There are some underrated moves to complete on leg day for maximum gains!
Leg day has come again, so it is time to leave your sweat and tears on the gym floor and to build that teardrop instead.
Today I am going to take it back to the old school with a couple of compound moves that you don’t really see anymore, and the reason for that could be that it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’, or that people are relying on machines instead.
Whatever the reason may be, you don’t have an excuse anymore.
Why compound movements?
Apart from being more efficient and working more muscle groups simultaneously, a study from 2017 concluded that ‘resistance training programs involving multi joint (compound) exercises appear to be more efficient for improving muscle strength and maximal oxygen consumption than programs involving single joint (isolation) exercises.’
So let’s look at forgotten exercise No. 1.
The Barbell Hack Squat
Many people are so used to using a hack squat machine that they have no idea as to the existence of this move.
Now the primary muscles targeted during this move are the quadriceps, but being a compound movement your hamstrings and glutes will be the secondary muscles involved.
How to do it:
- Set up the bar as you would with a deadlift
- But this time you will be standing in front of the bar, with the bar starting behind your heels
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Then grasp the bar with an overhand grip
- Keep the back straight
- Then lift the bar upwards, while driving your heels into the ground and contracting your quad muscles
- Then slowly squat back down, and return the bar back to the ground
- And repeat
Tip: Ensure not to graze the backs of your legs while doing this move, so if you are a beginner practice first.
Why should I add this?
The deeper your squat gets the better your athletic performance could potentially become, as a study from 2012 looked at the ‘influence of squatting depth on jumping performance’, and it found that ‘deep front and back squats guarantee performance enhancing transfer effects of dynamic maximal strength to dynamic maximal speed strength capacity of hip and knee extensors.
Even though this isn’t a front or back squat it could help improve those particular multi joint moves.
Now let’s look at forgotten exercise No. 2.
The Jefferson Squat
Now this is a move you may not have seen in your gym, but Kai Greene brought it back into prominence some years ago, and if Kai Greene uses this to help build his wheels, then why wouldn’t you add it into your routine?
Now another name for this lift is the straddle deadlift, as even squat is in the title it is performed in a deadlift fashion.
This is a quad dominant exercise but it will also target your adductors, glutes and hamstrings also.
What is the Jefferson Deadlift?
Essentially it is the same exercise, as you use the same stance, same grip, everything is the same except that the main difference between the two movements is the shape of your back and the joints being flexed.
As during the jefferson squat you keep your spine erect and back straight, as you want the emphasis to be on the knee flexion, during the jefferson deadlift you will lean slightly forward as the emphasis will be on hip flexion.
It may take some practice and some mind to muscle connection to differentiate between the two moves.
How to do it:
- As mentioned before you will be straddling the bar using a split stance
- Front foot will be facing out, with the facing away from you (so you will be in a right angle position, or L shape)
- Squat down to pick up the barbell with the front hand using an underhand grip, and the backhand using an overhand grip
- Keep the core tight
- Then stand up and really emphasis the push through the heels and really pushing the knees out, do not allow the knees to cave in (pronate)
- To ensure good depth, use smaller plates, and lighter weights to ensure immaculate form
- The slowly come down back to the starting position
- And repeat accordingly
Tip: If doing the jefferson squat ensure you do not round your back and be sure to keep the back foot on the floor at all times.
Why should I add this?
Although it looks awkward to set up, and yes it really can be, it is a great variant for anyone who cannot back squat and a study from 2015 ‘indicated that the deadlift exercise may be effective in decreasing pain intensity and increasing activity for most patients with a dominating pattern of mechanical low back pain.’
Yes I realise I am not talking about the jefferson deadlift variation but with the set up being the same, even though the deadlift technique is not mentioned by name in the study it should be applicable to the jefferson squat also.
There you have it, you now have two new badass compound moves you can add to your leg day armoury.
So until next time, keep pumping!