3 Leg Exercises You Probably Aren't Doing
We all know that leg day is the most (or least) revered day on our training schedule. As such, much thought and anticipation goes into preparing for this act of brutal self torture. You may at times feel anxious about what may happen when you set up under that barbell in the squat rack, you might feel some resent in that your legs just started to feel better from the last thrashing and it's time to wreck them again or you might look at it as an opportunity to inflict some positive pain. However you approach this day, my aim with this article is to help you inflict just a little more pain into your life by encouraging you to start including the following three leg exercises into your plans that you probably haven't thought of utilizing before. So here they are in no particular order and you can thank me for them later.
*I highly recommend using these exercises as the final movement for the day to really finish off your legs
Oh yes, box jumps aren't just for those looking to increase their vertical jumping power or help them prepare for movements out on the field or court. They are also great for building muscle by tapping into your fast twitch muscle fibres by way of their explosive nature in performing them. A true box jump will see you setting up beside the box, in a standard athletic position with your feet roughly shoulder width apart and stationary on the floor followed by a body weight squat and then up into an explosive jump finishing by landing on top of the box at the height that you had chosen to jump and then back down to the floor. You don't need to be able to jump that high to benefit from these and I can guarantee you that a few sets of these to finish things off after your leg workout and your legs will be pumped beyond belief.
This exercise has grown on me significantly and has become one of my own personal favourites for finishing off leg day. It is an awesome way to apply constant tension to the muscles of the legs to further increase the burn you're no doubt already feeling in your legs. Second to that, it's also a great way to improve your cardiovascular work capacity as you should be quite winded after performing these. If you choose to do the push version, just dig in with each step you take and pump those legs non-stop until you reach your designated finish line. If you decide to use the pull version, hook yourself up to the sled with a tether, stay low while walking backwards and focus on driving through your heels with each step you take. The nice thing about using the sled is that you can easily increase resistance or the load you're using by adding more weight which makes this a great exercise for the progressive overload strategy.
Plyo Box Dumbbell/Kettlebell Squats
So the last exercise I implore you to try, is a dumbbell/kettlebell squat while standing on two separate plyo boxes. Here's how you do it. Get two plyo boxes and set them up side by side at exactly the same height. Make sure that you leave a space between the two so that there's enough room for a dumbbell or kettlebell to fit between them. Next, get yourself one dumbbell or one kettlebell and set it down on top of one of the boxes. Then, jump up and position yourself on the boxes so that one foot is on each box with the space between the boxes directly below you and centered between your legs. Finally, grab hold of the dumbbell not by the handle but by the end of it so that it is in a vertical position (if using a kettlebell just hold the handle), hold it in front of you with both hands so that the weight is hanging between your legs and then squat down as far as you can. You will notice that you can squat much deeper this way because the dumbbell/kettlebell will travel down through the space you created between the two boxes. Continue doing this until your set is complete. What you should notice is the benefit from the extreme stretch you allowed to occur from this set up.
I know by looking at these exercises that they don't really fit the norm for what a bodybuilding exercise typically is but in keeping with the message from the last article, you have to remember that any exercise has potential and the three mentioned here have a tremendous amount of potential for helping you grow your legs. As well, these exercises, much like any other leg exercise, require a lot of stability to perform them safely so make sure you're wearing your flat soled bodybuilding shoes from Heyday Footwear in any of the versions we offer. If you can do that and use these exercises effectively, you will see new growth in no time flat!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.