Strength and Resistance Training: 3 lower body exercises for every body
G’day mate from the Gold Coast in Australia. I’m here with the USA National Team preparing for the first tournament in the 2011/2012 IRB 7s World Series. We had a team gym session the other day at a local health club which prompted me to write about strength and resistance training that you rarely see in commercial gyms these days.
If you clicked on this link looking to find some “cutting edge exercise” where you stand on a bosu ball with one foot and curl pink 5lb dumbbells then you’re in the wrong place. The strength and resistance training exercises I’m talking about have stood the test of time and proven to be the most effective at eliciting certain physiological adaptions. That being said, here are 3 exercises that may change your life. Drumroll please……..Box squat, glute ham raise, and sumo deadlift.
What’s Great About These Strength and Resistance Training Exercises?
So what’s so great about these exercises? Research has shown that performing heavy squats and deadlifts (85-95% of 1RM) produce an acute increase in testosterone production in men. Another benefit from these exercises are the improvement in neuromuscular efficiency by increasing motor unit recruitment, firing rate, and synchronization. Research has also shown that structural exercises such as the squat and deadlift which require skeletal support are the most effective in increasing bone mineral density. So for those of you who were thinking the leg press was just as good as the squat think again.
Below is a brief description for each of the strength and resistance training exercises.
Often called the king of all exercises, the box squat is the best way to train the squat. The box forces you to get your hips back and also sets you at the appropriate depth. You can use a box squat, plyo box, or bench. Ideally when seated on the box the top of your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Here are 5 cues to remember when box squatting. Keep the upper back tight and elbows pointing towards the floor. The hips initiate the movement not the knees. Keep the lower back arched. Eyes straight ahead or slightly up. Do not bounce or tap on the box, pause for a second keeping the whole body tight and then stand up.
Glute ham raise
Arguably the greatest posterior chain exercise. This can be performed in a glute ham raise machine, with a partner, or with the feet secured in a fixed position. A few cues for this exercise are to maintain a straight line from the knee to the shoulder. Use primarily the hamstrings to lower and raise your body.
A variation of the conventional deadlift which decreases the amount of strain on the lower back. Feet should be wider than shoulder width and angled out around 45 degrees. Upper back will be rounded with the lower back arched. Inhale through the belly, keep your shoulders behind the bar and pull back.
Whatever your fitness goals may be, these strength and resistance training exercises should be the “meat and potatoes” of your lower body training days. Feel free to comment or email me with any questions.
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Mike Palefau MS, CSCS
• Fitness Coach at Premier Fitness Camp
• Worked with many different types of individuals ranging from pro athletes (NFL, MMA, and International Rugby) to sedentary individuals.
• BS in P.E./Human Performance
• MS in Sports Conditioning
• Played football and ran track at Southern Utah University
• Played Rugby professionally in Europe as well the USA National team