Shane Reis is a ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) Certified Personal Trainer in Quincy, IL. Areas he likes to focus on in personal training are often areas novice gym goers may miss or overlook. Shane calls these areas “lagging body parts”. Shane thought this information would be valuable for all our readers. Shane has competed and placed respectively in two bodybuilding competitions and in one power lifting competition. He has had a love for training and nutrition for over 15 years and loves passing this his knowledge and experience onto clients and friends.
Shane was kind enough to supply our readers with some of his knowledge and training techniques along with videos off all the movements except the last technique. We encourage anyone who would like to share with us any material related to a healthy lifestyle, training, diets, recipe tips ect.
I hope you find this information as informative as I did.
The first movement I’d like to discuss is known as “sumo” leg presses. This is a very good movement for the hamstrings and quadriceps. I like to do this movement right before quads for a couple reasons. The first reason being this movement gets my hamstrings nice and warmed up for my upcoming quad blast.hamstrings before quads because after I am finished with my quads, I am finished with my workout. A lot of people split up their quad and hamstring training, which is fine. However, I love the feel of blood being in my entire leg (s). As stated, I feel like it’s a good “warm-up” for quads. Another reason is the weight used by most people is fairly heavy to extremely heavy, which gives your hamstrings no excuse but to grow. This movement is very similar to a regular leg press but differs due to feet placement. Feet placement on sumo leg presses is very high. If you’re short like me (5’6”) you might need someone to help unrack/rack the weight. After getting your feet set and getting the weight unracked, lower the weight until your knees hit your chest (in a controlled manner). If you cannot get down that far, get as close as you can. After lowering the weight, explode back up, ending the rep just short of lockout. I do not like to lockout any movement due to it placing a lot of wear and tear on the joints, in this case the knees. By having your feet placed high the weight and resistance will shift to the hamstrings more so than the quads (but you will get quad stimulation as well). Keep the repetitions fairly high on these, somewhere in the 15-20 rep range. As stated, you will get quadriceps stimulation, but with your feet being placed higher your hamstrings and glutes will take a good chunk of the work.
The next movement worth trying is a single leg press. This exercise stimulates each leg separately (obviously). I actually prefer these from time to time over regular leg presses due to the feeling of hitting both legs and not allowing one leg overpower another or take the brunt of the weight. Each leg gets a “turn” at pressing the weight up. You can also perform sumo leg presses (single leg) as well for the same purpose. To execute, place one foot on the platform. Foot placement is the same as you would use for conventional leg presses. I prefer keeping my leg in line with my shoulder on that side. If I go out too far or if I am too narrow I feel a pain in my lower back but you can figure out where you’re most comfortable. Lower the weight until your knee touches your chest, or as far down as you can go. Once you get into the fully descended position, press the weight back up, just short of lockout. Main muscles used in this movement are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Keep the repetitions in the 10-15 rep range. I do not see many people doing these but I feel they are missing out due to the strictness of the movement and the isolation it gives each individual leg.
Another movement is known as barbell drag curls. I have seen numerous variations to this movement but I have had the best luck with this one. Grab a barbell with a grip that’s outside shoulder width. Grab the bar as you would a regular barbell curl (but with the wide grip) and curl up, keeping the barbell against your body the entire way up. As you descend, keep the barbell against your body (again) the entire way down. This is kind of difficult at first but it’s a super-strict movement. At no time should you let the bar off of your body. By letting the bar off of your body you are taking tension off of the biceps and basically disrupting the fluent motion of the rep/movement. Keep the bar moving but in a slow manner. The negative portion of this lift I find is a real pain in the ass. This movement does a very good job at isolating the biceps, especially the outer portion. In addition, the forearms get a decent amount of work because of the gripping of the bar (because you want the bar against your body the entire time). Some ask me “why don’t you just do barbell curls?” Well, for two reasons. One, it’s a good change of pace from an old standby movement such as barbell curls. The second reason being the challenge of the movement itself. Yes, this movement will tax your biceps but in a different way (as stated earlier, the outside of the bicep gets a good chunk of the work). Due to the strictness of the movement, there is virtually no cheating involved. Repetitions are usually 8-12 as I focus on strict form the entire time.
Hammer curls are a great movement for your biceps and forearms. Another form of a hammer curl, known as a pinwheel curl, does an excellent job of isolating the brachialis muscle and forearm while hitting the biceps as a whole in the process. As far as how to perform them, grip the dumbbell the same way as traditional hammer curls. Instead of curling straight up and down, you tuck your elbow into your side and curl across your body. I raise the dumbbell until it is even w/ my opposite pectoral. I always use wrist straps on my final set. Some people might ask why. By using the wrist straps, I can focus on getting the weight up and not having to also worry about my grip giving out. Your arms will benefit even if you use straps due to the exercise motion and weight. I have been known to use a little “body English” on my last rep or two, which IMO is fine. Do not go overboard and God forbid throw your lower back out. Cheat within reason and help get that last rep or two up. Go as heavy as you can with these while using good form. Repetitions in the 8-12 rep range would be adequate for this movement.
Times New Roman;”>Step-ups are a movement that are known but not used a lot. More people tend to use lunges than these, but I like to incorporate both. I feel this movement throughout my legs and actually get a great cardio workout at the same time (which is why I place them last in my leg routine). Step-ups do a great job of hitting the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and even the calves (to a lesser degree). A lot of people like using a barbell and placing it on their shoulders, which is fine. I prefer to use dumbbells (out of preference, but use whichever you prefer). The movement is pretty self-explanatory. Step up on a block or a bench and then down. Do not let your leg go higher than a 90-degree angle as you step up. If your step-up makes your leg go higher than 90 degrees it is too high and you’ll be incorporating your hip flexors entirely too much. To execute, alternate each leg/rep but do all the reps on one leg first is fine. Grab a set of semi heavy dumbbells and go until failure, which should 10-15 reps per leg. The quads and hamstrings get an equal amount of work, which is great for an “ending” movement.
Another leg movement that is very basic but seldom used is a dumbbell leg curl. This is a great movement for the hamstring muscles. These curls are done in the same manner as machine leg curls, but are a little tougher and you need a little more focus due to having to keep the weight secured by your feet. The end result is a similar feel (as machine curls) but with free weights. To start, lie down on a bench, have someone place a dumbbell with the plates between your feet, and curl the weight up as you would with a leg curl machine. After reaching the top, lower the weight in a controlled manner until your legs are just short of lockout. After you reach this position, start the ascending portion again and repeat. Form, in my mind, is very crucial on these due to only holding the dumbbell with your feet. Any “loose” form will probably make the dumbbell move around too much and potentially fall out of your feet. You hamstrings will get worked and you’ll even feel the movement a bit in your calves due to holding the dumbbell firmly you’re your feet. Shoot for 10-12 reps on this movement.
The last movement I’d like to discuss is known as rack chin-ups. These are great for giving width to your back. The rack chin-up mimics the conventional chin-up but offers the advantage of being able to add weight in a timelier manner. With rack chin-ups, your feet are on a bench so you are stabilized and cannot sway back and forth as easy. Dante Trudel, who is the founder of the popular DC style of training, introduced this movement and prefers them over regular chin-ups as well. To start, get into either a power rack or a smith machine. Grab a bench and set it leg lengths away from you (in front of you). When you’re in the fully stretched position you should resemble an acute angle just before it is reaches a right angle (see picture below). As you reach the top of your chin-up, you should resemble a right angle (again, see picture). I see some people leaning back as they are going up but this is improper form. You should be straight up and down (or very close to it). Crossing your feet seems to eliminate using your hamstrings on the way up. Muscles worked are the lats with the biceps getting worked as ancillary muscles. Repetitions should be 10-15 reps. Some people rest/pause this movement as well.
The above-mentioned movements can help make training more fun and/or challenging. From time to time training can get a little stale and a new movement can take the staleness out of training. I have always been a believer in the phrase “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” In other words, there are numerous movements out there for virtually every body part. Keeping things simple is not a bad thing, but sometimes you need to “think outside the box” and explore something new.
If you are in need of personal training and/or advice Shane can be reached by cell phone at (217) 617-6535, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow him on Facebook Shane Reis.