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  • What's up, guys?

  • Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.

  • Breaking out the muscle markers, yet again, to continue the perfect workout series.

  • This time, hitting the legs.

  • Guys, as always in our perfect workout series, what were trying to do is construct a workout

  • that is damned close to perfect as possible.

  • Realizing that there are a lot of ways to skin a cat.

  • But if we can choose one way, what would we do, and why would we do it?

  • That’s what’s most important here.

  • Why are we selecting what were selecting?

  • To do that we always start with the anatomy because we want to understand the function

  • of the muscles were trying to train.

  • When we look at the quadriceps, we know that because of the namequadricepsit’s

  • got four components here.

  • It’s got a medial component on the inside of the knee called the vastus medialis.

  • We have a lateral component on the outside of the knee called the vastus lateralis.

  • Go figure, we have one in the middle of the knee that’s not seen here because under

  • the muscle that is seen is called the vastus intermedius.

  • The one that is seen here is called the rectus femoris and unlike the other three components

  • of the quads, this one does have an attachment above the hip, allowing us to have some function

  • on the hip, in terms of its ability to lift you into flexion.

  • It’s a weak flexor at that, but at least it has something unique about it that we want

  • to make sure we consider.

  • The other three muscles, however, are able to, and are really good at extending the knee.

  • That is their main focus.

  • They start in the femur, they end across the knee joint, and they are able to extend that

  • knee.

  • Now, whether that means were sitting down doing a leg extension – I don’t like when

  • you do leg extensionsor you have your feet in a closed chain environment with your

  • feet in contact with the ground like a squat – I like squatsthat will give you the

  • same opportunity to extend your knee.

  • We want to make sure were training that.

  • On the other side we have our hamstrings.

  • We know with the hamstrings there are different components to this as well.

  • We have something that’s a little more medial.

  • We have something that’s a more lateral.

  • The biceps femoris on the outside, the semitendinosus on the inside, and then we have even more

  • on the inside of the semimembranosus.

  • A lot of different names, guys, but we have reasons for wanting to approach them in a

  • strategic way.

  • Were going to do that for you in this workout.

  • Then, of course, you can’t always focus on just the sagittal plane.

  • I know we like to walk and move in this direction, but we can’t ignore the other planes of

  • motion.

  • Mainly, the frontal plane and the transverse plane.

  • We want to make sure were including exercises to do that.

  • Squats alone, no matter how great they are, they won’t train your hips in that way.

  • So, were going to do exercises to make sure were hitting the hips, the glutes,

  • the hamstrings, and the quads.

  • By the way, guys, there will be no muscle markers for the glutes.

  • I know Jesse volunteered.

  • He's been in these videos naked before.

  • It ain’t going to happen, guys.

  • Use your imagination.

  • I’m going to show you why and how it is so critical that you get the glutes and hamstrings

  • to function together if you want the perfect leg workout.

  • With that, let’s get started.

  • Breaking it all down, one by one.

  • So, with all of our perfect workouts we kick this thing off with a good, compound exercise.

  • The best, when it comes to training the legs.

  • That is the squat.

  • What we do here with the squat is work our way up in a warmup fashion.

  • In the warmups I never want you to exhaust yourselves in warming up.

  • To do that, what I recommend is working your way up through some submaximal sets.

  • If you can do half of what your working weight is going to be, then use about 20% less than

  • what youre working weight is going to be.

  • Just do a few reps with each weight.

  • Enough towe call itgrease the groove’.

  • To prepare yourself for the working sets.

  • What I like to do individually when it comes to the squat is something we call a ‘touchup

  • set’.

  • With a touchup set were trying to overreach with 10% of what were going to do in our

  • first working set, to our five-rep max.

  • What we do is a box squat.

  • The box squat will allow us to get down there, to feel the safety, to have the confidence

  • that we have a bottom point.

  • It will give us that biofeedback to knowthat’s what I’m heading for’.

  • Give it a one or two rep touch, come back up, then start your working sets.

  • What does that do, neurologically?

  • That overreach allows us to feel more ready and able to attack our working sets with a

  • lighter we fight.

  • This, what would normally be our heavier weight, has now become lighter by the performance

  • of that one set.

  • Neurologically, it’s a powerful tool.

  • So now I go in a 5-5-10-25 format.

  • Were starting with our heavier sets here and what we do is work ourselves up to a 10

  • rep, and then a ball-busting 25 rep max because it's important.

  • Training your legs to higher reps is something youre always going to want to do if, for

  • nothing else, to train your mental fortitude.

  • But we want to get our heavy training in as well.

  • So, I like to scale it up in this way.

  • In between sets, one of the best things we can do, as I’ve covered in our perfect back

  • workout, is have some compression going on because of the loading of the squat.

  • We can get a decompression component by hanging from the bar in between sets for about 30

  • seconds.

  • Youre going to rest about three minutes between these work sets, and then you move

  • onto the next component here.

  • Now were going to hit the posterior chain.

  • We have two options here.

  • Number one: the barbell hip thrust.

  • Again, a compound movement to hit the glutes and hamstrings in one, powerful movement.

  • What this exercise does is allows us to load up pretty heavy.

  • In comparison to what your option is, that is the glute-ham raise.

  • I know not a lot of us have the glute-ham raise machine which takes it off the table

  • right off the bat.

  • But if you do have it, I’m going to explain why it provides some additional benefits.

  • Although, it’s at the expense of your ability to load it with a lot of weight like you can

  • a barbell hip thrust.

  • What we do is, first and foremost, if you choose a barbell hip thrust your rep sequencing

  • here is 25-10-5-5.

  • Were working backward.

  • Why are we doing that?

  • 25 reps, when it comes to this movement pattern, the most important thing you can do when youre

  • training your posterior chain is initiate with your glutes.

  • Get your glutes to be the main driver of the movement.

  • Then allow the hamstrings to assist.

  • A lot of us do not have good control over our glutes.

  • We have to face facts.

  • So, what we do is take the lighter weight to start and really try to establish that

  • mind-muscle connection.

  • Try to establish that purposeful movement, initiating with the glutes, and then squeezing

  • with the hamstrings.

  • We can do that with a lighter weight that allows us to get into the movement pattern.

  • Then as we get more comfortable here, we get locked in.

  • Then we want to start adding weight.

  • That’s why we start high and go low, as opposed to the other side with the squats.

  • Now, if you were to choose the glute-ham raise as your alternative you would still use the

  • same rep scheme, but you’d have to load yourself appropriately to do that.

  • To do that you might have to use an assisted version, using your hands to creep yourself

  • up during the first portion of this exercise.

  • Or as you got into the heavier ranges you might want to include some weight held across

  • your chest to allow you to fail in these heavier ranges.

  • But what is the difference here?

  • The difference is that were getting active knee flexion here in the glute-ham raise that

  • were not getting in the barbell hip thrust.

  • There’s a lot more of an isometric component to the knee flexion of the hamstrings in the

  • barbell hip thrust.

  • So, youre going to feel this more directly in your hamstrings when you do this exercise.

  • However, you will also feel this in your glutes if you do it right.

  • That’s the driver out of this flexed position.

  • It’s the initiation of the move back to the top by squeezing your cheeks together

  • as hard as possible.

  • And there’s a possibility you might not even need to load this exercise as natural

  • fatigue starts to drop your reps considerably as you go from your first set to your last.

  • But I will say this: because of the fact that youre never going to be able to load as

  • much as you can with a barbell hip thrust, particularly through hip extension, if your

  • main goal is training for strength, I would opt toward the barbell hip thrust over this

  • alternative.

  • But never overlook the value of this exercise as it’s one of my favorites, especially

  • for athletes.

  • Moving on, one of the things I preach all the time as a trainer to athletes is the value

  • of single leg training.

  • You get an additional benefit, especially for athleticism and training single leg that

  • we want to make sure we don’t overlook.

  • It incorporates more hip stability in that frontal plane.

  • As I’ve said, most people overlook that valuable element, opting for all bilateral

  • training.

  • This is one of the things you get from it.

  • So, we do a dumbbell Bulgarian split squat in a high-low fashion.

  • What does that mean?

  • It means we can load this more through our quads, or we can load it more through our

  • glutes and posterior chain, depending upon the angle of our torso on each repetition.

  • So, if I were to drop straight down, I know that I’ve effectively loaded the quads predominantly

  • on this exercise.

  • Initiating the liftoff from the bottom of this exercise through the quads providing

  • most of the overload there.

  • But if come back up and then the next rep, I go down into what we call a sprinter lunge

  • position.

  • That’s immediately loading the posterior chain by placing the glutes under enormous

  • stretch.

  • So, what I do is alternate repetitions to failure.

  • So, if I’m doing 12, I have 6 done straight up, 6 done bent over, and I’m going to keep

  • that going.

  • Now, when were done with these two sets there’s one more thing we want to do before

  • we call it quits and move onto the next exercise.

  • That is a bodyweight plyometric version of this exercise.

  • Why?

  • Because we know two things are going to happen here.

  • Number one: you should always try to speed up what you slow down.

  • When you train slow you eventually become slow unless you try to become more explosive

  • and deliberate with your movements.

  • This is a great opportunity for us to do that.

  • But second, back in the intro I mentioned to you that the different elements of our

  • quadriceps musclesespecially the vastus medialis.

  • Its main role there is for stability of the knee, particularly in landing situations.

  • So, what we can do is help that.

  • We can try to train that more effectively by including some sort of a jumping exercise.

  • Especially a unilateral jumping exercise like this one, to make sure were not overlooking

  • that key function.

  • And again, it allows us to become a little more athletic in our training, which should

  • always be a goal of yours.

  • Speaking of that inside area of the knee, one of the things that people have mistaken,

  • in terms of training your knee, is that terminal knee extension is incredibly important for

  • working or isolating the interior portion of your quad.

  • That teardrop vastus medialis.

  • That’s not true, guys.

  • You can’t isolate that area of your quads.

  • However, what you can do is influence its ability to contract fully, by making sure

  • you go into full extension.

  • What we can do here is do that, not having to jump on a leg extension machine to do it.

  • I prefer closed chain environments, where my foot is in contact with the floor.

  • That is how athletes train.

  • So, with this setup here, we have a TK Drop lunge.

  • I grab some weights here, I put them in my hands, so I have some load, and we can go

  • heavy.

  • What I do is put the band behind my knee and I’m resisting.

  • It’s pulling my knee forward.

  • When I get up from that drop lunge and I come up to the top I drive my knee back as hard

  • as possible, into full extension.

  • There’s no danger in driving your knee into full extension.

  • There’s a myth about lockout, being some sort of damaging component of a joint’s

  • function when it’s a complete function of a joint.

  • Take it through its full range of motion.

  • Do two to three sets with a 10 to 12 rep max in your hands for the drop lunge on each leg,

  • and we continue.

  • Now we get into the other component here where, again, a lot of guy’s workouts would end

  • here, or they would say the rest of it is unnecessary.

  • As a physical therapist I will tell you that’s not the case because I say it all the time:

  • all muscles matter.

  • Just because we want to train quads and hamstrings doesn’t mean that’s all we have to train,

  • or all we should be training.

  • We need to train the muscles on the inside and outsides of our legs as well.

  • There’s where the adductors come in.

  • This exercise is an incredible way to do this.

  • It’s a dumbbell goblet adductor lunge.

  • What were doing is performing a side lunge but look what I’m performing it on.

  • Some sort of a slick surface.

  • Here I have a slick board.

  • You can do this on a floor, on a hardwood floor with your socks on.

  • What youre trying to do is, when you drop straight down into that side lunge, how are

  • you initiating the return?

  • Don’t just pull it or step it back to the middle.

  • What you need to do is pull it and slide it back to the middle, activating those adductors

  • that we looked in the beginning of this video, on the inside of your leg.

  • That’s what is driving you up.

  • Youre almost squeezing your legs together on the floor, as opposed to lifting it.

  • There’s a major difference in terms of the recruitment of the muscles in your legs when