Leg workouts with only squats, deadlifts, leg extensions and hamstring curls will only get you so far.
It might be easy to get stuck in the same leg day routine. Plus, everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't you? But, just with any routine, you can hit plateaus, and risk underworking other muscles that are essential to your everyday activities (and can even give your regular leg day routine a boost!).
Here’s a list of exercises to supplement into your workouts!
1. B-stance Hip Thrusts
This exercise places a 30-70 split between your front and back leg, essentially making it a single leg movement. As the angle of your front leg is greater than 90 degrees, the ability to produce force decreases. However, since the leg is still on the ground, this takes some of the awkward balancing out of doing a single leg hip thrust.
Shoulders in the same position as a regular hip thrust, and adopt a narrower stance with the front heel in line with toes. Brace the core to prevent the back from arching and drive the bar up through the heels. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the motion and squeeze the glute hard at the top of each repetition. Repeat on the other side.
2. Side lunge with glider
Most of our leg workouts are primarily set in the sagittal plane, but these movements do not prepare us well for surprises in life such as slipping on ice due to the immobility in our adductors.
Place glider under one foot. As you’re lunging down, keep the thigh tracking over the second and third toes, maintain a neutral spine and have the outstretched leg straight. On the way back up, focus on preventing foot pronation and knee valgus.
3. TRX Bulgarian split squats
Unilateral exercises has many benefits when executed correctly, including better core balance and isolating muscle imbalances, subsequently aiding in injury prevention and improving performance.
Place one foot in the handle at around knee height. Descend and focus on engaging the glutes to prevent knee valgus. It is important to keep the core engaged to prevent arching in the back as the hip flexors and glutes get stretched.
4. Nordic curls
It is important to implement eccentric movements in any training program, as it is shown to promote muscle growth as an overloading technique. It has also been effective in injury prevention, for example many hamstring strains occur when they are unable to decelerate effective enough.
Lodge the heels under a stable surface, such as a lat pulldown machine or get your training partner to hold your heels. Slowly descend down while keeping your shoulder hip and knee in a straight line, and catch yourself as the stretch becomes too intense.
5. Cable Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts are very important in developing a strong posterior chain (muscles from the base of the foot, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back extensors on either side of the spine leading all the way up to the head). This movement is easily transferable to daily activities such as picking up objects from the ground. Changing it to a single leg exercise also challenges our body’s balance systems (proprioception, vestibular, and visual), as well as training the intrinsic foot and calf muscles.
Tilt the torso downwards, allow one leg to lift up, and the arm on the same side will be holding onto the handle. Focus on hinging at the hip and keep the knee on the grounded foot slightly bent.