Taking the Training Wheels Off – Advanced Leg Day Exercises

“You can tell a lot about a man based on how he treats his mother and his leg day.”

~ Someone

4 years ago I was a “kid” beginning to discover himself in the gym. I had terrible overall lifting form, half-repped my squats (don’t do that!) and had below average legs.

Humor meant to represent not squatting properly

Fast forward to today and I have exponentially improved my lifting form, certainly do not half-rep my squats and am now the proud owner of some average legs. Thanks to a few advanced leg day exercises.

The learning curve was steep as I progressed into the world of bodybuilding and continuously working on improving my physique. It also didn’t help that I got into the sport at the ripe old age of 28. Sure age is just a number but I’m certainly not getting any younger. Soreness last a little longer and every additional year I feel some added tweaks/annoyances/discomfort all around my body. Regardless, I’ve become a student and tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible.

I posted an article about a year ago highlighting my favorite leg day exercises and what I routinely incorporate. A lot can change in a year and while all of that in the previous article holds true, I have found new advanced leg day texercises. Mostly in an effort to prolong my lifespan in the sport but also to help spare my body some of the brunt that goes into it.

 

Leg Press

You ever experience the guys that load up 10 plates on each side, grunt like they’re dying and do half reps? Yet you never see them at the Squat rack? Yup, do not be that guy…

Humor meant to represent those that overdo leg press

For me, the leg press has evolved into two new uses;

  • Unilateral Leg Press
  • Negative Leg Press

For me, using the leg press in a unilateral fashion (one leg at a time) is a great way to gauge any imbalances. Perhaps your left leg is a little stronger than your right. We want to ensure that we’re building our strength linearly to ensure balance, symmetry and aesthetics. Unilateral leg press also really allows me to feel every muscle working in that individual leg.

As for the negative press, this for me is a little higher up on the advanced leg day exercises list for me. Pumping out reps is easy because we can always call on momentum or terrible form to get us through. However, lowering the eccentric or negative phase slowly – to the tune of 4 seconds or slower – takes strong mental fortitude. Each rep will becoming grueling and you’ll have the chance to make weight that was light once seem like you’re setting a PR. Let it rip people!

BFR Leg Extensions

BFR stands for Blood Flow Restriction. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve certainly seen me make mention of my BFR straps. It has become a staple technique incorporated into training protocol.

BFR is quite simply restricting the flow of blood out of your extremities (arms & legs) in order for blood to remain within your muscles working. The restricted blood flow causes an increase in cell swelling. This causes a flight or fight response and the response is restructure and growth aka gains. Another benefit, is that lactic acid remains trapped and science has shown that lactic acid is actually quite anabolic. Yay! More gains!

This tops the list for me personally on my advanced leg day exercises list. Without a doubt, this is a scary thought and training technique. I’ll admit, I bought by BFR straps and didn’t actually start using them till about 3-4 months after (you know cuz betch!). As is the case with anything we do, educating ourselves and understanding our limits goes a long way. I think these for sure have contributed immensely to my development over the past year.

Zercher Squats

I can’t even remember how I discovered these or who I learned them from. But I am incredibly grateful that they’re in my life now.

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Without a doubt they look strange – it’s just not your everyday squat. And they definitely feel odd and uncomfortable. But I promise you that all those feels quickly subside once you feel the incredible activation in your quads.

If you’re like me, you struggle with Front Squats. I have a mild case of Shoulder Impingement so placing the bar on my front delts kills me. And I don’t have the wrist flexibility to be able to hook grip it. Zercher Squats were able to allow me to create the same load that a Front Squat does with the added benefits of activating my Traps and Core as well.

Slightly advanced leg day exercises but I highly recommend that you give them a go.

Cable Pull Throughs

My gluteus maximus is decent but it can certainly be better. That chase for a bigger booty has been difficult because I struggle with good glute activation. That’s where Cable Pull Throughs come in.

Image meant to represent hard work in developing glutes

It’s by far the exercise where I feel my glutes firing the most. For you incredibly macho guys that might think it’s not a manly enough exercise… that’s fine, I’ll be over here building a powerful rear end. And you know what a powerful rear end means? Better and bigger squatting.

And there you have it beautiful people… Hope you find these techniques useful.

What are some of the techniques you’re using now to grow your wheels?

 

 

 

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