You can sit on a leg extension machine and hyperextend your knees 30-40 times as a leg workout, or you can spend some time doing functional, strength-and-muscle-building exercises that you can actually use in your day-to-day life. If you’re doing this workout, you’ve chosen the second option. Congrats!
A mix of set-rep schemes and weight ranges, plus a focus on explosive movements, are key to this workout. You want to go heavy, but you also want to be keeping the weight moving as quickly as possible. That’ll mean lightening up on a few lifts (but not squats. We know, you’re bummed).
Squats: 5×5. Head up, chest and butt out, shoulders back. Thighs parallel to the ground, drive from the heels. You know the drill by now. Go heavy, and get rested between sets.
4 Supersets: 5 Power Cleans/30 second planks. Squat over a barbell on the floor and take an overhand grip. Keeping your butt down and back flat, explode upward and fully extend at the ankles, knees and elbows, and, in the same movement, lower yourself to “catch” the bar as you pull it high to your shoulders and rotate your elbows forward. Start light if you need to get your form down. On the planks, concentrate on keeping your navel drawn in (imagine you’re trying to touch your spine with your belly button) and — don’t laugh — clench your butt cheeks. Yeah, we said it. This keeps your core activated throughout the exercise.
Dumbbell Split Squat: 4×10 per leg. Use a bench behind you and put your trail foot on it. Keep the same squat principles in mind here — head up, chest out, etc., etc. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, or for a bigger challenge, above your head. Alternately, you can use a kettlebell, holding it elbow-up by your shoulder on the side of your lead leg.
4 Supersets: 6 Box Jumps/15 second side planks. Use the highest box you can land on safely, and start from a two-footed position — don’t take a step first to gain momentum. By jumping back up as soon as you hit the ground when jumping off the box, you can build a great deal of stamina as well as vertical leap power. Let’s see the leg extension machine do that!