How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift. This includes step by step instructions. Also what are the benefits of this exercise.
This is a variation of the Romanian Deadlift exercise, using dumbbells rather than the standard barbell.
Primary muscles targeted – Hamstrings and lower back.
Secondary muscles – Glutes and calves.
Equipment needed – Dumbbells.
Exercise type – Compound exercise.
For more leg and back exercises you can see the categories section to the right.
The Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift is a variation of the standard Romanian deadlift which is performed with a barbell. Why use this version over the standard Romanian deadlift? because exercise and workout variety helps with workout and muscle stimulation. Some people may find using dumbbells more comfortable than using a barbell as it offers more freedom of movement. Or maybe you simply only own a pair of dumbbells therefore you have no choice but to do this version.
This exercise will help to build and strengthen your hamstrings and lower back for a more stable core helping to prevent injuries. With it being a compound exercise it also offers good fat burning benefits, compound exercises require more energy to perform and also to recover from than isolation exercises, this extra energy will burn more calories and fat.
How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift
Pick up the dumbbells and stand up straight, hold the dumbbell in front of you in a horizontal position.
Keep your chest up and back straight ideally keep your back arched and your knees slightly bent.
Now slowly lower the dumbbells until your back is almost parallel with the floor, or as far as you comfortably can. (You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings)
Now in a controlled fashion using your hips return to the upright position, repeat for your desired reps.
Use a light weight until you have comfortable with the technique.
If you have back problems consult with your doctor for advice on whether you should attempt this exercise.
Performing the normal Romanian deadlift is better for muscle and mass building as it’s easier to perform with a barbell using heavier weights.
How to do Hack Squats and what are the benefits of this exercise. The hack squat is a variation of the common and popular squat exercise.
I will include detailed information on the hack squat, how to perform instructions, tips and a video showing the correct technique for performing the exercise.
Primary – Quadriceps (Thighs) Glutes (Buttocks).
Secondary – Lower back, hamstrings, calves and traps.
Exercise equipment – all you need is a barbell.
Exercise variations are good for a few reasons, they slightly change the focus of the exercise when it comes to targeting those muscles and variety is known to be good for triggering muscle development. Another good reason to use exercise variations is simply to prevent boredom, this helps with motivation and keeping things fresh.
Benefits of performing hack squats
The hack squat is great for targeting those thighs and glutes, strengthening them and building muscle mass. It’s a compound exercise targeting many different muscles therefore benefiting those muscles also. It will improve your core strength and fitness. The hack squat has calorie and fat burning potential due to the effort and energy required to perform this compound exercise.
Despite this exercise being referred to as a squat, it looks very similar to a deadlift, giving similar benefits.
How to Perform Hack Squats
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, the barbell should be behind your feet.
With your toes pointing out slightly, feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Squat down and place both hands on the barbell with your palms facing away from you.
Slowly using your legs stand up straight, hold for a moment and then lower the barbell to the floor in a controlled fashion.
Simply repeat for the number of reps you have planned.
The hack squat offers a nice change to the more common leg exercises, helping to break up that repetition and help to make those leg workouts more interesting.
All these targeted muscles make this a compound exercise. Compound exercises should always be the main focus and priority of your workouts.
The only piece of equipment required to perform this exercise is a barbell.
Jefferson Squats Benefits
Core strength improvements
Lower body development
Increased fat burning potential
Great benefits to your thigh/quads and glutes/buttocks
There are many exercises that have variations to them, the Jefferson Squat is one of the least common, even the majority of experienced weight lifters have never heard of it. While the basic movement of this variation is very similar, the main difference is in the position that you hold the barbell.
Technique to perform this exercise
Stand over the barbell so it’s between your legs, have your toes pointing out at a 90 degree angle, one foot pointing forwards and the other foot pointing out to the side.
Grab the bar with an alternating grip, one hand placed in front of you and the other hand holding the bar behind you, legs bent in a squat position.
Now keep your back straight with an even grip and slowly lift the barbell with your legs, making sure to balance the barbell evenly between your hands.
When standing upright hold for a second and then slowly squat down until the barbell touches the floor or nearly touches the floor (thighs parallel with the floor) and then repeat the movement for the desired reps.
Always use slow and controlled movements.
Keep your back straight and as upright as possible.
Hold the barbell with an even well balanced grip.
Keep your feet flat on the floor during the exercise, always maintain your balance.
The lower you squat the better the results will be, use smaller weight plates so you can squat down further.
How to do the lunge exercise including variations of the exercise for example the standing, walking and the side lunge to name a few.
Benefits of performing lunges
The lunge is one of the best and most effective exercises that you can perform for your thighs and glutes. Benefits include muscle development of the thighs and buttocks. Good for burning calories therefore helping to improve muscle tone by helping to reduce body fat.
The lunge can be a difficult exercise to master, however if you get the technique right it’s a fantastic exercise that can be performed with or without exercise equipment. Plus it can also be performed on just about any flat service.
Equipment that can be used to aid the performance
Muscles Targeted by the lunge
Primary – Glutes (Buttocks) – Quadriceps (Thighs)
Secondary – Hamstrings
How to perform the lunge
(Keep your movements slow and controlled)
Stand with your feet together and keep your head up and your shoulders back. Place your hands on your hips, or if you are holding dumbbells or kettlebells keep them at the side of you.
Lunge forward with your first leg and lower yourself in a down motion. Your front leg should be bent at about a 90 degree angle and your thigh should be parallel with the ground (don’t allow your front knee to go past your toes) your back knee should be nearly touching the ground, your back leg should also be bent at a 90 degree angle. Keep your body as controlled as possible.
Use your front leg to push yourself back up, push off with your front heel (push with a up motion not back motion) and then step back until you’re standing straight up with your feet together, then repeat with your other leg.
Standing lunge – with this version you would lunge forward like in a normal lunge and get in that same position. While in that lowered position you would lift yourself up using your front leg until it’s straight, however you wouldn’t bring your feet together you would keep them at the same distance and straighten both legs and then repeat.
Walking lunge – perform a normal lunge, bring your feet together and lunge forward again with your other leg, so you are continuing in a forward walking motion.
Rotational lunge – Perform a normal lunge and while you’re in a lowered position you rotate your body in the direction of your front leg until your feel the side of your stomach (oblique’s) stretching, hold for a short moment and then rotate so you’re facing forward again, and repeat with your other leg and rotating in the direction of that leg.
Side lunge – instead of lunging forward you simply lunge out to the side, keep your body weight on your lunging legs heel, and your other leg straight, push yourself back up using the heel of your lunging leg.
Master the technique using your body weight only before attempting this exercise, especially if you have never performed the lunge before, later you can add weight resistance once the exercise becomes easier.
I have already mentioned this however it’s very important not to let the knee on your forward leg go beyond your toes as it can put a great deal of pressure on that forward knee.
Think of the movement as a up and down movement rather than a back a forth movement.
How to perform the Deadlift exercise and what are the benefits of performing this exercise.
The Deadlift is a compound exercise which is great for strengthening many major core muscles and it’s considered to be one of the best exercises for overall muscle and strength development.
Equipment that can be used to perform the Deadlift
The deadlift is considered by many people to be the ultimate strength and mass building compound exercise. The deadlift targets the muscles in your back including the lower back and the latissimus dorsi (upper back), also the glutes, quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings and trapezius which are the main focus points, however it works many more different muscles across the body. Perform this exercise and you will benefit from a strengthened core which is the foundation for any strong balanced physique.
The deadlift should be a primary exercise for most, as well as other great exercises such as Squats, Benchpress and compound pulling exercises.
Romanian deadlift – much like the stiff leg deadlift except you bend your knees slightly.
Sumo deadlift – legs/feet wider than shoulder width, how wide depends on your flexibility.
Stiff leg deadlift – this version targets your hamstrings the most.
Clean deadlift/Snatch deadlift – mainly used for power lifting.
Using poor technique especially with heavy weights can lead to injuries of the back and possibly knees. Always be careful and seek advice from qualified instructors.
How to perform the deadlift
Muscles worked – Thighs/Quadriceps – Hamstrings – Lower back – Trapezius – Latissimus dorsi – gluteus maximus – increases hand grip strength.
Technique (Recommend using a weight support belt)
Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees and grab the bar with an alternating grip. (using an alternating grip, one hand facing in and the other facing out, this helps to make the exercise more comfortable, especially lifting heavy weights)
Keep your back straight and your legs in a squatting position, your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees, with your thighs parallel or almost parallel.
Lift the bar using your legs (keep your back straight) raise yourself and lift until your body is straight, hips forward and shoulders back, hold for short moment.
Lower back down using your legs, keeping your back straight, return the barbell to the floor and repeat.
Stiff Leg Deadlift
The stiff leg deadlift is a common variation of the deadlift and it’s an exercise that I regularly perform. It’s very good for working the lower back and hamstrings, similar to the deadlift except you keep your legs in a straightened and fixed position.
Muscles worked – lower back – hamstrings
With your legs bent grab the barbell with a normal grip, palms facing inward, hands about shoulder width apart.
Lift up the bar with your legs, stand up straight holding the barbell.
Keep your back and your legs straight, now slowly lower the barbell as far as you comfortably can and hold for a brief moment, now slowly straighten back up keeping your back straight and then repeat.
Make sure you start out with a very light and comfortable weight.
How to do the calf raises exercise and what are its benefits. It’s the best isolation exercise for your calves that you can do, you can perform it in the gym or at home with or without added weight resistance or gym equipment.
Calf raises are great for building muscle and strengthening your calves, particularly the two main muscles which make up your calf, these muscles are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Calf raises is a very direct exercise, it requires a lot of movement in the ankle which perfectly works the calf muscle.
There are many variations to this exercise, they can be performed with expensive gym equipment or performed on any level surface or on a step at home.
Variations of the calf raise
Using a calf raise machine
Both feet together
Seated calf machine
Performing the calf raise exercise
This can be performed on a flat surface like the floor, however performing the exercises like this will restrict your movement as you will not be able to lower your heel past parallel. Performing calf raises using a stair step or raised platform is much more effective.
How to do calf raises on machine
Place both of your feet on the raised platform, with just your toes and the balls of your feet placed on the platform, keep your feet and legs straight and parallel.
Position your shoulders under the shoulder pads and lift using only your legs, keep your back straight as you lift, and then straighten your legs and body.
Now lower yourself slowly using only your feet and ankles, you should start to feel your calf muscles stretch as you lower, hold for a short moment.
Now raise yourself up using only your calves, you should feel the muscle when it’s fully contracted, tense your calves and hold for a moment and then lower and repeat.
Single legged version
This is ideal if the double legged version becomes too easy. It’s almost exactly the same as the above version but this time only train one calf muscle at a time.
Just place one foot behind the other just above the ankle and the lower calf area, using only one leg at a time makes a big difference.
How to do the leg press with the press machine with step by step how to instructions.
Benefits of the leg press
The leg press is a good effective compound exercise for building up and strengthening your legs, including your thighs, hamstrings, calves and also your glutes. The leg press is a high energy requirement exercise making it a good resistance exercise for reducing body fat.
It’s a great exercise for beginners. Your legs are capable of lifting far more than your arms. In order to train your legs effectively you’re going to need a great deal more weight than you would use for you upper body and the leg press is a fantastic exercise for lifting heavy weights relatively safely.
Use caution and never lift more weight than you can comfortably handle. Warm up with a lighter weight first and always use good technique.
Leg press pin machine
The leg press has a very similar leg motion and technique to squatting, for solely training your legs some people argue the leg press is a superior exercise. It is always best to try different exercises for yourself to determine which one works best for you. I have found that Squatting is more effective for targeting your Thigh(quad) muscles, while I find the Leg Press exercise to be more effective for targeting your Glutes, however it depends on the technique and foot placement.
Muscles worked Quadriceps (Thighs) Glutes (Buttocks) Hamstrings Calves.
Leg press machines Press machines can range from horizontal pin machines to angled machines that require weighted plates, there is even a vertical leg press machine.
How to perform the Leg Press/Leg Press Machine
Sit with your back flat on the back rest, don’t curl your back and keep your head back in order to keep your spine straight.
Place your feet flat on the rest plate, feet placed just wider than shoulder width, keep your foot placement high so that when you lower the foot plate your knees don’t go past your toes, this will keep the pressure off your knees.
Push the plate and extend your legs, straighten your legs but keep your knees slightly bent.
Slowly lower the plate until your legs are bent at about 90 degrees,hold for a brief moment and then return to the start position, remember not to lock your knees.
Foot placement variations Narrow foot placement (feet less than should width apart) will train the outside of the thighs, while a wider foot placement will target the central and inner thigh area.
How to perform front (thigh) and rear (hamstring) leg curls exercise using the curl machines. Plus what benefits will you get from these exercises.
While the front Leg Curl is a very good exercise for isolating your thighs, it’s not as effective for overall leg and core muscle development as the Deadlift, Squats or even the Leg Press. I personally use Leg Curls as more of a definition and shape development exercise, an addition to my legs workouts but not a core exercise.
If you suffer from any kind of injury or condition that prevents you from performing compound exercises like the Deadlift or the Squat, then Leg Curls combined with other exercises may be an ideal solution and alternative for you.
Benefits of performing leg curls
The Leg Curl is a good exercise for toning the thigh area, developing a good muscular shape and improving muscle definition in your quadriceps. These exercises really do isolate the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
Pin Cable Leg Extension Machine.
Weight bench with leg extension attachment – These machines are very common in gyms, they are also a common attachment for home gyms and weight benches.
Other good exercises for your thighs
How to do leg curls
Sit on the leg extension machine and adjust the back and leg rest to a comfortable position, the leg rest should be resting on your ankles or the lower shin area.
Position your knees so that they’re in line with the pivot point of the curl machine.
Use the hand grips or bench to keep yourself in a fixed position keeping your body still.
Slowly raise your legs using only your thigh muscles until your legs are straight, while your legs are straight tense your thighs for a brief moment.
Now slowly lower your legs and don’t let the weight drop, keep the resistance on your thighs and then repeat.
The leg curl is one of the best ways to directly work your hamstrings, good for strengthening and improving definition round the back of your legs. The hamstrings are sometimes overlooked, much like the tricep muscle of the arm. It’s important to train the Quadriceps and Hamstrings equally to balance your leg strength and maximize stability, this will also help to prevent injuries in the future.
The Hamstring is the bicep of the leg and it’s responsible for flexion of the knee. The hamstring is made up of three muscles, the bicep femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus.
Leg Curl Variations
Front lying – front lying machines are very common in gyms.
Seated upright – these machine are becoming more popular and a common piece of equipment in many gyms.
Single leg – you can perform this on a front lying hamstring curl machine, or while standing you can use a front leg curl machine.
Other exercises for your hamstrings
Stiff Legged Deadlift
Technique (Seated Upright) Hamstring curls
Adjust the leg rest so that your ankle, lower calf area is resting comfortably on the pad, your knees should be in line with the pivot point of the machine, you can do this by adjusting the back rest.
Keep your legs parallel with each other, feet about one foot apart, and your toes should be pointing up.
Place your hands on the handles or under the seat to keep you seated in a fixed position.
In a slow and controlled fashion using only your hamstrings bend your knees to lower the pad, hold for a moment and then slowly raise the pad to the start position. Try not to let the weights drop to keep the tension on the hamstrings and then repeat.
How to perform squats correctly and safely. The squats is a fantastic compound exercise for building and strengthening your quads and glutes.
The squat exercise is a very popular exercise, many bodybuilders and weight lifters love it with a passion, it’s a preferred leg exercise for many.
The squat is probably the best leg muscle building exercise there is, especially for the quadriceps (thighs).
There are a few different ways to perform the squat, different types of equipment can be used.
Squats can also be performed just using your own body weight, no equipment required. Just using your own body weight is recommended if you have never performed squats before, using no weights will help you to master the technique without the risk of injury or over training your legs.
Equipment for performing the squat exercise
The power rack using a barbell is the most common equipment used by weight lifters.
Correct Squat Technique
Start position – standing up straight, your feet should be around shoulder width apart.
Keep your back straight and lower yourself bending your knees until your thighs are just above parallel with the floor, most of your body weight should be supported by and focused on your heels. During the motion your knees shouldn’t go past your toes.
Slowly push yourself back up using your legs and return to the start position and repeat.
Muscles Worked During the Squat Thighs (Quadriceps) – Buttocks (Gluteus Maximus) – Hamstrings – Lower back. Squatting is a core exercise and it’s considered an important exercise for improving total body strength.
Is there risk of injury from squatting? There is a slight risk with most heavy weight lifting exercises, some believe squats are responsible for injuries to the back and knees. As with most exercises to help prevent injury make sure you master the technique so you can perform it safely before attempting any exercise, especially if it involves heavy weights. Get a gym instructor to show you the correct technique if necessary.
Squat variations – Stance position
Normal – Balanced position works the middle of the thigh.
Wide – Targets the inside of the thigh.
Close – Targets the outside of the thigh.
How low should you go?
Full squat – This is thighs just below parallel with the floor.
Half squat – This is thighs just above parallel – Recommended for beginners.
Parallel squat – Thighs are parallel with the floor in the lower position.
Alternative exercises to squats – If you don’t like squats for what ever reason the following exercises are very good for strengthening your thighs, buttocks and lower back.