Never skip leg day, even if you have crabby knees or a tricky lower back. Just use these eight pain-free exercises for hypertrophy.
Nagging knee and back problems can halt your progress and sap motivation. But you can still train your legs by using ranges of motion that allow you to load the muscles while avoiding pain. Here are eight exercises that’ll build your legs even when working around a cranky knee or a tricky back.
The usual good morning locations a variety of shear power via your lumbar area. That doesn’t make it a “unhealthy” train, simply not the most suitable choice in the event you and your again don’t get alongside typically. Strive the “good-thrust” as a substitute. Yep, it’s half hip thrust and half good morning. For those who don’t assume it seems like morning, simply flip the train vertically and look once more.
The long-lever place of the hip thrust makes it more durable with gentle weight and shifts extra emphasis towards your hamstrings. Your glutes and lumber extensors get exercise too. If you wish to additional emphasize your complete posterior chain, you’ll be able to press your toes down into the sting of the bench.
In comparison with a typical good morning, the load is positioned extra horizontally. The best problem is on the high of the thrust as your hips lengthen.
Throughout morning, the toughest half is if you’re bending over absolutely. There’s little or no problem on the high. Throughout a good-thrust, the toughest half is when your hips are absolutely prolonged. As your hips decrease again in the direction of the ground, your hamstrings get loaded stretch as properly.
When gear is missing and your again’s providing you with some grief, it is a good various to good mornings and even again extensions. Add some weight throughout your hips to make them more durable.
Use these for back-friendly deadlifting.
If you want to avoid a bad back, consider torque at the hip. Torque is the result of force (weight) times distance (moment arm length). To reduce torque at the hip, you must either reduce force by lifting a lighter weight or reduce the distance from the joint.
If you’ve ever wondered why your back feels better deadlifting with a trap bar, it’s because the design of the bar allows you to keep the load close to your hips.
Kickstand Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) require far less weight and equipment. They also allow you to develop single-leg strength and stability through your hips. They’re somewhere in between a single-leg and regular RDL. That means they get your hips working harder without needing a ton of weight. They’re also relatively meathead-friendly since they don’t require as much balance as full single-leg exercises.
Kickstand RDLs are often done incorrectly. The kickstand refers to the back foot position, which isn’t there to help. It’s merely there to provide an extra point of contact with the floor and light support. Placing weight through your back foot during a kickstand deadlift is like bouncing off the floor when you’re doing step-ups. Not cool.
Make a conscious effort to place minimal weight on your back foot. Alternatively, you can modify your kickstand positions using either a low split-squat stand or by placing a foam roller on the floor. Hooking your foot over something gives you a point of contact and a little stability, but it’s a lot harder to cheat the movement. Try these with a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Use these for research-proven quad growth.
This move produces a significant increase in the muscle fascicle length, muscle thickness, pennation angle, and cross-sectional area in the quads (1). This joint-friendly exercise allows you to train your quads through a much deeper range of knee flexion than usual.
The key is the controlled three-second lowering (eccentric) component, which places a massive emphasis on the quads with time under tension. This will help with both growth and strength. It also promotes durability in both knee tendons.
If you’re a beginner, use only body weight. Once you’re ready to advance, add load by holding a dumbbell on your chest with both hands.
Use these for a knee-friendly quad pump.
Use a slant board or heel wedges if in case you have entry to them. If not, you’ll be able to simply mimic the slant board situation by propping your heels up on a thick textbook, the underside step of a staircase, or on a few rolled-up towels.
Utilizing extra time underneath stress is what retains the quads working all through the period of every set. Finally, this helps promote muscle progress, and it’ll additionally provide you with pump.
Use a strict and managed tempo throughout every rep with a 5-second reducing (eccentric) part and a 5-second elevating (concentric) part. Intention to get the underside of your thighs as near your calves as doable for max profit.
Use these for back-friendly hamstring and booty-building.
If back pain is a problem with most deadlifting variations, then the pull-through will be one of your best alternatives. Do it with a cable machine or by holding a band, as shown in the video. It’s a great option for learning how to move your hips correctly while keeping your spine stable.
Having one band between your legs and an NT Loop round your hips is a surefire option to get heavy sufficient loading whereas being comfy. That’s, in the event you discover “consolation” in lighting your bottom on hearth.
Use these for healthy knees and pumped-up quads.
Walking backward while pulling or pushing against a weighted sled is a great quad exercise. No sled? Opt for this variation. All you’ll need is a heavy band.
Loop that band round your waist and anchor it to a sturdy object. The objective is to imitate the leg motion you’d use throughout a reverse sled drag. The bottom line is to straighten your leg by squeezing your quads throughout every step.
You’ll construct your quads whereas lowering anterior knee ache. The fixed terminal knee extension motion brings blood move to the realm, offers for an awesome leg pump, and promotes patella tendon well being.
Use these for single-leg strength and hamstring hammering.
This exercise allows you to build functional strength and size without looking like you’re in the circus. It’s also extremely humbling. A little weight goes a long way.
Find an ideal depth and place something on the floor to limit yourself from going beyond it. A low box, a few plates, or even a bottom step might work.
As you lower into your single-leg deadlift, the step is there to stop you from moving further down the way you normally would with an RDL. The weight in your hand is allowed to partially rest for a two-count while you maintain tension.
The dead stop forces you to overcome the inertia of the dead weight (dumbbell or kettlebell). Inhibiting the stretch-reflex mechanisms will force your muscles to work harder to lift the weight. Isometrically loading your muscles in this stretched position will also create a lot of mechanical tension and muscle damage. You’ll know about that the next day!
Since you have an extra point of contact with the floor through the weight, these are also more stable than single-leg RDLs. You’ll develop unilateral strength, plus hip and knee stability. Be sure to work within a pain-free and active range of motion for your hamstrings. You can always work closer to the floor over time. If balance is still an issue, place your free hand on a wall to help.
Use these for building quads. They may also help you build up to doing full sissy squats.
Time under tension is pivotal here since you’ll want to do this exercise in a slow and controlled fashion. Use a stack of Airex pads or an object 6-12 inches high. Stand in front, lower your knees down to the object, then stand back up. If you’re feeling really sadistic, you can combine this with a resistance band looped behind your knees, loading you into terminal knee extension.
Sissy squats go against everything you’ve ever heard about not allowing your knees to go over your toes. That’s a fallacy, and it’s also exactly why this exercise works. Allowing your knees to go over your toes and into greater flexion is what places stress on the quads and associated knee tendon structures. This stress is what promotes muscle growth. It also promotes tendon durability.
- Alonso-Fernandez D et al. Changes in rectus femoris architecture induced by the reverse nordic hamstring exercises. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2019 Apr;59(4):640-647. PubMed.
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