101 WORKOUTS: #41 LEGS - 15-MINUTES
Speed is king in this ultra-fast thigh blaster. And instead of wimping out on machines to rip through your legs in a hurry, you get the benefits of the best two exercises ever invented: squats and deadlifts. No, this isn’t easy, but there’s no doubt it’ll get you results.
- Set up for both exercises in the first compound set before beginning. This means having the step-up box and dumbbells next to the squat rack before you start your squats. (On the second compound set, you need nothing except your own body for the mountain climbers, so any potential equipment problems are eliminated.)
Start: Step under the bar in a shoulder-width stance, and keep your elbows back to form a ridge along your upper back where the bar can sit.
Move: Keeping your head up and your body tensed, bend at the knees and let your glutes track backward to lower yourself. At the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, reverse direction, driving up forcefully through your heels to a standing position.
Start: Place a knee-high step in front of you and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet in a comfortable shoulder-width stance.
Move: Step forward with one leg onto the step and drive through that thigh to bring your body upward. Bring the trailing leg to the top of the step and stand on the box, then step back with the opposite leg to the floor and lower yourself. Be sure to keep your lower back in its natural arch and your upper body upright through the whole movement. (If you prefer, instead of alternating legs, you can complete all reps for one leg, then do all your reps for the other — in this case, your working leg steps onto the bench and also steps back to the floor.)
Start: The deadlift is often thought of as a back exercise — and it is, but it’s also an incredible leg-builder, as you’re essentially dropping into a squat in the bottom position. Grasp a barbell with a mixed grip (one palm forward, one back — this helps you maintain your grip on the barbell during the exercise). Bend deeply at your knees, look up and make sure you maintain the natural curve in your lower spine. (In fact, the minute you start losing control over your lower back and round forward, stop the set!)
Move: Keep your abs pulled in tight and tense your entire body, then drive through your heels to straighten your knees and bring your hips forward until you are in a standing position. Once standing, bring your shoulders back slightly and pause. Lower the barbell along the same path (close to your body all the way down) to the floor. Touch the plates lightly to the floor and begin your next rep. As a final note, don’t make the common mistake of using too much lower back; bend deeply at the knees on each rep, and, as mentioned above, keep your lower spine arched.
Start: Get into a push-up position, placing both hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor and set your feet so you’re on your toes.
Move: Without moving your hands, bring one leg forward, then start alternating your foot position, pushing up off the floor with your feet and switching foot position, one forward, one back, as quickly as you can for the prescribed time.