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An Impressive How-To
Everyone has their favorite exercises. Often times, our least favorite ones are those that are most beneficial. Its not within our nature to expose our own weaknesses, but being able to identify and address our needs is part of the process of moving forward in our training.
My two favorite lower body exercises used to fall into the category of those that I hated. When recovering from a lumbar fracture, I wasnt able to backsquat or deadlift. I believed that training for strong and massive legs was now a lost cause as I refused to demasculate myself by becoming the local leg press king.
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Ive always loved the barbell so I searched for variations that would allow me to lift heavy weights without loading the spine or putting too much stress on the back. After practicing different exercises and seeing which ones I got the most out of, these are the two that I started implementing into my training.
I. Barbell Reverse Lunge With A Clean Grip
The two primary lower body exercises for most guys in the gym: leg press and a half ass back squat.
The two (effective) lower body exercises I don’t see enough people doing: front squats and unilateral exercises.
Now what happens when the front squat and unilateral exercises make a baby? You get the most alpha hybrid of unilateral lower body exercises: Barbell Reverse Lunge with a Clean Grip!
Okay, that might be a little biased of a statement
Most people opt to using the cross over grip for their front squats as there are few out there who have ample wrist flexibility to be using the clean grip. And since it’s already uncommon to see guys training unilaterally for their lower body work, why not be part of an even rarer breed who does their lower body unilateral work by loading their burly chest with a plate loaded barbell?
What it’s good for
Because of the axial loading on the front leg and the big push off the rear foot, you can load this variation a lot more than you can load any other type of lunge.
Due the anterior load, the abdominal wall and spinal erectors are forced to work in synchrony to maintain the upright position, both in the eccentric and concentric portion of the movement. This requires perfect body position and less weight to be loaded on the bar. This would be a good time to put the ego aside
By using the clean grip, there will be a lot more carry over to the clean catch, push jerk, and push press than using a crossover grip. If you are a beginner in this exercise, don’t be surprised if you go up in weights quickly once you’ve mastered the movement.
How to do it
- The grip should be at about shoulder width. Drive your elbows up and let the barbell roll towards the knuckles. If you have really good wrist flexibility, roll it onto your finger tips.
- Shelf the barbell on the meaty part of your shoulders. It should be right against your neck.
- Pack your neck, looking straight ahead. Keep a tall chest.
- Un-rack the bar, take two steps back to get to your starting position.
- Keep your abs tight like you are about to get punched in the stomach. This is especially important during the concentric portion.
- Extend one leg back while the front knee bends and the hips lower. Do not wait for the back foot to make contact with the ground before you start flexing the front knee. This is not a split squat.
- Gently tap the floor with your rear knee.
- Pull through with the front heel of the front leg to return to the starting position. Make sure you pull the hips through and squeeze that glute.
II. One-Leg, Two-Arm Straight-Leg Deadlift
If it weren’t for my injury, I wouldve never seen the value in this single leg version of the straight leg deadlift. I have found that the double-leg version of the straight-leg deadlift isn’t the easiest exercise to coach. My clients have a very difficult time learning how to flex the hips while stabilizing the spine.
What it’s good for
Performing the SLDL on one leg doesn’t only have a decrease in the lumbar load, you also get a tremendous amount of proprioceptive work at the ankle. Balance is enhanced all while the entire posterior chain is developed.
I normally have my athletes use a dumbbell for their one-leg SLDL, but using a barbell and switching to a double-arm grip alters the loads which provides greater stress to all of the trunk extensors and scapulae retractors. Even though the essence of the exercise is the same as the one-arm variation, you will be able to use a heavier loadwhich we can all agree looks more bad ass.
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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 10/09/2022