WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Floor-Up Legs and Core

Generating power from the ground up is a great way to build muscle and overall strength – training the legs, core and upper body at once is an incredibly functional concept that will help not only in the gym, but in your everyday life.

The king of the floor-up training principle, of course, is the deadlift, and it is involved heavily in this workout – literally. After getting through heavy work on deadlifts – you can use either a standard or sumo variation – you will move on to an explosive ground-up movement, grouped with an appropriate stretch and some core work. This will allow you to utilize the progressive load principle (start with your most demanding lifts, finish with more technique-intensive movements), for a well-rounded workout.

If you don’t have access to a TRX or another form of suspension trainer, use the alternative, listed in italics.

FLOOR-UP LEGS AND CORE

Sumo Squats: 5, 5, 5, 3, 3 – increase the workload each time. Take a wide stance, toes pointed outward, and take care to keep your shoulders pulled back – a narrower grip will invite hunching, which you want to avoid.

Grouped Work – 5 total sets. Perform each movement, then move to the next with no rest.

  1. Power Cleans to front squat – 5, 5, 3, 3, 1
  2. Lying Brettzel stretch – 10 seconds per side
  3. TRX body saws – 10 (ab roller x 10, or plank for 30 seconds)

Alternating Lunges: 2 sets forward – 8 reps per leg; 2 sets reverse, 8 reps per leg.

Split Your Squats and Deadlifts to Different Workouts

Two of the most important lifts you can perform, for any reason — be it strength, muscle mass, or even just better all-around athleticism — are the squat and the deadlift. You probably already knew that.

But should your legs day include both of these elite compound movements? You should be doing both, after all. Perhaps not on the same day, however.

The question is not so much whether you can handle the workload (if you can, that’s one heck of a workout). Some lifters’ legs day might actually include just the squat, deadlift and some other auxiliary lifts. But if you’re trying to train to get stronger in each lift, you should definitely split up your legs days into quad-centric and hamstring/glute-centric days, and that could mean up to 3 legs days per week. This is a good thing!

squatdlThe biggest reason for doing this type of split is that it allows the largest muscle groups to get the most work while getting ample rest between workouts, and still allows for enough overall energy to perform at a high level with every session. Strength training isn’t about maxing out every time you train, but you certainly will be using heavier weights than you would if you were solely concentrating on hypertrophy with a bodybuilding-style emphasis.

It’s highly recommended that each of your legs days starts off with either the squat or the deadlift, to get the most physically taxing lifts off the table first without sacrificing the strength and support of stabilizing muscles. In practice, this makes enough sense — you wouldn’t hit your abs or fire off a bunch of lunges before getting under your squat PR, or hammer the middle back with rows and shrugs before you tried to pull your best deadlift. Same concept applies to doing both the squat and DL in the same session: Because both lifts activate so many muscles, whichever one you do second will inevitably suffer if you are aiming to get stronger with it (and there is really no practical reason to deadlift, in particular, for reps). So let’s avoid that.

Splitting these lifts into separate workouts gives you the opportunity to focus on hammering the quadriceps and also training the posterior chain. An example of this alternating split would look like this, if you were performing a legs day every other or third workout and training 5-6 times a week (exercises listed in order of execution):

Legs Day 1 (Squat Focus): Squats, Power Cleans, Forward Lunges, Box Jumps, TRX or Swiss ball hamstring curls

Legs Day 2 (Posterior Chain): Deadlifts, Power Cleans, Backward Lunges, Deep Goblet Squats, Calf Work (Jump rope or raises)

Note that power cleans, which are tremendous for building from-the-ground all-around strength, are included in both workouts — they have the power to complement both the squat and deadlift, but can be performed with relatively light weight and still have a big impact for explosive strength. You’ll also note that each workout has an antagonistic exercise included; that is to say that the quad-focused day has some hamstring/glute work and vice versa. This is to help allay any imbalances as the workout progresses.

Squats and deadlifts are both important parts of a strong athlete’s training plan, so do them — just consider giving each lift its proper attention when it comes to crafting your workout sessions.

The NUTRISHOP Lean Gains Plan for Men

When we hear people set fitness goals, we usually here one or the other of these: to gain muscle mass, or to lose fat.

We’re asking — why not both? While it is more difficult to achieve both goals at the same time, it is possible, and it’s not as hard as some may think. Building lean, strong muscle mass while losing body fat is the holy grail of fitness goals outside of athletic performance, and it requires a dedicated adherence to a smart diet plan and goal-focused training plan.

That’s why we’ve put together this week-long workout you can repeat up to six weeks straight: The NUTRISHOP Lean Gains Plan for men.

For a .PDF version of this file you can print out and take to the gym with you, click here!

With five days a week of weight training (three lower-body, two upper-body), followed by a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session, the focus will be on short-but-effective workouts that limit rest periods. Keep them to no longer than 60 seconds between sets; if a superset is listed, you take no rest between exercises within the superset and rest only after the superset is complete. Each day has varying levels of intensity, with Days 2 and 3 sure to be your most grueling workouts.

After every workout, perform 15 minutes of HIIT, using a 45-15 method — that is, go 45 seconds at 70-75 percent effort, followed by 15 seconds of all-out effort. Then ramp it back down and repeat.

We’ve included recommended supplements to take as well, and the timing of them, to maximize your results.

Pre-Workout Supplementation:

45 minutes before workout – 4 ARABOL, 3 N’FUZE, 3 N’RAGE

10-15 minutes before workout: Pre-Workout (NO-XP3, HEMOVEX, N’SANE, VASOCOR, STANCE, ERRATIC, BLUEPRINT)

Intra-Workout Supplementation:

1/2 to 1 scoop of KARBOLYN XR3, 1 SCOOP BCAA

Post-Workout Supplementation:

1.5 scoops PRO7/FORZAPRO, 3 N’FUZE, 3 N’RAGE

1.5 Hours After Workout:

Post-Workout Meal – lean protein, small slow-burning carb (half a sweet potato or 1/4 C of oatmeal, for example), small piece of fruit

DAY 1 LOWER BODYopener-squat-supercharged-ss

Squats: 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 (increase weight)
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 14, 12, 10, 8 (increase weight)
Power Cleans: 6, 6, 4, 4, 3
Jump Squats: 4 sets to failure

15 mins HIIT

DAY 2 UPPER BODY

3 Supersets: 12 DB Bench Press/12 Bent-Over DB Rows. Use the exact same dumbbells for both movements, never setting them down.

3 Supersets: 12 Incline BB Bench Press/12 Wide-Grip Pull-Ups. If you can’t do 12 pull-ups, either use an assisted pull-up machine or (if you can’t do even 6-8) go to failure.

3 Supersets: 10 Plyometric Push-Ups/12 Medicine Ball Slams. If you don’t have access to medicine balls (or the gym doesn’t like you slamming them into the ground), you can sub in Wide-Grip Standing Cable Pushdowns.

3 Supersets: 10 DB Flys/10 Inverted Rows. Perform your inverted rows on a Smith machine by lowering the bar, then simply pull yourself up, belly up and body parallel to the ground.

15 mins HIIT

DAY 3 LOWER BODY/CORE

5 Supersets: 5 deadlifts (heavy)/12 narrow-stance squats (light)

4 Supersets: 5 Bent Kettlebell Presses/Plank for 45 seconds (30 if you cannot do 45)

5 Supersets: 3 Power Clean-to-Front Squat/3 per leg – Alternating Box Step-Ups, holding a plate overhead

3×12: Hanging Leg Raises

4×5 per arm: Cable Chop

4×5 per arm: Cable Lift

15 mins HIIT

DAY 4 – REST DAY (HIIT OPTIONAL)

DAY 5 UPPER BODY

3 Supersets: Alternating One-Arm DB Bench Press (8 per arm)/Alternating One-Arm DB Rows (8 per arm) — on the bench press, hold two dumbbells, with the off-hand stabilizing one just above your chest, not resting on it, while the other works.

3 Tri-Sets: 8 DB Standing Press/8 Flat-Bar Triceps Cable Pushdowns/8 Reverse-Grip Pull-Ups

15 mins HIIT

DAY 6 LOWER BODY

4 Supersets: 5 Squats/12 Leg Extensions (heavy on squats, light on extensions)

4 Supersets: 5 Deadlifts/12 Hamstring Curls (heavy on DLs, light on curls)

3 Supersets: 8 Alternating Forward Lunges (per leg)/8 Seated Calf Raises

15 mins HIIT

DAY 7 – REST DAY

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Short on Time? Hit These Three Lifts

The standing press is a great one to incorporate, whether you're in a rush or trying to hone upper-body strength.

The standing press is a great one to incorporate, whether you’re in a rush or trying to hone upper-body strength.

You need to work out, but you don’t have time for a comprehensive, all-encompassing session full of time-consuming, single-joint movements to complement your other lifts, or you can’t do a dedicated muscle group day. Not a problem. You can always do three staple lifts without missing a beat.

DEADLIFTS: There’s hardly a more functional, muscle-engaging exercise than the deadlift; some even rank it above the squat — consider your every-day life, and how often you might bend over to pick something up, compared to getting under it and putting it on your back. Glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, back and more — the deadlift will make you work hard and is one of the best time investments you can make in the gym.

You can get the most benefit from the deadlift by treating it as a training-for-function exercise, which means you’re going to go heavy. 5×5 is a great classic set-rep scheme that gets you enough reps while challenging enough for each one to make it worth your while.

PULL-UPS: Pull your body through space until your chin is above the bar. It could hardly sound easier, and yet, pull-ups still remain one of the most basic and best back and arm exercises you can perform. Targeting the lats, traps, rhomboids, biceps and delts, the pull-up is a true, natural test of your strength. When you’re crunched for time, you can hardly do better than banging out a few sets of these.

Because they’re difficult, and because everyone’s weight and strength levels aren’t always in accordance, it can be a bit too tough to try to pull of 3 or 4 sets of 10-12. Definitely shoot for that, but if your arms give out before your back does, find an assisted pull-up machine that helps displace some of your body weight. As a last resort, you can use the pull-down machine.

STANDING PRESS: Take weight. Lift it above your head. Hold it there like a trophy. On top of just looking cool, the standing press is a staple of upper-body strength and utility. Engaging the shoulders, back, upper chest and core, the standing press can allow for big gains in short order when done properly.

Any number of sets and reps totaling 24-30 reps is ideal, but keep the weight safe. You should be able to start with the bar on the floor, or in a hang clean position. A personal favorite set-rep scheme that allows for the heavier end is 4×6 or 3×8, but you could lighten it up and go 3×10-12 as well. If you really want to test your endurance, shoot for 4-10 (and go significantly lighter).

NUTRISHOP’s Deadlift Week

At its core, weight training is about function. Sure, we like the way our bodies look when muscles get stronger, bigger and better defined. We like to burn the calories that lead to fat loss. The bottom line in judging how essential any particular lift is is easy, however: How many muscles does it work? To that end, it is extremely difficult to top the deadlift.

There are several variations on this tried-and-true lift, each of which is uniquely advantageous and also properly taxing to the body, specifically the muscles in the posterior chain — back, glutes, hamstrings, calves. Our aim this week is to give you three of the best and show you how to implement them into your exercise routine. Deadlifts are a MUST for several reasons: They build leg, core and back strength and they add much-needed balance to the overall physique.

Let’s start at the beginning today with the most common form of the lift, the standard deadlift. This is the one on Mt. Liftmore, if you will.

STANDARD DEADLIFT

deadlift-socks“Are you strong enough to pick that up?” If you can deadlift, you’ll probably be able to answer that question with a “Yes” in the future (and you can follow up with, “but I still won’t help you move.”). Some call the squat the No. 1 lift one should have in his or her arsenal; we like to think of them as 1 and 1A. A step-by-step approach to the deadlift:

  • Start, and end, with the bar on the ground. Seems like a no-brainer, but we see more people than we’d like starting with the bar dangling in the air. Yank that thing off the floor for the biggest gains.
  • Stand with the bar in front of you, over your feet and touching your shins, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a stance very similar to a squat — head neutral, chest up, thighs parallel to the ground, weight on your heels — and prepare to grab the bar.
  • You’ll lift the weight with a mixed grip; that is, one overhand and one underhand (be sure to switch the hands’ grips from set to set), with your hands just outside your thighs. Grab the bar hard — in addition to building full-body strength, deadlifts are a great way to enhance your grip strength. Forget gloves or straps, at least when you’re starting out. They won’t benefit you in the early stages. Chalk, however, is just fine.
  • The movement upward starts with a hard squeeze of the glutes, pushing forward with the hips and driving with your legs from the heels. DO NOT let your back or shoulders round, and DO NOT let your butt come up before your upper body does. Keep your spine straight and head neutral. Once you have stood up with the weight, stand tall and hold it for a second.
  • Note: The deadlift is an explosive movement — take a breath, hold it, and release it as you come out of your stance HARD, keeping your core tight.
  • You can either drop it if you’re going heavy (since 100 percent of your effort should be going toward the lift), or lower the weight back to the floor in a controlled manner. Don’t let the weights bounce off the ground while you’re holding it; many a deadlifter has jammed or broken a wrist this way.

ROMANIAN (STIFF-LEGGED) DEADLIFT

Probably the second-most common deadlift is this version, which puts more emphasis on the hamstrings and spinal erectors than does the standard deadlift, but also removing some of the larger muscle groups from the equation. Because of that, it’s not the deadlift you want to use most frequently, but it does have a place in your workout routine. The weight is typically much lighter, with a longer range of motion.

  • The bar starts in the same place — right over your feet, touching your shins and on the ground — but you’re set up a bit differently. The main difference is in your feet: They should be fairly close together, pointing straight forward.
  • Take the mixed grip at shoulder-width on the bar, keeping your back flat and not letting your shoulders round. You’ll bend at the waist to grab the bar, bending the knees only slightly instead of squatting down as you would with a standard deadlift.
  • As you lift the weight. start the movement by moving your hips well back. This will drive your glutes back as well and help prevent your lower back from strain, placing more emphasis on the hamstrings. As you lift the weight, your hips should come forward, as in the standard deadlift.
  • Reverse the motion, starting by pulling your hips and butt back, and keep your shoulder blades pulled tight together as well as you lower the bar. Keep your head and spine neutral, and set the bar down right over your feet.

SUMO DEADLIFT

Another big-time compound lift, the sumo dead shortens the range of motion but allows to again target the glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors and core, as well as really working the back as it stabilizes the motion.

  • Once more, bar on the ground, right over your feet. This time, however, take a wide stance — well beyond shoulder width, in fact, with your toes pointed out and your weight on your heels.
  • Squat down over the bar, again taking a mixed grip, but with your hands just about shoulder-width apart or slightly closer.
  • Start with a hard squeeze of the glutes and hamstrings, extending the hips and knees fully while keeping the back straight and shoulders upright — do not let them round. You can use your back muscles to maintain your upper-body angle, not allowing your butt to come up before your chest does.
  • Drop the weight. Because of the focus on explosive action in this variation, the concentric (lifting) phase of the lift is the most important — the eccentric (lowering) phase will be almost all lower-back because of the stance’s width.

Legs Day for Athletic Performance and Strength

It’s that time again — Leg Day! Go hard!

Check out the workout below, or simply print out the .pdf for easy gym reference.

Warm-up: 1×10-15, light Romanian Deadlifts.
Sumo Deadlifts: 5, 4, 3, 3, 3. Go progressively heavier. Stretch the hamstrings well after each set.
Parallel Squats: 3×10.
Split Squats: 3×10 per leg.
3 Supersets: 5 Box Jumps/10 Jump Squats
Lateral Shuttle: 4 sets, 20 feet each direction as fast as you can. Once you’ve done a run to the right and left, that’s one “set.” Stay in a low, athletic stance.
3 Trisets: :45 planks, 20 BOSU crunches, :15 extended side planks, per side

Workout of the Week: Mixed-Method Legs Day

Check the photo for motivation, then print out the .pdf to take with you to the gym for easy reference!

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