Time To Build Your Foundation Part 2 of 3 Part Series – Intermediate Leg Workout
Again, you should always warmup and stretch before training sessions.
Squats. During this intermediate leg workout, you will need to have access to free weights, including barbells or dumbbells and a squat rack if available. Perform your squats with a barbell balanced firmly on your shoulders or a dumbbell in each hand. You can also perform squats with a weight plate, kettlebell or heavy dumbbell held at chest level.
Begin with a weight that you can comfortably (and safely) control. Continue to squat deeply and under control without bouncing at the bottom. Once you reach the bottom of your squat, drive the weight upwards until you reach the upright, start position and repeat. Your goal during this intermediate phase is 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Once you can perform your 3 sets easily, increase the weight. Each time that you can perform your 3 sets at each weight, increase the weight again. This is called “progressive resistance”.
Next we’ll perform your front lunges, but using weights. Perform your lunges as before, but now you will be holding a dumbbell in each hand, a weight plate or kettlebell at chest level or if you only have access to barbells, a barbell firmly balanced across your shoulders. You WILL feel the difference in your training with the added weight. Again, each time that you can perform 3 sets of 12 with each weight, increase the weights.
Up to this point in your training you have only performed multijoint exercises that work large muscle groups. Squats and the lunges and lunge variations worked your entire leg and all of your leg muscles, but now that you are moving into the intermediate phase of your training we will be introducing some isolation exercises. Isolation exercises will be “isolating” particular muscles or smaller muscle groups, in this case calves and hamstrings (the muscles on the backs of your legs).
The Romanian deadlift will isolate and train your glutes and hamstrings. With your feet shoulder width apart or a slightly narrower stance, grab a pair of dumbbells or a barbell and keeping your back and arms straight stand upright. Now slowly lower the weight back down to your feet until your hamstrings are completely stretched and then return to the upright position. Remember to keep your back and arms straight. Again during this intermediate phase your goal is 3 sets of 12 reps. Increase the weight gradually.
Next we need to work those calf muscles. Standing calf raises will isolate those calves and can be done with dumbbells or a barbell. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell firmly on your shoulders and raise up as high as you possibly can on your toes and squeeze your calf muscles. Lower your heels back to the floor and repeat. Once you become more comfortable with calf raises, place a board under your toes and raise up on that. Calves require additional training so your goal should be 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps and increase the weights you use as often as you can.