, the costal muscles, and the shoulders and arms are all essential to the exercise and thus are trained when squatting with proper form.
So the muscles worked:
- Transverse Abdominus (abs!!!)
- Erector Spinae
- Soleus (calves)
- Gastrocnemius (calves)
So one thing I haven’t mentioned with the two previous exercises (which is also true for them), but all of these strengthen your lower back, which so many people neglect while doing all of their crunches! And trust me, your back is as much a part of your core as your abs are even if it isn’t something you notice while wearing a bikini.
And there are also a bazillion variations of the squat. I personally have picked the back squat here to highlight because it is the most basic and you can add a ton of weight to it to make it challenging (I like heavy weights!).
MY FAVORITE EXERCISE EVER!!!
Maybe I love it because it works like everything!! It works everything from your fingers (grip strength!!) to your toes!
It works (and I copied this list because well…the deadlift works everything).
- Rectus abdominis (under aponeurosis)
- Abdominal external oblique muscle
- Abdominal internal oblique muscle
- Intertransversarii laterales lumborum
- Latissimus dorsi
- Levator scapulae
- Quadratus lumborum
- Rhomboideus major
- Serratus posterior superior
- Serratus posterior inferior
- Splenius cervicis
- Teres Major
- Trapezius muscle
- Rectus femoris
- Vastus lateralis
- Vastus intermedius
- Vastus medialis
- Biceps femoris muscle
- long head
- short head
- Biceps femoris muscle
- Gluteal muscles
- Gluteus maximus
- Gluteus minimus
- Superior gemellus
- Gluteal muscles
- Flexor digitorum profundus
Enough said? haha
This past Sunday I competed in my first powerlifting event and I still can’t believe I actually did it. I was so proud of myself for even just showing up at the event. Also, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to both Brian and Ryan for coming with me. Ryan was great moral support and Brian coached me to success!
The entire week before I was nervous and stressed. I was trying to make it through a long week of work while also making sure that I had everything I needed for the event (unisuit, t-shirt, shoes, socks…all conforming to their standards).
I also had to lose some weight to be able to compete in the 123 weight class (because of traveling and Thanksgiving I had packed on a few pounds haha). I stuck to Primal, eating only meat, veggies and protein powder (even though numerous people told me I should be eating carbs…like bread…). I ate pulled pork, ribs, oxtail…all nice fatty meats that made me feel full and content.
And over the week everything came together and before I knew it Sunday was here (of course Saturday morning I was so nervous that Ryan said I was shaking the couch enough to make him nauseated).
I had all of my equipment, and lots of Primal snacks, including potatoes, protein powder, macadamia nuts, and apples. I was also well within my weight class, weighing in at 118lbs. The intermittent fasting and Primal diet had paid off! And my energy level was high despite the week of weight loss because of all the fatty meats (and a few potatoes on Saturday) that I had consumed.
Even though I was ready, I wasn’t any less nervous. Even most of the girls who were competing for the first time had spent about the last year training while I had only really spent the last two months even considering entering.
That fact was a bit intimidating. I’m usually the over-prepared person…not let’s-do-this-at-the-last-moment-on-a-whim person.
But, hey, I had spent the last two months training so why waste all that hard work? Even if I didn’t do well, it would be a great experience!!!
But I did do well…despite the fact that conventional wisdom would have told you that I had absolutely no chance, between my low carb, intermittent fasting diet, inconsistent workout routine and lack of a weight lifting belt (Ryan thought the fact that I was one of the few without a belt was pretty “bad-ass” haha).
Anyway, the point is I was nervous and not fully prepared especially by conventional standards. I’d never squatted or benched on command and I’d always had a mirror in which to watch myself deadlift and squat. I was super worried I wouldn’t go low enough on my squats and that I would fail on all three attempts and be out of the competition in the first lift. (A bit pessimistic but this thought kept running through my head…so much so that I was literally revising my numbers in my sleep.)
Anyway, because I was so nervous for squats (and we wanted me to feel good for deadlifts, which were the third lift of the day), we set my numbers super low…I attempted 150 then 160 then 170. In practice I’d hit 200lbs numerous times, and had almost even gotten 205lbs, so all three lifts ended up being super easy. On my first squat, I was so worried about going low enough that I almost dropped my butt all the way to the ground.
But the three successful squats, while too easy, did make me relax and feel more confident.
After about a two-hour break while all the men’s flights went, was bench…my least favorite lift probably because it is my weakest.
In practice, I had hit a PR of 120, but it wasn’t with a pause (I got close 125lbs but it was such a freaking ugly lift to get it up that it definitely doesn’t actually count). So we decided that my attempts should be 90lbs, 105lbs and 115lbs. I had no problem pausing on my first two attempts. But on the third, 115 just wouldn’t go up. Looking back on the lift, I wish I had taken more time to set up because I think it would have gone up if I’d planted my feet more and gotten a bit more arch in my back. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.
Anyway, 105, while a slight bit disappointing still wasn’t too shabby.
Then again we had another long break before we finished the day with deadlifts. While I’d felt more relaxed for bench, probably because I didn’t expect too much, I was super nervous for deadlift. Deadlift is my best lift and I definitely wanted to impress!
In training, my PR for deadlift was 280 and the Mass. State record was 275lbs. I thought I had a good chance of tying it at least!
So we set my first two attempts at 245lbs, 260lbs and figured we would see how those went before deciding if I would attempt 275 or 280. The first two lifts were super easy although my form definitely wasn’t perfect…I was nervous and worn out from a very long day.
We decided that my last attempt should be 275 to tie the record. Again looking back, I wish I had taken more time to get psyched up and set for the lift before I attempted it. I think it would have made a big difference. But despite the fact that I’ve hit 275 almost every time recently when I’ve trained, I just couldn’t make it budge on Sunday.
I was super bummed. My last lift of the day and my strongest and I couldn’t hit a number that I’d just easily pulled that Monday before.
Not the way I’d wanted to end the day. But I was still proud that I’d at least managed to pull over double my bodyweight and hey…I’d made it through my first competition!
A little upset by my last lift and super worn out from the stress of the long day (it is amazingly hard to get revved up for an event then cool down only to have to get revved up two hours later to compete again!), we decided to stay for the awards ceremony just in case I won something.
I’m definitely glad we did! I ended up winning both my weight class and the Best Lifter award for the Women’s Raw Division. The Best Lifter award is a relative strength measurement. They take everyone in the raw division from every weight class and figure out who lifted the most weight in relation to their body weight.
So in the end I left proud and happy even though I still wish I’d made those two lifts.
Overall, a very successful meet. And one of the things that makes me most proud is that I did it my way. While everyone else was drinking Gatorade and eating bread and protein bars, I was eating my Primal snacks.
Although I do have to admit…I’d train a bit differently before my next competition. I would definitely create a schedule and a more consistent program than the one I did these past few months! haha
Anyway, Ryan made a video of the meet. Right now it is just on Facebook, but I’ll upload it to YouTube later today!
It was a great experience and if you are into powerlifting, I would recommend you enter at least one competition!
P.S. Sorry for the super long post…I’m just super excited!!!
So yesterday I started a new cycle of creatine AND I hit a new PR on deadlift! So did Candy! YAY!
Of course, along with the new PR came about 2 pounds of water weight. haha
While I do think creatine is the reason for the weight gain, I don’t really think the creatine had any influence on yesterday’s lift since I just started it again. BUT hopefully it will help me gain a bit more strength over the next couple of weeks!
I like creatine…it is worth spending a bit of extra cash on…every once in a while.
BUT what is worth spending money on CONSTANTLY is glucosamine/chondroitin. I started having a bit of knee pain from all the spin I’d been teaching (along with all the super heavy lifting) so I decided it was time to give a joint health supplement a shot.
A glucosamine supplement should improve your joint health since glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint cartilage. SO supplemental glucosamine may help to prevent cartilage degeneration and treat arthritis!
And let me tell you something amazing about the glucosamine/chondroitin supplement I took…I haven’t had ANY…I repeat ANY knee pain since!
So if you have some knee problems, give a glucosamine chondroitin supplement a shot. It isn’t a miracle pill but it DEFINITELY helped me!
Also, here is our wonderful workout from yesterday!
Barbell RDLs paired with Inverted Row
Walking lunges paired with Lat pushdowns
Leg Extension paired with High Row Machine
Leg Curl paired with Upright Rows
There is nothing more motivating or more frustrating than ALMOST hitting a new personal record.
This morning we did our deadlift workout and Candy and I both ALMOST hit new PRs. My grip went. She couldn’t lock out. But we kept trying until we pretty much couldn’t even pick the bar up off the floor.
We kept trying because we were just so close! The weight was moving…It just wouldn’t go all the way up!
We just kept hoping that the next time might be better. And the 2nd try was better than the first…but by the 4th…well…we were out of juice.
But next Monday, I think we will both hit new PRs!! Brian is very positive that we will (Brian actually hit a new high himself today and I’m a bit jealous! ). While it was frustrating we didn’t get new PRs today, the positive side is we haven’t hit a plateau! We are still getting stronger!
Which got me to thinking about this past Creatine and protein powder cycle. Was it making a difference?
Uhm…I have no idea. A week into this cycle, I would have screamed out “YES!!!” My deadlift and bench PRs both went up by about 10lbs after holding steady for the past month. But since then…I haven’t really seen any gains more than what I’ve been used to. A pound here and there, but nothing impressive.
So has the creatine and protein powder worked so far? Possibly.
Neither have turned me into hulk, but then again I didn’t expect them to. Neither is a magic pill that will instantly make you stronger, and I haven’t lost strength or plateaued this month so I guess they have done their jobs.
AND there haven’t really been any negative side effects. I haven’t really suffered much water bloat. At most a pound or two.
So if I haven’t really suffered much bloat or any other side effects AND I’ve made strength gains, I see no reason not to keep up the creatine cycling. After this week, I will take a few weeks off before going on one last cycle before the competition.
So women…I can guarantee that Creatine and protein powder won’t turn you into Hulk.
I’ll keep you posted though as I try another cycle or two!!
We all constantly compare ourselves to others. I know I definitely do it.
And it is good to have people who you compete with. Working out with Candy means I always push myself. It has helped me reach two personal records this week!
On Monday, we deadlifted. And we decided to try 275lbs, which would be a new personal best for each of us. I was going to attempt the weight first. Of course, I wanted to do it since it would be a new PR, but I also wanted to do it because what if Candy picked up the weight after me!?! I couldn’t let her lift more, could I!?!
No I couldn’t! So that extra incentive motivated me to push to lift that 275lbs. It pushed me again to bench 120lbs on Tuesday (and I think it helped Candy hit a new PR of 130 in bench as well).
Competition can be good. And it can push you. But comparing yourself too much to others can hinder your development and make you very, very unhappy!
If you constantly compare yourself to others, you can start to focus less on success and more on not failing…which may sound like the same things, but entails two totally different attitudes. If you are always trying not to fail, you have a negative outlook. You are too worried about “winning” and not focused enough on development. Working toward success on the other hand is positive. It means you enjoy working toward a goal as well as accomplishing it.
Also, everyone is TOTALLY DIFFERENT! You simply can’t compare yourself to anyone else and their successes because they have different strengths and weaknesses than you do!
So let competition motivate you, but don’t let it consume you! Set your own personal records and work your butt off to achieve them!
So yesterday Candy and I did a leg workout. The last two leg workouts we have done have absolutely murdered our leg muscles.
Here are the 10 best (most tortuous) leg exercises (in no particular order because all can be equally dreadful):
1. Heavy Back Squat (Candy’s least favorite)- There is something about putting a heavy barbell on your back and having to squat down and stand back up that is just fear inducing. I’m always afraid I won’t be able to stand back up…which has happened before.
The Back Squat is a full leg workout, primarily targeting your glutes, quads and hamstrings as well as your adductors, abductors and calf muscles. Your erect0r spinae as well as your transverse abdominus are also engaged so you are working your entire core too! A great first exercise to do! Yesterday we did 5 sets of 5, increasing weight with each set.
2. Cocktail Lunges – Cocktail lunges are a front and back lunge combined. You lunge forward and then backwards, trying to not tap your foot down in the middle. A forward and backwards lunge is one rep. The front lunge and back lunge do both work your entire leg and the stabilizer muscles in your hips, torso and spine. However, your quad is the primary mover in both so you really burn out the quad by combining the two lunges into one rep!
For an extra burn, complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg. Candy and I did 10 reps on each side before switching (one rep is one forward and one rear lunge). We added some weights to make it even more of a challenge!
3. Slider Side Lunges – Let the adductor machine gather dust and pick up a slider instead! Place one foot on the slider and one on the ground parallel to your foot on the slider. Slide the slider away keeping that leg straight as you bend the standing leg and squat down. When you stand, drag the slider back in keeping the leg straight. As Brian says, “It feels like my groin is ripping!!!”
4. Step Ups – I don’t know why…but I absolutely hate these. Like cocktail lunges, they always make me out of breath. They are simple. Pick a tall box (a challenging height) and step up. If the box is higher, it will also isolate the hamstrings more (but don’t make the box too high…you want it to be about knee height). And if you start farther away from the box, you will work your glutes more. When you step up, tap the other foot on top and climb back down. Isolate one leg first. Add some weight and increase the challenge!!
5. One leg squats (to bench or with TRX) – So the goal here is a pistol squat…no bench…no TRX…just a one leg squat as low as you can go. Candy and I both need a little assistance especially since this isn’t usually the first exercise we do. This is a great full leg workout. It makes you work extra hard too because you have to maintain your balance. AND by isolating one leg, you can make sure that each leg is doing the full amount of work instead of one leg dominating!
6. Kettlebell Swing – KB swings are supposed to be the absolute BEST exercise for your back side. After doing one round yesterday, I wanted to take the kettlebell and let it fly out a window. I usually like KB Swings, but yesterday they were brutal and today my butt is very very sore. So if you want a nice butt…do kettlebell swings.
7. TRX Hamstring Curls – We love to hate these. They destroy your hamstrings and you just want to be done with them. Ten times better than the leg curl machine for you!
8. Split Squat Jumps – We did these today. You start in a lunge position then jump up and land in a lunge on the other side. If you do them quickly and get low, split squat jumps are cardiovascular and really burn your legs.
Want some lean legs? Then definitely do these plyos.
9. Preacher Squats (aka Pitcher Squats, Bulgarian split squats or Balance Lunges) – Brian always wants to skip these. He has weak quads and preacher squats really really work the quads. Enough said.
10. Jump Squats -Squating and jumping. A plyometric exercise that will help you develop lean and powerful legs. What could be better?!?
Runners Up: Wall sit, Box Jumps, Air Squats, Front Squats, Plie Squat (Sumo Squat) and box shuffle.
Deadlift didn’t make the list because it is so much more than just a leg exercise. It is the Man Bicep Move!!! You can torture your glutes, hamstrings, traps, back and core with the deadlift!!!