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Lower Body Power and Strength

This advanced lower body power and strength workout focuses on building both power and strength with traditional and unique exercises for the glutes, hips, thighs and calves.  The workout includes power moves involving kettlebells (although you can always substitute a dumbbell if you don't have a kettlebell).  These moves are optional and you should familiarize yourself with the basics of kettlebell training and how to get started with kettlebell training before trying these exercises.  If you're not familiar with kettlebell training, skip these exercises or try them with no weight to get your form down.  The power moves are designed to involve your entire body followed by weight training moves to focus on strength. This workout will take approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on your sets, reps and rest periods.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed
A barbell, various weighted dumbbells and/or kettlebells, an exercise ball and a step or platform.

How To

  • Warm up with at least 5-10 minutes of cardio
  • Complete the four exercises listed in each series, one after the other, resting when you need to
  • Repeat each series once for a lighter workout, or 2-3 times for a more intense workout
  • To modify, use lighter weights, do fewer reps or do only two of the exercises in each series
  • Skip any exercise that causes pain or discomfort

1.  Kettlebell Swing to Overhead (Optional)

Hold a heavy ketllebell in both hands with legs hip-width apart. Begin with some warm up swings to get a feel for the weight and the movement. Start by squatting and taking the weight between the legs (arms should touch the inner thighs). Keep the torso upright and the abs braced.  At the bottom of the movement shift your weight back and thrust up through the hips to bring the weight up to about hip level.  Practice a few swings to shoulder level and if you feel comfortable, swing the weight all the way up over the head and hold briefly, drawing the shoulders down and keeping a firm grip on the weight.  Bring the weight back down and repeat for 12 reps.
2. Barbell Squat  
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Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a heavy barbell on the shoulders.  Lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes and abs engaged.  Complete 8 slow, controlled reps - 4 counts down and 4 counts up, followed by 8 reps pulsing halfway up.

3.  Plie Squat
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Stand with feet wide, toes out at an angle and hold heavy weights on the upper thighs.  Keeping knees in line with your toes, lower into a squat, focusing on the inner thighs.  Complete 8 slow, controlled reps - 4 counts down and 4 counts up, followed by 8 reps pulsing halfway up.

4.  One-Legged Squat
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With a ball supporting the back, lean against it and lift one foot off the floor (or keep the toe resting lightly on the floor) and lower into a one-legged squat, just a few inches down.  Push through the heel to come up and repeat for 10 reps and switch legs.  Use medium weights for this exercise.
Repeat 1-2 times
1.  Kettlebell Lateral Swing (Optional)

Hold a heavy ketllebell in both hands with legs hip-width apart and practice a few swings to get a feel for the weight and the movement. Begin by stepping to the left into a squat, swinging the weight between the legs (arms should touch the inner thighs). At the bottom of the movement shift your weight back and thrust up through the hips to bring the weight up to about shoulder level as you step the right foot next to the left.  Step to the left again as you squat, swinging the weight between the legs.  Thrust through the hips as you come up, stepping the right foot in and swinging the weight all the way up over the head (or to shoulder level, if that's more comfortable).  Bring the weight down and take the lateral squats and kettlebell swings to the right for a total of 8 laps.
2.  Barbell Deadlift
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Hold a heavy barbell in front of the thighs, knees slightly bent. Keeping abs in and shoulders back, tip from the hips and lower the weight towards the floor, stopping when you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Squeeze the glutes to stand back up, repeating for 12 reps.
3.  One-Legged Deadlift
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 Stand holding a heavy dumbbell in both hands.  Keeping the shoulders back, abs in and the back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weight towards the floor as you lift the back leg up (toe pointing down) until it's parallel to the floor.  Stand up as you lower the left leg and repeat for 10 reps before switching sides.
4.  Lunge Deadlift

Get into a lunge position with the back foot resting on a step or platform holding medium weights. Make sure the front leg is far enough forward that the knee stays behind the toe as you lunge. Bend the knees into a lunge while simultaneously lowering the torso towards the thigh and bringing the weights towards the floor. Keeping the torso down, straighten the front knee into a deadlift.  Bend the knee and push back to start, repeating for 10 reps before switching sides.
Repeat 1-2 times
1. Lunge Sweep
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Begin with feet wider than the hips, kettlebell or weight in the right hand. Pivot and turn the body to the right and lower into a lunge. As you push back up, swing the weight up and over the head as you pivot back to the front. Switch hands and pivot to the left, lowering into a lunge and taking the weight down beside the lunging knee. Continue alternating sides while swinging the weight up and over (if you're advanced, you can toss the weight to the other hand at the top of the motion) for 12 reps (1 rep includes lunging to the right and left).
2.  Static Lunge with Barbell

Place a medium-heavy barbell on the shoulders and take the right foot forward, left foot back. Bend the knees into a slow lunge, 4 counts down and 4 counts up.  Repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.
3.  One-Leg Lunge with Reach

Place the left foot/shin on the ball and hold a medium weight in your right hand. Bend the right knee into a lunge as you roll the ball back your left leg. At the same time, reach the right hand out, keeping the abs engaged. Squeeze the right leg to roll the ball back to starting position. Repeat for 12 reps and switch sides.
4.  Low Lunge

Stand in a split stance with feet close together.  Hold medium weights and bend the knees, taking the weight towards the floor.  Keeping the abs engaged and the shoulders back, push into the front heel and lift halfway up. Lower down and repeat, only coming up a few inches for each rep.  Complete 10 reps on each side.
Repeat 1-2 times
1.  One Arm Swing to Kettlebell Clean (Optional)
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Begin holding a light-medium kettlebell in the right hand, feet about hip-distance apart.  Begin a warm up swing to get used to the movement, squatting as you take the weight down and back between the legs and thrusting the hips up as you lightly swing the weight to about hip level. Take the left arm out to the side for balance. Once you get comfortable with the movement, swing the weight to shoulder level, always using the hip-thrust movement to get the weight up. Squat back down and then thrust the hips up, pulling the kettlebell straight up and rotating the elbow down, catching the weight at shoulder height.  Absorb the weight of the kettlebell and the movement by squatting slightly, keeping the wrist neutral.  Continue alternating a one arm swing with a clean for 10 reps before switching sides.
2.  Bent-Over Leg Lift

Bend over with hands behind the back, abs engaged.  Take the left leg out to the side, toe on the floor and bend the right knee into a squat.  Straighten the right leg as you lift the left leg a few inches off the floor.  Keep the hip, knee and foot in alignment and facing the front of the room. Repeat for 10 reps and switch sides.
3.  Side Squat with Inner Thigh Lift

Secure one end of a band to a sturdy object near the floor and loop the other end around the right foot.  Step far enough away that there's light tension on the band.  Step out with the left leg into a side squat.  Keeping the weight in the left leg, stand up and bring the right foot in from of the body, leg turned out, focusing on the inner thigh.  Continue with the squat and leg lift for 10 reps before switching sides.
4. Hamstring Roll with Leg Lift

Prop the heels on the ball with legs straight, hips lifted.  Roll the ball in, squeezing the hamstrings.  Roll the ball out and, keeping the hips lifted, take the right foot off the ball a few inches.  Lower the foot, do another hamstring roll and then lift the left leg off the ball.  Continue, alternating leg lifts for 8 reps total.
Repeat 1-2 times
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