Tag Archives: posterior chain exercises

6 Ways to Tone Your Legs

26 Jul

Lots of our female clients are looking for help to firm and tone their legs… fast.  That requires some effort, but you can shape your lower body with a combination of strength training and cardio.  You won’t necessarily need a gym, as most of the exercises we will share can be done with your own body weight.  Aim for 2-3 days per week, for both strength training and cardio (we like alternating days between the two types of training, in order to leave a day of rest between strength training days).

Here are 6 ways to firm and tone your legs:

  1. Do squats (or some variation).  Squats – traditional or single-leg – are among the most effective exercises for strengthening and toning your lower-body.  Before attempting the barbell back squat, begin with body-weight squats and progress to the dumbbell goblet squat.  Maintain proper technique and challenge yourself by increasing intensity (weight, repetitions) as you progress.  Lunges are another option, and can be performed in combination with, or as an alternative to, squats
  2. Work your posterior chain.  Don’t ignore the muscles behind your legs, your hamstrings and calves.  Exercises like the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, and Swiss ball hamstring curl are great choices for working your hamstrings.  Calf raises can help strengthen and tone the muscles of your lower leg.
  3. Run (or walk) uphill.  Instead of running or walking on flat terrain, take a trip to your local stadium and add stadium stairs to your workout.  If that’s not an option, find an area with a hill or incline.  You’ll be surprised by how much even a small incline can increase the intensity – and the benefit – of your workout.
  4. Add intervals.  If you want to get lean, you need to burn fat.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to burn fat.  HIIT involves alternating intervals of high- and low-intensity activity.  HIIT works equally well, whether the type of exercise is resistance/strength training or cardio.  The key is to go hard during the high-intensity portion of the interval, and keep moving, even during the low-intensity portion of the interval.
  5. Get up off your feet.  Jumping exercises are a great addition to any workout.  Squat jumps and split-squat (alternating lunge) jumps require no equipment and can be done anywhere.  Plyometric exercises — such as box jumps, hurdle hops, and depth jumps — require greater expenditure of energy and burn more calories.  Add these exercises immediately after your squats or lunges.
  6. Eat smart.  If you really want to get lean, your nutrition plan must complement your fitness regimen.  Avoid (or, at least minimize) foods like white grains, pasta, fruit juices, and other processed, high-sugar foods. Ultimately, excess blood sugar gets stored as fat.  Make sure your carbs are whole grain and high-fiber.  Increase your protein consumption by eating more lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish), eggs, and dairy (milk, Greek yogurt), and add a daily protein shake to your diet.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Best Hamstring Exercises

29 May

maxresdefault[1]Squats and deadlifts are great hip/quad exercises for developing and increasing lower-body strength and power.

But if you really want to improve your athletic performance, you’ll also need to focus on the complementary, opposing muscles of the posterior chain — lower back, glutes, and hamstrings — especially the hamstrings.

Whether your goals include the development of power, strength, size, muscle endurance, or injury prevention, hamstring exercises — when paired with hip/quad exercises — can help you reach those goals.

At our facility, we favor hamstring exercises like Glute-Ham Raises and Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) for the athletes we train.  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that RDLs and Glute-Ham Raises produced more significant muscle activation than any other hamstring exercise.

Here’s an article from SpeedBot titled, The 10 Best Hamstring Exercises.  The author discusses the best way to achieve muscle activation, based on the athlete’s training goals, and provides several hamstring exercise variations to include in your training routine to help improve your hamstring strength quickly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Speed and Power with Posterior Chain Exercises

14 Nov

maxresdefault[1]

Glute-Ham Raise, with Spotter

Improvements in athletic performance begin with lower-body strength and power development.  Hip/quad exercises, like squats and leg presses, are great but, if you’re not working the muscles of your posterior chain, you’re only doing half the job.  (please refer to, Don’t Neglect Your Glutes and Hamstrings)

Your posterior chain includes the muscles of the glutes and hamstrings.  Your glutes are responsible for hip extension, while knee flexion is a function of the hamstrings.

Why is it so important for athletes to perform exercises that focus on the glutes and hamstrings? Here’s the deal: The glutes are a primary muscle group involved in virtually every sports movement — including sprinting, jumping, throwing, kicking, and swinging. The hamstrings are important for eccentric muscle movements, like decelerating when you slow down, stop, or change direction; or land after jumping.

Glute-ham exercises should be incorporated into your training regimen, every time you workout.  Working these two important muscle groups can help athletes improve speed and power; enhance balance and stability; and reduce the risk of injury.

Two of our favorite glute-hamstring exercises are the Glute-Ham Raise and Romanian Deadlift (RDL).  We like our athletes to perform them as an agonist-antagonist paired set (superset), combining them with a hip/quad focused exercise like a squat or deadlift.

A typical superset might look something like this:

  • Barbell Back Squat, 6 reps at about 80% 1RM
  • Body-weight squat jump, 6 reps (more advanced athletes can hold dumbbells at their sides when doing this exercise)
  • Body-weight Glute-Ham Raise, 6 reps (focus on lowering movement; lower body to a 4-second count; assist to upright position; this exercise can also be weighted, for more proficient athletes)

All three exercises should be performed consecutively, with little or no rest between them.  Rest for 10-15 seconds between sets (after Glute-Ham raise).  Perform 3-4 sets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

6 Ways to Tone Your Legs

12 Mar

Exercises+for+Firmer+Butt+and+Toned+Legs[1]With summer just around the corner, lots of our female clients are looking for help to firm and tone their legs… fast.  That requires some effort, but you can shape your lower body with a combination of strength training and cardio.  You won’t necessarily need a gym, as most of the exercises we will share can be done with your own body weight.  Aim for 2-3 days per week, for both strength training and cardio (we like alternating days between the two types of training, in order to leave a day of rest between strength training days).

Here are 6 ways to firm and tone your legs:

  1. Do squats (or some variation).  Squats – traditional or single-leg – are among the most effective exercises for strengthening and toning your lower-body.  Before attempting the barbell back squat, begin with body-weight squats and progress to the dumbbell goblet squat.  Maintain proper technique and challenge yourself by increasing intensity (weight, repetitions) as you progress.  Lunges are another option, and can be performed in combination with, or as an alternative to, squats
  2. Work your posterior chain.  Don’t ignore the muscles behind your legs, your hamstrings and calves.  Exercises like the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, and Swiss ball hamstring curl are great choices for working your hamstrings.  Calf raises can help strengthen and tone the muscles of your lower leg.
  3. Run (or walk) uphill.  Instead of running or walking on flat terrain, take a trip to your local stadium and add stadium stairs to your workout.  If that’s not an option, find an area with a hill or incline.  You’ll be surprised by how much even a small incline can increase the intensity – and the benefit – of your workout.
  4. Add intervals.  If you want to get lean, you need to burn fat.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to burn fat.  HIIT involves alternating intervals of high- and low-intensity activity.  HIIT works equally well, whether the type of exercise is resistance/strength training or cardio.  The key is to go hard during the high-intensity portion of the interval, and keep moving, even during the low-intensity portion of the interval.
  5. Get up off your feet.  Jumping exercises are a great addition to any workout.  Squat jumps and split-squat (alternating lunge) jumps require no equipment and can be done anywhere.  Plyometric exercises — such as box jumps, hurdle hops, and depth jumps — require greater expenditure of energy and burn more calories.  Add these exercises immediately after your squats or lunges.
  6. Eat smart.  If you really want to get lean, your nutrition plan must complement your fitness regimen.  Avoid (or, at least minimize) foods like white grains, pasta, fruit juices, and other processed, high-sugar foods. Ultimately, excess blood sugar gets stored as fat.  Make sure your carbs are whole grain and high-fiber.  Increase your protein consumption by eating more lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish), eggs, and dairy (milk, Greek yogurt), and add a daily protein shake to your diet.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Neglect Your Glutes and Hamstrings

16 Nov

Everybody does quadricep-dominant exercises like the squat and leg press.  And, with good reason.  These large, fast-twitch muscles, located on the fronts of your thighs, are responsible for generating lower-body strength and power, important for sport-specific movements like linear speed and vertical jump.  But, if you’re not also doing posterior chain exercises – those that focus on your glutes and hamstrings – you’re only doing half the job.

Your hamstrings are the large muscles that run down the back of each of your thighs.  They are opposing muscles to your quadriceps, and provide balance and stability to the knee joint.  These muscles are prone to injury if you do not work to keep them strong and loose, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Glute-Hamstring Exercises

Exercises like the back extensionglute-ham raise (pictured), and Romanian deadlift (RDL) are great complements to your quad-dominant exercises.  For every set of quad exercises, perform one set of glute-ham exercises.  Aim for 4-6 repetitions, per set, with perfect technique.

Benefits of Glute and Hamstring Strength and Flexibility

  • Prevents lower back pain – your hamstring muscles will better support your back and pelvis while you move if the muscles are strong and flexible.
  • Reduces injuries – strong and flexible hamstring muscles can support your body during exercise and help prevent injury, especially during running.
  • Improves athletic performance – having strong and flexible hamstring muscles can improve your performance in various sports.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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