When you think leg training, generally the first thing that pops into your head is probably "squats."
And the squat is absolutely one of THE most effective exercises you can do for legs, along with being a very basic movement pattern.
THIS version of the squat is going to add another dimension to your squat training by increasing the range of motion, having you do it one leg, and challenging your balance.
You may not be using as much weight, but you'll be hitting the legs in a very different way from normal squats. This is a nice variation to use when you're not looking to train the legs heavy but you still want to work them hard.
For this, you'll need a flat bench and a couple of dumbbells. I'm just using 25 lb dumbbells here...you don't need much weight at all when doing these. You're going to make up for it with range of motion and the balance requirement (it's the balancing on the bench on one foot that works the stabilizing muscles of the calves extremely well).
So grab your dumbbells and stand up on the bench. Now stand on one foot, holding the dumbbells to the side. Your other leg should be a little behind you.
Now squat down.
Here's the key...as you squat down, bring the dumbbells in FRONT of you, counterbalancing your body so you can comfortably go WAY down...basically until your chest hits your thigh.
DON'T set your other foot down on the ground unless you lose your balance (and that might happen the first few sets of this you do. If you do lose your balance or start to, just lightly touch or tap your other foot on the ground to regain it then keep going.
It's the constant tension on the working leg through a BIG range of motion that really does the job on this one.
Now push yourself back up to the standing position and repeat. You can do all your reps on one leg then switch to the other, you can alternate legs, or you can do a couple of reps on each leg alternating back and forth.
This is not an easy exercise to do, especially if you've not done a whole lot of one-leg training before, but I've found it to be extremely effective for hitting the legs with tension while still training relatively light.
Just remember, the key is to bring the dumbbells forward in a bit of a front raise as you come down to counterbalance your body, allowing you to keep better balance.
I generally keep this one to about 5 to 6 reps per leg, because of the balance component.
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