If you want better legs and a better butt, this exercise combination is going to do the trick for you.
It targets the thighs and glutes VERY strongly, covering the squatting and the lunging movement patterns in one time-efficient set.
You'll be alternating reps of two thigh-and-glute focused exercises that share the same top position. You'll be doing a rep of One-Arm Gripping Dumbbell Squats followed by a rep of One-Arm Gripping Reverse Lunges.
The squatting movement is going to focus primarily on the quads while the reverse lunge will target the glutes and hamstrings. You'll be going back and forth between the two exercises every single rep for the duration of the set.
In the demo, I'm standing up on a Step riser. This isn't 100% necessary but I would recommend it if you have access to one (or anything else that's solid and stable that will elevated you a few inches off the ground). This will allow you to get greater range of motion on both exercises.
You'll also need something solid to grab onto in front of you. I'm using a bar set on the rails of the power rack.
You can use just about anything solid for this as well...a railing, a countertop, even a door handle, if you're training at home or on the road!
Hold onto the bar in front of you then squat down as far as you can. The beauty of this exercise technique is that your grip on the bar allows you to maintain a more vertical torso position, helping you focus on working the quads rather than on worrying about squat form (I find this to be an excellent barbell squat alternative for those with knee issues as well).
When you come back up, continue holding the bar then take a step back with your left leg.
Come down into a Reverse Lunge...all the way down until your knee touches the ground. This is where the Step riser really comes in handy. It'll allow you to get increased range of motion at the bottom, which increases the stretch and activation of the hamstrings and glutes at the bottom.
When you come back up, focus on pushing with your heel to further improve glute and hamstring activation.
Come back up and switch hands with the dumbbell and with your grip on the bar (I'll list another variation below where you keep the dumbbell on the same side the whole time).
Come up then step back with your right leg.
Repeat this sequence, going back and forth between legs.
As far as rep ranges go, this can very depending on your training goal. If you're looking for fat loss, I would recommend at least 8 to 10 reps on each Reverse Lunge movement for each leg, which will end up being about 16 to 20 reps of the squat (total). This means you'll need to use a fairly light to moderate weight.
When it comes to fat loss, I actually like to push this one to the limit, doing reps until Lactic Acid shuts me down.
You can also go fairly heavy with this one. I've gone as high as a 125 lb dumbbell with this exercise and it's extremely demanding (and effective!), so don't think for a second that you're limited to light weight on this one. In that case, you can work in the 3 to 5 rep range on each leg for the Reverse Lunge, which will be 6 to 10 reps on the squat.
And if you REALLY want to push things to the next level...use your heaviest dumbbell and add a weight vest (and yes, you will hate the next few days if you do it, especially if you do it on the Step riser and get that increased range of motion).
You can also perform this combination exercise keeping the dumbbell in the SAME hand through the entire movement. This means hold the dumbbell in your left hand and grip the bar with your right while you doing the squatting and switching legs.
Only your step-back leg will change, not the side you're holding the dumbbell on. To balance out the load, just hold the dumbbell in the other hand on the next set.
I've demonstrated this in the video after the first version, towards the end.
This version allows you to perform the exercise faster, making it a great cardiovascular workout as well. In addition, holding the single dumbbell hits the core strongly as well, especially as you get into heavier weights.
Overall, this is a GREAT exercise combination for targeting the thighs and glutes.
It's also EXTREMELY effective for fat-loss training as it works pretty much all the muscle mass in your entire lower body in one set.
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