In this article we present you with 6 advanced exercises for legs for greater strength and better muscle growth. Key characteristic is their increased level of difficulty, but this difficulty does not come without reward!
These exercises will help you improve not only the size but also the strength and explosiveness of the muscles in your legs. The leg muscles are one of the most important parts of the body that you need to exercise, here we suggest you some exercises in addition to the effective but classic exercises for the legs such as the squats, the deadlifts, the press and the leg raises. Raise the difficulty level and your results will take off!
1. Front Rack Lunges
These are the traditional lunges with the only difference that this time you hold the bar not behind the neck but in front.
– This allows you to put more emphasis on the quadriceps than the glutes.
– However, I warn you that the position of the bar and the mechanics of the movement may make it seem quite difficult at first. But with enough practice you will get all the benefits of this fantastic exercise.
– You can perform the projections in the traditional way by taking a step forward and returning. If you want to challenge yourself even more, perform the opposite movement starting with a back step.
2. The Jefferson Squat
The Jefferson Squat it is an “old school” movement that is quite neglected in the gyms, mostly seen today in Powerlifting events, like Strongman, where athletes lift VERY heavy stones in a similar form (but without the bar)! It is a very effective exercise to increase the strength and size of your glutes and quadriceps, as well as to improve your neuromuscular fitness and coordination.
– For this movement the bar is placed diagonally under your body between your legs. Sit with your feet apart forming a 90 degree angle, slightly wider than shoulder height.
The more open your legs are, the more emphasis you will put on your glutes.
Grab the bar with a mixed handle (palm forward and backward), keep your torso as straight as possible, and push with your feet to make the movement. Additionally, because this movement puts more emphasis on one side than the other, you can target one foot more than the other. That way you are given the option to improve any asymmetries in your body.
Another significant benefit is the stabilization of the core and strengthening incurred by the resistance against movement. This is due to the unusual position of the bar which requires your core to work hard to keep it in the correct position.
Jefferson Squats are an incredible addition the classic leg exercises and a very powerful tool to help you improve your performance in all the basic moves!
3. Alternating Split Squat Jump
Starting from the classic Lunge position, you jump high enough so that you can alternate your legs in the air. The bounce is done in the most explosive way possible and during the landing you return to the classic lunge position where your knee almost touches the ground.
– This exercise is not for beginners as it is very demanding and requires a strong foundation before attempting it.
– It is a great exercise to build strength and explosiveness for sports that require jumping such as basketball and tennis, avoiding lifting heavy weights to ensure fast twitching muscles remains trained
– It will also help you improve your cardiorespiratory endurance.
– If you are at an advanced level and want to increase your performance, then you should include this exercise in your workouts since doing only a few repetitions with this High Intensity exercise, you will feel like you have been running sprints out in the track.
4. High Knee Step Up (done right!)
This is a fantastic exercise for activating the whole leg and can work like a terrific physical exercise to improve your performance if you are involved in a sport. However, in order to receive the full benefits, you need to learn how to perform this exercise effectively and correctly.
– Your goal is to activate MAINLY the front leg. You need to try to use the back leg ONLY for balance!
– You MUST AVOID using your back leg to push yourself to do the exercise. This will wear the tension off the front leg making the exercise less effective.
– Exercise and initially perform the exercise at a very slow pace to feel the muscles of your buttocks and quadriceps be activated. From there, increase the load until it allows you to fail at the repetitions you want.
– To increase difficulty, you can use extra weights (dumbbells, bar or kettlebells). By adjusting the way you hold the weights, such as on one side only, you could create some controlled instability to improve your balance capabilities.
5. Deadlifts from an Elevated Position (Deficit Deadlifts)
I am sure you are all familiar with Deadlifts. However, something that limits this movement is the height at which the bar stops due to the height of the discs – reaching the floor. You can overcome this limitation as described below:
– By placing your body on an elevated point such as a 1/2ft high Step, you will be able to start and finish the movement from a lower level.
– As you know, deadlifts consist of two parts. The first part is when the bar moves from the ground to the knees, activating the legs more, and the second part is when the bar moves from the knees to the locking position, where the waist is more active.
– With this variation you will be forced to lower your body even more, increasing the distance to your knees giving more emphasis to activating your legs.
– It also helps you a lot if you have a weak point in the classic deadlift when detaching the weight from the floor.
– Note, you will need to have enough flexibility and you may need to start with a less weight until you can execute the technique properly to avoid injury. Again, all points of attention apply as in the classic deadlifts, ie straight back, neutral spine, etc.
6. Barbell Hack Squat
Last but not least! The hack squat is probably the most underrated move for quadriceps workouts. By performing this movement, you will be able to grow your “game” and gain strong and athletic legs!
– In fact, bar hack squat is very similar to death lifts. However, if we take a closer look at the movement, we will observe that the muscles that work together to execute the movement are completely different!
– While deadlifts put more emphasis on the muscles in the back of your body, with hack squats, most of the work will be done by your quadriceps.
– You start by holding the bar behind your feet. At first you may find the position a bit awkward, however by lifting the bar keeping in touch with the back of your legs you will feel a strong activation in your quadriceps.
– Due to the placement of the bar, the trapezoids (higher back) do not work as hard, and your waist does not have as much load as in the deadlifts. This will make you feel the burn in your quads.
– Add this movement to your exercise book as a supplementary routine and suddenly your performance will be boosted to mush higher levels!
Important Note: This article contains some difficult movements that, if not executed properly, might result in serious injury. Please consult your trainer and physician if you feel unexpected pain in your joints, tendons, back muscles etc. to help you perform the routines better or change your training schedule according to your needs.