Tag Archives: squat exercise

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?

Squat Deeper, Jump Higher

3 Apr

Want to improve your vertical jump?  Don’t cheat your range of motion when doing the squat exercise.

The parallel squat (thighs parallel to ground in “down” position) is more beneficial for subsequent jump performance than the quarter- or half-squat, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The authors suggest that the greater the depth of the squat, the greater the increase in gluteus maximus activation and work produced, which is responsible for the increased jump performance.

The study also cites an increase in postactivation potentiation as it relates to back squat depth.  Postactivation potentiation refers to increased muscular force generation after previous muscular activity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Explosive Performance with this Triad

16 Mar

1243546_10152343645707164_704678511_o-jpg[1]For most athletes, the development of explosive muscular strength is desirable, since most sports involve movements that require powerful actions.

Sprinting, jumping, and changing direction (as well as throwing, kicking, tackling, etc.) are high-intensity actions that require athletes to generate intermittent bursts of explosive strength and power.

Lower-body triple extension (hip, ankle, knee) exercises — for example, the squat — mimic explosive actions like sprinting and jumping.

Incorporate this three-component strategy into your workout to enhance explosive performance:

RESISTANCE TRAINING

Perform exercises like squats and deadlifts, with about 50% of your 1 repetition maximum (1RM); 2-3 sets of 6 repetitions.  (Don’t ignore your posterior chain.  Complement your squats and deadlifts with glute-ham raises and Romanian deadlifts.)

RESISTED SPRINTING

Pull a weighted sled.  Use a load equal to about 10-15% of your body weight (don’t go too heavy; you want to maintain proper running mechanics).  Perform 8 sets of 20-yard sprints.

PLYOMETRICS

Perform box jumps, hurdle hops, vertical jumps, and horizontal jumps.  Choose 6-8 plyometric exercises, and perform 3 sets of 3 reps for each exercise.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

 

Build Strength, Stability with the Band Squat

21 Sep

bweightsquatknesspress-b-male1-250x300[1]Improve your muscle activation for squats by performing a warmup set with a miniband around and below your knees, as pictured.

The band squat, done properly, helps to ensure that your glutes “fire” properly, and also provides stability — “down the chain” — to the knees; and “up the chain,” to the hips and shoulders.

The band squat is also a great way to improve squat technique and correct mechanical problems.

Use the band squat exercise as a warmup when you do heavy squats.  Descend, pause, rise.  Do 15 repetitions.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Increase Strength and Explosiveness with the Isometric Squat

22 Jul

squats-strength-training[1]Want to improve your speed, agility, vertical jump, and overall lower-body explosiveness?

Try adding the isometric squat to your training, according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which found a strong correlation between an isometric squat — performed at (knee flexion angles of) 90° and 120° — and strength and explosiveness.

The isometric squat is performed by pausing in (and holding) the “down” position for some period of time (for example, 1-4 seconds).

As with any squat exercise, you can use body weight, a dumbbell or kettlebell (goblet style), or barbell (front or back squat).

  • Start in upright position, with hips and knees fully extended
  • Slowly lower your body by pushing your hips back and toward the ground
  • Keep chin and chest up, and heels on the ground
  • Pause when knees are bent at 90° to 120°
  • Return to starting position by pushing hips forward, and extending hips and knees
  • Repeat for pre-determined number of repetitions

Please see related articles, Get Stronger with Isometric Exercises and Add Isometric Exercises to Your Training Regimen.

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?

Squat Deeper, Jump Higher

2 Dec

squats-strength-training[1]Want to improve your vertical jump?  Don’t cheat your range of motion when doing the squat exercise.

The parallel squat (thighs parallel to ground in “down” position) is more beneficial for subsequent jump performance than the quarter- or half-squat, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The authors suggest that the greater the depth of the squat, the greater the increase in gluteus maximus activation and work produced, which is responsible for the increased jump performance.

The study also cites an increase in postactivation potentiation as it relates to back squat depth.  Postactivation potentiation refers to increased muscular force generation after previous muscular activity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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