Never Miss Leg Day Again With This Brutal Lower Body Session
We’ve shown you how to grow a chest like Arnie, demonstrated the best way to build your endurance and highlighted the most efficient ways to torch your core. Now, it’s time to hit the most-neglected part of fitness training – the legs.
It may not evoke the same excitement as a bi’s and tri’s day, but leg sessions are the backbone of any training program so skip them at your peril. Here, we’ve tasked GQ’s resident PT Janis Blums with designing a leg session that will be both effective and simple to follow, so there are no excuses.
Part of the anxiety around leg sessions is the fact they can often entail movements life squats and deadlifts, which, when performed incorrectly, can cause serious injury. So, today we have avoided these in favour of ‘unilateral movements’ – ie one-legged movements – that, according to Blums, will “provide a more functional approach” and help minimise injury.
Today, we will target the Big Four of leg muscles – quads, hamstrings, glutes and adductors. While these muscles are relatively large and can withstand bigger weights, if you are new to some of today’s movements use a low weight or non at all, in order to maintain stability and balance through the reps.
Exercise Sets/reps Rest
Glute bridges 3 x 10/leg Minimal
Split squats 3 x 10-15 Minimal
Step ups 3 x 10-15 Minimal
Courtesy squat to Cossack squat 3 x 10 Minimal
Swing lunges 3-5 sets for 60 sec/leg 30 seconds between sets
5 minutes’ steady walking on incline treadmill.
5 minutes’ mobility and flexibility work, including:
Activate pelvic stabilizers:
Exercise 1 – Glute Bridges (three variations)
Single leg glute bridges on floor.
Sets: 3 x 10 reps on each side.
With all three bridge variations, it’s vital that you keep your left and right hip level during each rep to ensure that you are maintaining lateral stability across the pelvic girdle.
Keep shoulders on floor then raise feet onto a box or bench so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees and repeat.
Finally, raise shoulders to box or bench with feet on floor and repeat.
Exercise 2 – Split squats
Sets: 3 x 5-15 reps each leg
If you are looking to improve mobility, stability and motor control, start light with higher reps. For strength, go heavier with dumbbells held by your side.
Always remain on the big toe of the rear foot and execute with an up and down motion with a slight forward tilt of the torso.
Keep most of your body weight over the front leg and ensure the front heel remains on the floor at all times.
Exercise 3 – Step ups
Sets: 3 x 5-15 reps each leg
Begin with one foot elevated on a box/bench that’s about knee height. Hold two dumbbells by your side in a farmer’s carry position and execute a step up. As the rear leg comes up to the box continue to raise it into a high march position so that you are balancing on one leg. Slowly lower the leg back to the ground.
Exercise 4 – Courtesy squat to Cossack squat
Sets: 3 x 10 reps on each leg
Again you can use a pair of dumbbells kept by your side as you keep one leg stationary (anchored) and the other moving from a curtsey position (behind and across) to a Cossack position (away and to the side) of the anchor leg.
Try to keep your chest and shoulders up with a braced core in both positions.
Exercise 5 – Swing lunges
Sets: 3-5 sets.
Rest: 30 seconds.
Here we keep one leg anchored for 60 seconds as the moving leg swings from a reverse lunge to a forward lunge without touching down between the two end positions.
Then switch the anchor and moving legs and perform for another 60 seconds.
Rest for 30 seconds before performing another 3-5 sets depending on your level.