A Champion Lower Body
Bikini pro and reigning Olympia and Arnold champion Ashley Kaltwasser reveals her secrets to an award-winning lower body.
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Seven and counting. That’s how many wins IFBB Bikini pro Ashley Kaltwasser has pocketed in a row, and there’s no end in sight. Since the Gaspari Nutrition athlete appeared on the pro circuit in 2012, Kaltwasser has made quite an impression on the sport, winning top 10 in all her competitions, with seven of those being first-place finishes. She’s got symmetry, balance, and the perfect combination of muscle and leanness to keep her at the top of the haystack. In short: She’s the bod to beat, especially when it comes to her lower half.
A former gymnast and a Division I collegiate hurdler, Kaltwasser came to the Bikini game with the powerful stems of an athlete. “I definitely thank track and all my athletic training for my leg development,” says the 5-foot-5-inch Ohio native. “Sprinting and plyometrics absolutely built the muscle and strength that helped me get to where I am today.”
Though she admits legs have not been a challenging part for her to develop, she doesn’t use that as an excuse to slack off: Rather, she trains her lower half twice a week, once with an emphasis on hamstrings and once with an emphasis on glutes. Kaltwasser’s also not one to stick blindly to a set routine, and she chose the moves for this hamstring-intensive workout based on personal preference. “I like to mix things up and change my training all the time,” she says. “Some days I use heavy weights with low reps, and others I do high reps with low weight — whatever I feel like I need. You want to shock your body each time you train and never get accustomed to the same old thing.”
Her lineup of core hamstring moves is not atypical, but she likes to bracket them fore and aft with plyometrics. “Plyos are a good wake-up call for your muscles and nervous system first off in the routine,” she explains. “And putting one at the end is like a final blowout to completely exhaust your muscles to wrap it up.” To make sure she really turns her legs into jelly, Kaltwasser often logs 50-plus reps per set of that final plyo move.
Use Kaltwasser’s lower-body workout for four to six weeks to build strength and speed, and you’ll be one step closer to having award-winning legs and butt yourself!
Squat Thrust Deadlift
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides.
Action: Squat down and place the dumbbells on the floor outside your feet. Jump your feet back into a plank and hold briefly, balancing with your hands on the dumbbells and your toes behind you. Jump your feet back underneath you and lift your hips until your legs are nearly straight, then stand up with a flat back, using your hamstrings and glutes to help you rise to the start.
Tip: Don’t rush any part of the exercise; do each segment deliberately for best results.
Weighted Hip Bridge
Setup: Rest your shoulders and upper back against the broad side of a flat bench and balance a barbell across your hips. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your hips until they are just above the floor.
Action: Holding the barbell steady with your hands, press your hips up toward the ceiling until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause and squeeze your glutes before slowly lowering to the start.
Tip: Press through your heels to keep the emphasis on the ham/glute tie-in area.
One-Legged Dumbbell Deadlift
Setup: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and extend your right leg straight behind you so only your toes are grazing the floor.
Action: Keeping a flat back, hinge forward from the hips, dropping the weight toward your foot while simultaneously raising the right leg behind you. When your torso and leg come parallel to the floor, or when you’ve gone as low as you can without rounding your back, reverse the move and rise to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching. Tip: Another option is to extend your opposite arm as you raise your leg.
Stability-Ball Hamstring Curl
Setup: Lie faceup on the floor with your arms along your sides and place your heels on a stability ball.
Action: Raise your hips off the ground and press your heels into the ball to roll it underneath you toward your glutes. When your knees make 90-degree angles, slowly roll back out to full extension.
Tip: If you really want a challenge, try doing this with one leg on the ball and one extended into the air.
Romanian Barbell Deadlift
Setup: Stand with your feet outside hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a barbell in front of you with a mixed grip.
Action: Keeping a flat back, hinge forward from the hips, lowering the barbell down along your legs and shins until you can go no further. Pause a moment and feel the stretch before reversing the move and squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to help you rise to the start. Do three sets of 10.
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