Build Strong and Powerful legs at Home

Home workout to build your legs

Who needs weights when you have your own body weight? I’ve been telling this to myself every day since my gym closed. As much as I miss hitting the weights, I’m embracing the challenge of building a strong powerful body with my bodyweight. A lot of my training, specifically for legs have been outdoors.

Sometimes going to a park to train just isn’t feasible. What do I do when I don’t have gym access or the opportunity to train outdoors? I do an awesome home workout that pushes my body to get stronger like these recent chest workouts I’ve shared recently.This post will specifically talk about legs.

Awesome Leg Workout From Home

This is a home workout that I’ve been doing for weeks. I learned about some of the training concepts like the max effort wall squat and the grind squat from the training program, NeuroMass.

1.Jump Squats: Jump squats like other plyometric exercises increase leg power. I recommend doing these in your front or back yard to reduce the stress on your joints. I typically do three sets of five. You can make these more challenging by holding light dumbbells while jumping.

 2. Max Effort Wall Squat: This isn’t your typical wall squat. The difference with these is that you’re pushing your heels to the ground and back to the wall as hard as possible. I normally do three sets of 11 second wall squats. Rest 1.5 minutes in between each set.

3. Power Squat: This is the bodyweight version of CAT squats.  The way I do these is by tensing up my entire body, especially my core and leg muscles. Lower yourself in a controlled manner while maintaining tension and explode up as if you had to move 400 pounds on your back. 4 sets of 15 with 1.5 minutes of rest in between.

4. Grind Squat : These are similar to the power squats except you’ll be moving extremely slow throughout the entire range of movement. I usually only do six reps of these because they are tough! Do 2 sets of 6 with 1.5 minutes of rest in between. This should simulate the feeling of a max lift where you’re struggling to get the weight up. 

5. Power Squat : Back to the power squats. Do 3 sets of 15 with 1.5 minutes of rest in between.

 

At the end of this workout you should feel like you put your legs to work! This workout involves different training methods like plyometrics, isometrics, and high tension exercises. These all follow the training principle of using your fast twitch muscles, the muscle fibers responsible for muscle growth, strength, and power.

 

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Get Stronger With These Home Chest Workouts

Chest workouts you can do at home for more strength and muscle

These last couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of home chest workouts to help me maintain or build my upper body pushing strength. It’s been a challenge without weights but I’m confident in the workouts I’ve been doing. In general, my workout routines have changed but my training approach still remains the same. My training has focus is still on activating as much muscle fibers as possible. This is a major key to performing and looking your best. This is

Focus on high muscle contraction and quality conditioning. Focusing on these two training methods are the keys to an athletic and attractive body. A body that can lift, move well, and still look good.

Instead of heavy weights and explosive lifts, I’m doing plyometrics and isometrics. Even my regular bodyweight exercises involve me flexing my muscles as hard as possible while doing them.

Training is a mindset. It doesn’t matter what type of equipment you have. You can still approach your workouts with the same intention as you would when you’re lifting heavy. They say the body follows the mind. When you have the right mindset with the proper training knowledge, things take care of themselves. These are some of my home chest workouts for strength.

Chest Workout #1

This first workout is simple.

  1. Wall Pushes: Wall pushes are a form of overcoming isometrics.They’re a great way to activate a ton of muscle fibers.  With overcoming isometrics, you’ll actually use more muscle fibers than you would with a max effort lift.
  • Six sets of six second wall pushes: I like to use two different joint angles, doing three sets of each. This helps me mimic the two hardest joint angles of the bench press. I rest 1.5 minutes in between each set.

2. High Tension Pushups: These are like regular pushups except that you’re tensing your muscles as hard possible. Each rep is controlled and focusing on maintaining muscle tension.

  • 7- 10 sets of 15. Rest a minute and a half in between each set.

Chest Workout # 2

  1. Standard Pushups: Do 20 pushups to get started.
  2. Plyo Pushups: These are clap pushups without the clap. Lower yourself on a 3 count and once you get to the bottom, push off the ground as hard as possible.
  • 3 sets of 5. Rest 1 minute in between sets.

3.  Triangle Pushups

  • One set of 12

 

4. Max Tension Slow Pushups for one minute: These are tough. The goal is to go slow that it takes you 30 seconds to get to the bottom of the pushup position. After that, it should take you 30 seconds to get to the top of the push up position

  •  Two sets

5. Max Tension Slow Triangle pushups: It’s the same concept as the regular pushups but the only difference is each portion is 20 seconds rather than 30.

6. Decline Pushups: One set of 20.

7. Triangle Incline Pushups: One set of 12.

8. Timed Pushups: Set a timer for three minutes and do as many pushups as possible. Doing high reps will help you build Tendon Strength.

These are the chest and shoulder workouts I’ve been doing since the gyms have closed. I’m confident they can help you maintain or improve your upper body strength. You’ll also build some muscle !

Photo by Keiji Yoshiki from Pexels

 

The Most Valuable Exercise

If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would you choose? As someone who’s obsessed with iron, you’d think I’d choose one of the big lifts or even the farmers walk. The one exercise I’d choose is the sprint. This is one of the most natural human movements. It’s in our DNA. Our ancestors had to sprint to run away from wild animals or to chase something.

Luckily for all of us who don’t have access to a gym, the option to sprint is still available. It’s a total body exercise that requires zero equipment. All you need is the proper clothes and open space. They’re fun too. Sprinting is like riding a roller coaster but you are the roller coaster. The reason sprints are the most valuable exercises is because they can help you in the different areas of fitness.

What’s Your Fitness Goal?

Do you want to burn fat? Sprinting is one of the best fat burning exercises you can do. It works every muscle in your body and will have your heart rate up for hours after. This means you’ll be burning calories even after your workout.

Do You want to build muscle? Sprinting stimulates your fast twitch muscles, the type responsible for muscle growth. I’ve never seen a sprinter without a decent amount of muscle. It’s also proven to increase muscle building hormones like HGH and testosterone.

Do you want to gain strength? Sprinting strengthens your nervous system which increases your strength gaining potential. This makes sense since strength is a function of the nervous system.

Even if you don’t have access to weights, you can still take advantage of all the fat burning, muscle gaining, and overall awesome benefits of sprinting. If you could only choose one exercise to do for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Below are some valuable resources in your sprint training:

The different ways I’ve used sprint training-Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints

Outdoor workout that builds strong and muscular legs-Outdoor Leg Workout For The Ages!

The benefits of hill sprints-My Love For Hill Sprints

Study talking about how short sprints affect testosterone and human growth hormone- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19057403/

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Tendon Strength

Why you should focus on strengthening your tendons for overall strength.

It’s common knowledge that you need to lift weights in order to gain strength, but what if you don’t have access to weights? What if there’s a global pandemic going on and all the gyms are closed ? Are your strength gains doomed ? I wouldn’t be writing this post if that was the case.

I’m in the same boat as a lot of gym goers who don’t have access to weights. It can be frustrating thinking that the progress you’ve made will go away. This doesn’t have to be the case. Something that’s often overlooked in gaining overall strength is the strength of your tendons. When you lift heavy weights, one thing that happens is your tendons and joints get stronger. This is your brain sending a message to your body that this change is necessary so you can handle that stress again.

It makes sense when you think about it. The stronger your tendons are, the more load your body can handle. As a student of strength I’ve done some research and discovered that a lot of the old school strong guys really focused on their tendon strength. A lot of these guys are known for incredible feats of strength despite not being so big. During this break from the gym, I’ll be focusing a lot on strengthening my tendons to help me to at least maintain my strength.

Exercises That Will Build Tendon Strength

High Rep Bodyweight Exercises: Doing high rep bodyweight exercises is a great way to strengthen your tendons. I’ve used high rep training in the past to help strengthen my knee tendons after suffering an injury. Famous fitness coach Max Shank used high rep squats to recover from a bone bruise caused by a hyper-extended knee.   

Isometrics: Since the day my gym closed, I had the idea of adding isometrics to my training routine. A lot of the old school strongmen I mentioned earlier were big on isometric training. It’s forgotten now because it doesn’t look as cool as moving heavy weight. There are two types of isometrics that I’ll be using; overcoming Isometrics and Extreme Isometrics.

I’ve played around with overcoming isometrics before but I never did it consistently. The idea is to use all the force in your body to move an immovable object. You might ask what’s the point of trying to move something that can’t be moved. The benefit to this type of training is your activating and using a large amount of muscle fiber. You’re applying as much force, if not more than you would for a 1 rep max. I’ve mentioned in the past that the key to maximum strength is applying more force .

In relation to tendon strength, exerting maximum force on an immovable object will place stress on your tendons as well as your muscles. This stress will force your tendons to adapt so it can handle that stress next time. It’s the same concept with how your body adapts to traditional strength training. Fortunately, overcoming isometrics doesn’t compress your joints the way traditional barbell and dumbbell training does.

The other type of isometric training that I’ve been utilizing is extreme isometric lunges. I’ve used these from the to time but now I’m willing to commit to them to reap their full benefits. The idea is to hold a lunge position for up to five minutes on each leg. In addition to stronger knees, you can expect to see an increase in leg muscle size, better nervous system function, and better athletic performance. The most I’ve been able to do is two minutes on each leg. After a week of consistent isometric lunges, I can already feel a difference in the stability of my knees. 

The key to making this work is your mindset towards the exercise. Rather than treating it as an endurance exercise that you need to hold for a certain amount of time, treat it as survival. You need to mentality that you’ll die if you drop in the lunge. This mentality puts extra stress on you. With this stress, your body and nervous system will adapt to make a stronger you.

Plyometrics: the stress put on your tendons through plyometrics forces your body to strengthen them as a result. Just like with weight lifting, you don’t want to overdo plyometrics. I speak from experience when I say doing too much volume on your plyos will lead to joint pain.

One of them best plyometric exercises to improve tendon strength is the depth jump. This is also the most strenuous so do these only when you’re ready. You’ll know you’re ready for depth jumps when you can squat at least double your body weight and learned proper jumping and landing techniques. The reason it’s so powerful is that it causes an impact of up to 3x your body weight on your body. That’s a lot of stress and in order  for you to handle that stress again, your body needs to adapt.

If you want to build strength without weights, focus on strengthening your tendons. By strengthening your tendons and joints, your body will be more equipped to handle heavy weights and other external forces.The interesting thing about the training methods I mentioned in this post is that they’re also know for strengthening the nervous system. There are no excuses. Let’s get to work! Below are some resources I’ve used to help me 

Benefit of High Rep bodyweight exercises:  https://www.t-nation.com/training/8-minutes-to-awesome

What motivated me to try extreme isometrics: https://www.just-fly-sports.com/one-mans-dive-into-extreme-isometrics/

Medical research talking about the muscle activation of isometric exercises: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11717228

Photo by Leon Martinez from Pexels

The Grind Continues!

How to adjust now that most gyms in the country are closed

What are we going to do now that the gyms are closed? Unless you have the luxury of a home gym, you’re going to have to make some adjustments. Since fitness is a lifestyle, we gotta continue the grind. It’s time to test the theory that the world is your gym!

I’m going to miss hitting the weights but part of me embraces this challenge. Since you have the fitness mindset , I’m sure you do too. For all you cardio junkies, you won’t have an issue getting in some good cardio outdoors. This post is more for my fellow lifters. Let’s make this work. Let’s approach our new training approach with the mindset that we’re still trying to get stronger.

How To Still Get in Good Workouts

High rep work: High rep bodyweight exercises are very underrated when it comes to strength training. It won’t beat heavy weight training but it definitely has it’s benefits.One of the main ones is stronger joints and tendons. By strengthening your joints and tendons, you’ll be better equipped to handle weights when you get back to lifting. I’ve even heard stories of people having impressive weight lifting numbers just from high rep bodyweight exercises.

Remember Your Movement Patterns: One way to reduce weightlifting rust is to find ways to replicate the movement patterns you already do in the gym. Bodyweight squats for front and back squats. Push-ups for the bench press. Get a broom and practice your deadlift technique. As long as you continue the movement patterns you did in the gym, the transition back won’t be as bad. Don’t be surprised if you make some progress!

Train your fast-twitch muscles: If you’re a strength and power athlete, you can still train your fast twitch muscles with just your body weight. Fast twitch muscle fibers are the ones most responsible for muscle and strength growth. You can train these with plyometric exercises including jumps, sprints, and explosive push-ups.

Yoga: Here’s your chance to give yoga a shot if you haven’t already. Since you’ll still be training hard, yoga will help with workout recovery. It’ll also help you keep your stress levels in check during these challenging times. I reccomend the yoga App, Down Dog.

Be Creative: When you don’t have access to weights, creativity will be big. I recently found some old tires and microwave in my backyard. I know there ways I can use these items for some resistance training. Check your surroundings and see what you can use as a workout tool. 

I’ll continue looking and finding ways to make progress during these challenging times. Weights and equipment are great but everything starts with you. You’re your own source of strength and power. The grind continues!

Photo by <a href=”https://burst.shopify.com/@ndekhors?utm_campaign=photo_credit&amp;utm_content=Free+Exercise+Balance+Image%3A+Stunning+Photography&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=credit”>Nicole De Khors</a> from <a href=”https://burst.shopify.com/api-fitness-sports?utm_campaign=photo_credit&amp;utm_content=Free+Exercise+Balance+Image%3A+Stunning+Photography&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=credit”>Burst</a&gt;

 

Outdoor Leg Workout For The Ages!

This post is great for people without gym memberships and those who want to spice up their fitness routine.

Following the theme from my previous post,I added an outdoor workout to my routine. I’ll be doing this workout every week and I believe it’ll contribute to my Fitness goals of overall strength, athleticism, and health.

My Workout:

My workout was very simple. I found a short and moderately steep hill and did some hill sprints. The purpose of this workout was to build leg power. Since I do leg work at the gym too, I made sure my total volume was low.

Five sets of two hill sprints. I rested two minutes in between each set. After the hill workout, I did isometric lunges for one minute on each leg. I did two sets for each leg with a minute rest in between.

Benefits of This Workout:

Safety: There’s some form of risk with every workout you do. It depends on a number of factors like your mechanics, pre-existing injuries, and how much you recovered from previous workouts. I believe the rewards of this workout outweigh the risk since there’s no external load involved. Also, the sprints you’re doing is on a hill so won’t be moving fast enough to pull your hamstring or put your ligaments at risk.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Recruitment: By doing hill sprints with an emphasis on speed and power, you’ll be recruiting a lot of fast-twitch muscles. Fast-Twitch muscles are the muscle fibers that produce the greatest muscle growth.

Fast-twitch muscles also make you a better athlete. The explosive movements you see in sports and in the weightroom involve the usage of a lot of fast-twitch muscles. The isometric lunges also recruit fast twitch muscles due to the fact that you have to activate as much muscle fibers as possible so your legs can stay stable. Doing them after hill sprints makes me work that much harder.

Fat-Loss: Every time I’ve had sprints in my training routine, I’ve been my leanest. It makes sense when you think about how hard your body is working to move fast. There’s so much muscles involved in the movement. Now imagine the extra work you have to do to run up a hill as fast as possible. Sprinting is an aerobic workout too. When I did this workout, I was breathing heavily. My heart was moving faster than a stampede of buffalo. The image below is the aftermath of this workout.

Joint Health: This goes hand in hand with the safety aspect of the workout. Safety aside, I believe this workout makes your joints healthier. I’m speaking from experience when I say that hill sprints have helped me improve my joint health.

My ankles and hips have gotten stronger as a result of running hills. When I first started running hills, I experienced soreness in these joints as a result of the intensity of the movement.

The isometric lunge part of the workout also contributes to joint health. In order to hold the lunge position, your joints have to be stabilized. They also build muscle endurance, which is critical for injury prevention. Most injuries happen when the muscles are fatigued.

Closing Thoughts: If you want to get outside of the weightroom and hit your legs a different way, this article is for you. It’s a fun way to mix up your workouts. So remember, Hill Sprints are awesome and the world is your gym!

Strong People Should Do Yoga

This post is about how yoga will help you in the weight room and in other areas of fitness

When it comes to building strength, yoga doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Yoga might not have the same effect that weightlifting has for strength building but it’ll indirectly make you stronger.Personally, I wouldn’t have made as much progress with my training if it wasn’t for yoga. From the outside yoga may look like glorified stretching but once you try it, you’ll experience a challenging workout.

Yoga Benefits

Flexibility: Yoga will help boost your overall flexibility. This is useful when trying to lift a weight with a full range of motion. As someone that does yoga, I never have an issue squatting to depth.

Stability: Yoga builds muscle and joint stability. In order to do those standing lunges and single leg poses, your stabilizer muscles will need to be used. The stronger your stabilizers are, the more power you get generate in your movements. Why don’t those people who squat on bosu balls lifting heavy weights? It’s because you can’t generate as much power on an unstable surface.

Core Strength: Several yoga poses will force you to engage your core muscles. A strong core will help you generate more power in any movement you perform. A strong core will also reduce your risk of injuries. Core strength is very important

Muscle recovery: Yoga helps with muscle recovery because it promotes blood flow. It’s probably because of those long poses and the deep breathing done in yoga workouts. I know my sore muscles always feel better after a yoga session.

Balance: Yoga provides the perfect balance to weight lifting. Some lifts like the squat compress your spine while yoga decompresses it. Proper weight lifting requires varying levels of intensity. Yoga can be challenging but it relaxes you. Yoga will also increase your energy so you have more in the tank when you hit the gym.

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Downward Facing Dog: The Downward Facing Dog is good for us lifters that really hit squats and deadlifts. This pose will give you a stretch throughout your backside from your lower back all the way to your calves. Runners and sprinters would benefit from this pose as well. The image on the thumbnail is a good demonstration of the Downward Facing Dog.

High Lunge: The high lunge is one of my favorite poses. The name says it all. In this pose your front leg will be in a lunge position and your back leg will be straight. You’ll also raise your arms to the sky. This pose gives you a groin and hip stretch but my favorite thing about is the increase in single leg stability. This pose will also build muscle endurance so you can perform any physical activity longer. Increased muscle endurance helps with injury prevention.

yoga-crescent-lunge_925x

 

Upward Facing Dog: This move is great for stretching your hip flexors. Tight hip flexors limit glute activation which will hold back your ability to perform big lifts and athletic movements.

upward-facing-dog-yoga_925x

Pigeon Pose: This is a great pose to loosen tight hips. I especially love doing this the day after a hard squat or deadlift workout. I don’t want to butcher the explanation for this pose so I’m putting a link below to help you get a good idea of how the pose is done.

https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-one-legged-king-pigeon-pose-in-yoga

My Yoga Reccomendations:

As someone who likes to do high intensity training like lifting heavy weights and sprinting, I like to do Vinyasa Yoga. I like this type of yoga because it’s not as intense as other forms of yoga. I mainly use yoga as a recovery method on my non-lifting days. I also recommend easing into poses in order to avoid injuries. Yoga should help you feel better, not worse. I’m currently using an app called Down Dog that provides a wide variety of yoga workouts.

Closing Thoughts: I’m so grateful for what yoga has done for me in my fitness journey. It’s helped my body recover from the impacts of intense workouts as well as battle life’s stresses. AS you add yoga to your fitness routine, don’t be surprised if other areas of your life improve as well.

 

The images on this post were taken by the same photographer. I put a link of his instagram below.

https://www.instagram.com/matt_henry_photo/

 

For better yoga tutorials :  https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/