Lifting heavy is great.
Lifting heavy all the time? Not so much.
Adding some smart accessory work to your workouts builds muscle and gives the joints a much needed break from maximal/near maximal loads.
One of my favorite movements for lower-body accessory work is the Dumbbell Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat with Rack Hold. The regular version of this exercise is no joke, but the addition of the rack hold really allows you to hammer those leg muscles. I also have my athletes utilize a “half rep” at the bottom of the movement between each rep, which turns this exercise into a quad-burner from hell:
How to Do It
- Position yourself just like you normally would for Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squats. If your left leg is on the ground, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell with your right hand.
- Grab an upright in a power rack with your free hand. Placing a barbell in J-hooks inside the rack and using it for support also works.
- For the half rep, go down, come halfway up, go down again, then come back up to the starting position in a pumping fashion. That counts as one rep.
- Maintain a slight bend in the knee of the working leg at the top. Doing so keeps more tension on the quad muscles, intensifying the burn.
- On the last few reps where it burns the most, you can take a break at the top if you won’t be able to get those reps in otherwise. But if possible, grit your teeth until the end without stopping. You’ll be rewarded with a thigh-splitting pump.
- Recommended sets and reps: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
The best part?
You don’t need much weight to feel this movement. The constant tension on the working muscles leads to a massive quad and glute burn even despite relatively low external resistance.