Strong and powerful legs are critical if you want to be at the pinnacle of your sport. For female athletes, they are essential if you play basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, track or any other sport that involves speed, changes of direction and explosive movements.
During the summer, take the time to prepare for your upcoming season and build the strongest and best legs of your life. The four rules below will help you achieve your strength and physique goals, whether you play a sport or simply want to improve your fitness.
Rule #1: Butt to the Grass
Strive to get your butt as close to the ground as possible when you Squat. This increases leg and glute muscle activation so you get better results from the exercise. It's best to go at least 15 degrees below parallel (figure below). However, you must ease into this to get accustomed to deep Squats. You might have to lift less weight or start with just your bodyweight to achieve this angle. Always remember: never sacrifice your technique.
Rule #2: Perform Two Lower-Body Workouts Per Week
Perform at least two lower-body workouts per week to achieve your desired strength and physique. The lower body consists of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. When you engage them, your heart has to work hard to get blood to them, and thus testosterone and human growth hormone are released, which increase muscle size.
Rule #3: Avoid Isolation Exercises
It's best to develop the lower body with lifts that use multiple muscle groups at a time, like the Deadlift, Power Clean, Squat, Lunge and RDL. These not only engage the targeted muscles, they strengthen the entire lower body, so you get a greater benefit with each rep.
Rule #4: Perform Plyos
Plyos are one of the best types of exercise for improving sports performance. They involve maximal contractions with movements that closely resemble athletic skills, like jumping. They also increase heart rate and help tone your legs.
Make sure to develop a base of strength for at least three months before performing a plyo routine. This will give you the support structure you'll need to perform the exercises safely and effectively.
Perform the following leg routine for four to six weeks to strengthen your lower body and achieve your desired physique.
- Add weight each set
- Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets during Workout 1. Up the rest time to two to three minutes between sets for Workout 2.
- Do not perform workouts on consecutive days
Front Squats - 4x15,12,10,8
Back Squats - 4x15,12,10,8
Lunges and Weighted Step-Ups Superset- 3x15,12,10 each exercise
Jump Squats - 2x2
Broad Jumps - 3x5
Depth Jumps - 3x5
Vertical Jumps - 4x5
Squats and RDL Superset - 4x5 each exercise
Jump Rope - 5x1 minute
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