Amy Updike's latest workout is all about shaping and leaning out your legs, with a focus on the back of your legs. From her years of experience as an IFBB Bikini pro, this NLA for Her-sponsored athlete has created an intense workout that will hit your glutes hard, but also give you a chance to develop that one often-overlooked part of the physique: your calves!
Place a resistance band around your knees for this first exercise. As you move, you'll be in about a half squat with your spine neutral—neither rounded nor arched. Keeping your chest up, take small steps side to side. Focus on maintaining tension in your glutes.
Barbell Hip Thrust
Keep the resistance band around your knees, and focus on keeping your knees out. Don't let them cave in! Thrust the barbell all the way up with your hips, and give your glutes a good squeeze at the top of every rep. To get the most from this exercise, Updike holds the last rep of every set at the top of the movement while squeezing her glutes. Focusing attention on your glutes in this fashion strengthens your mind-muscle connection.
Start your first set using a heavy weight, then taper off for your next 3 sets. Do more work on the mind-muscle connection by paying close attention to your hamstrings as you slowly lower the weight. More time under tension leads to more gains! Updike says that if one of your goals is to build muscle size, make the last set a dropset: Do all the reps you can just short of failure, then drop some of the weight and rep to just short of failure again.
Sumo-Stance Straight-Legged Deadlift
This exercise will get you thinking about your hamstrings and your glutes at the same time. Focus on keeping a slight bend in your knees, your core tight, and your back straight.
The wide-stance version will target your inner thighs. The narrow-stance version will hit your outer thighs and the back of your hamstrings. Go after this superset with intensity. Push yourself!
This is a great exercise to do near the end of a workout, to really burn out those leg muscles. But leave a little in the tank—you're not done yet!
This is the last glute/hamstring exercise in the workout, so finish hard. Let the kettlebell swing down between your legs, then thrust up hard with your hips at the top of each rep. Take the last set to failure to finish off your legs.
Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward. As you work through the reps, experiment with pointing your toes in and out to see how each position hits a different part of your calves. This is one of Updike's favorite exercises because she finds that many women are so focused on working their booty-building glutes that they forget to work their calves. The calf press is a good way to help maintain a balanced look in your legs.
If your goal is to maintain overall balance, Updike recommends you do this workout once a week. If you want to focus on developing the shape of your lower body, do the workout twice a week!