Now you all know that I’m all about that #legday life and for a time I made everyday leg day... This is no surprise because what girl doesn’t want to have strong and shapely glutes so I thought I would run through my top three favourite exercises.
1. Glute Ham Raise AKA GHR
Now anyone that knows me will know that I like to fit this exercise into any workout if I can and it’s got to the point where my coach will hand me a weight plate and strap a resistance band over me in order to get me to reach failure…. But trust me I didn’t always love this exercise. As you will see below this exercise targets the whole posterior chain (back and hamstrings) so it’s an absolute killer and immensely satisfying.
How to perform:
1) Set the foot plate back far enough so that your knees are directly on or just behind the pad.
2) Begin upright (as sound below)
3) Slowly lower down, making sure your legs are straight by the time you are horizontal to the floor
4) You then want to use your hamstrings and glutes to help you return to the starting position. Trying to maintain good posture throughout the movement.
Now I didn’t always have the strongest hamstrings as a lot of my leg workouts were quad based. So there are a few things you can do to help build up to the full movement:
- Back extensions – you can start by placing the back plate further back and only coming up a small distance whilst you get used to the movement and strengthen your lower back.
- Perform negatives- this is when you perform a slow eccentric but push yourself back up.
This can be a great alternative to other hamstring exercises such as the lying hamstring curl or deadlifts so give it a try the next time you’re in the gym. Trust me your hamstrings will thank me for it!
2. 45 degree leg press
Yes I am that sick individual that loves the leg press. But why I hear you say?? Well, where do I begin, for one there are so many different variations that you can do on it that can actually make leg day more fun! Try some of these if you’re ever struggling for ideas:
- Banded leg press- make sure you lower the weight slightly here and prepare for a deep burn! The bands help to add extra tension on the movement and really helps you to burn out your quads
- Single leg press- A great way to work on any imbalances you may have
- High foot placement – This will help to target your glutes more
- Narrow foot placement- This will help to target your quads move
- ‘The Rack’ – introduced to me by my coach and quite possibly the only time I’ve been close to tears whilst training…… This goes a little something like this – 12 reps, hold for 12 seconds all the way down to 1 rep and then back up again.
- Leg press Tabatha - This requires pressing for 20 secs and resting for 10 seconds for a total of 8 rounds.
These are all but a few of the things that can be done on the leg press. It is also a great piece of kit for beginners as it doesn’t require much in the way of set up and is a great way of building up confidence before attempting exercises such as back squats etc.
3. Stiff Leg Deadlifts
I do have a soft spot for this exercise, whether it’s because I’ve spent the time building up my hamstrings or because my ridiculously long arms make this a little easier I don’t know…..
Anyway, so why are they good?
- These can be performed with either a barbell, dumbbell or cables so it makes for a very versatile exercise
- This exercise helps to build strength in both your lower back and hamstrings
- It is also a great exercise to help strengthen your glutes
How to perform:
1) Stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart and with knees slightly bent
2) Now Lower the bar/dumbbells down your legs, keeping your back flat and the weight close to your body. How far you can go down will depend on the individual and their flexibility so be cautious when starting out
3) Then use your hamstrings and glutes to help return to the start position. Making sure to engage your muscles throughout the movement.
Although these are my favourite I absolutely love most leg exercises and there is no better way to cheer me up on a bad day then smashing out a good leg session. So get yourself down the gym now and try some of these out!