I love this workout because it hits my entire lower body—quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even the adductors! And, although you're not going to directly train your calves, you'll get a lot of indirect calf action doing awesome exercises like squats, walking lunges, and step-ups. It's the perfect workout for those who don't want to spend all day in the gym but expect great results from their hard effort while they're there.
Ready for a fun, intense, and effective leg workout? Of course you are! Lace up your shoes and throw on your sports bra. Let's go lift!
Legs Like Jessie's: Hilgenberg's 7-Move Workout
Watch the video - 11:59
Before you run into the gym and start your warm-up, read these exercise tips. They'll help you make every single rep an effective one.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting results from squats is having weak glutes and/or tight hip flexors, so I always do a lot of hip mobility before I start my squats. Take the time to go through the fire hydrant stretch and the hip-flexor stretch. They'll make a big difference once you get under that barbell.
Before you start adding weight, do a couple sets of 10 using just the barbell. Between those sets, do about 10 jump squats to prepare your nervous system, lubricate your joints, and elevate your heart rate. When you're done with the first two warm-up sets, add a little more weight—I like to add a 10-pound plate to each side—for another 2 sets of 10 reps.
Once you're ready for your working sets, select a load that will allow you to get to 3 sets of 10 reps with perfect form. The bar shouldn't be right on top of your shoulders, but rather resting on your upper traps. When you step back, position your feet between hip and shoulder width, toes pointed straight ahead. Activate your core by inhaling deeply. Put a slight arch in your lower back, then start the squat by moving your butt back. Your knees should stay straight over your toes and not cave inward.
Look straight ahead and go down far enough to activate your glutes. Press out of your heels.
I use the leg press to focus on my quads. To do this, load a weight that's a little lighter than usual. Sit on the machine and bring your heels down so they're off the platform. The balls of your feet should remain on the platform. Keep your heels close together, toes pointed out. As you lower the sled, keep your knees pointed out where your toes are. The weight should be on the balls of your feet.
To get the most out of this exercise, use a slow tempo. Bring the weight down with a 3-count, pause for 2 seconds at the bottom of the movement, and then take 3 seconds to push the weight back up.
I don't usually have a spotter when I train, so I like to set the rack to the same height as the bench. That way, I can rack and rerack the barbell without much trouble. Make sure the barbell lies right across your hips.
Barbell hip thrust
The back of your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, and your heels should be close together, toes pointed out. Your knees should not cave in. Bring the weight down slowly, and as you lift, squeeze your glutes.
When you do these, take your time. Don't hurry or use momentum. Collect yourself between each step by pausing.
Don't step too far forward. A shallow step allows you to use the heel of the front leg to drive up so you can hit your glutes and hamstrings with more oomph.
I like using the sumo stance because it allows me to just slightly shift the focus to my adductors, which is the inner thigh.
The trick with Romanian deadlifts is to tilt the hips back and move that butt backward. Don't get stuck just bending over. Push your hips back, then pull them forward.
I prefer to do the split squats in a Smith machine because I feel more secure.
Because you're only doing the work on one leg, it's imperative to keep that front knee right above your ankle. Don't let it track in. Keep the weight in your heel as you drive up.
Pick a box or a bench that's about knee-height. If it's too short, you won't get the depth or range of motion necessary for this exercise. The weight should be heavy enough to be difficult, but not so heavy you can't control your balance.
As you step up, drive with your heel. When you reach the top, stop briefly. I do all reps on one leg before switching to the other one.