Slip on Your Short Shorts

At home or at the gym, this lower-half workout has got you covered — no matter what tools are available.
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Gardening — one of Spring’s unofficial pastimes — requires specific tools to accomplish specific objectives. Unless you’re a character in a Dr. Seuss story, you’d probably never use a hose to dig a hole, or a spade to water your plants.

Fortunately, when it comes to weight training, there are no such equipment restrictions. Take this five-move lower-body plan: it’s designed so that you can turn up the heat on your legs whether you have a barbell, dumbbells or a med ball in your fitness tool shed. Get started today, and you’ll be ready for spring’s cutest shorts in a matter of weeks.

The Plan

Using the equipment you have available, perform each of these moves with a weight that allows you to complete the number of repetitions appropriate to your fitness level (see “Find your program”). Do the moves in any order you’d like, changing it up from week to week to provide variety and keep your body guessing. Note: if you don’t have any equipment, go without – this workout is still effective using only your body weight. Or, if you have all the equipment handy, switch up your gear with each exercise!

Find Your Program

Beginner: For each move, perform one or two sets of eight to 10 repetitions (each leg). Rest for up to a minute between sets. Follow the plan twice per week, leaving at least two days of recovery in between workouts.

Intermediate: Do two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions (each leg). Rest for 45 seconds between sets. Schedule this workout two or three times per week, leaving at least one day of rest in between workouts.

Advanced: Do three or four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions (each leg), and rest for 30 seconds in between sets. Aim to complete this workout three times per week, with time for rest in between (for example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Shock Your Body!

If your goal is to drop fat fast, Jonathan Mike, PhD(c), CSCS, NSCA-CPT suggests performing the exercises one after another with little or no rest in between to create a program that will “build muscle, increase metabolism and burn the most fat in the least amount of time.” After the last exercise, rest for one minute and repeat right away.

Reverse Lunge Off Step

Reverse-Lunge-Step-Off

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius

Set Up: Position a barbell across the back of your shoulders and stand on a step with your feet hip-width apart.

Action: Take a large step back with one foot and bend both legs to lunge. When you’ve lowered as far as you can, push off your rear foot and return to the start. Continue, alternating sides.

Reverse-Lunge-Variations

If you’re using a medicine ball: Hold the ball close to your chest or, for a greater challenge, overhead. You can also reach the ball to the outside of your front leg for additional core and balance work.

If you’re using dumbbells: Hold the weights in front of your shoulders or at your sides. Change it up by holding a weight in one hand only, and complete your reps on that side before switching to your opposite hand and leg.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Stiff-Legged-Deadlift

Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, erector spinae

Set Up: Hold a barbell in front of your thighs and stand with your feet hip- or shoulder-width apart and knees unlocked.

Action: Maintain a straight back as you hinge forward from your hips to lower the barbell towards the floor, keeping it close to your legs. When your hands reach mid-shin level or slightly lower (depending on your flexibility), reverse the motion, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings as you rise to come back to the starting position.

Stiff-Legged-Deadlift-Variations

If you’re using a medicine ball: Hold the medicine ball in front of your chest or navel.

If you’re using dumbbells: Hold the dumbbells in front of your body, with your palms facing your legs.

Lunge Around The World

Lunge-Around-The-World

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius

Set Up: Grab a barbell and place it across your shoulders. Stand tall, with your feet hip-width apart.

Action: Step forward with one leg, lunge, then return to the start. Using the same leg, take a step out to the side and lunge. Return to the start. Last, lunge to the rear and return to the start. Start your next rep with your other foot, and continue. (Note: since you are doing so many lunges per rep, cut your total number of reps in half, and work each leg equally.)

Lunge-Around-The-World-Variations

If you’re using a medicine ball: Hold the ball in front of your chest, or press it overhead as you lunge for an added challenge.

If you’re using dumbbells: Hold the weights at your sides. Kick it up a notch by doing a lateral raise, overhead press or front raise as you lunge in each direction.

One-Legged Squat

one-legged-squat

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, leg stabilizers, core (transverse abdominis)

Set Up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Shift your weight onto one leg and bend the opposite knee to lift your foot off the ground. (Beginners: lightly touch your toes to the ground for balance.)

Action: Bend your standing leg to squat, while keeping your hips level. Go as low as you can, then slowly straighten your leg. Complete all reps before switching legs.

One-Legged-Squat-Variations

If you’re using a medicine ball: Hold the ball at chest level or overhead.

If you’re using dumbbells: Hold the weights at your sides, or hold a single heavy dumbbell on the side of your working leg.

Step-Up

Step-Up

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius

Set Up: Hold a barbell across the back of your shoulders and stand with the broad side of a flat bench in front of you.

Action: Place your foot on top of the bench and extend your leg to stand on top. Slowly reverse to return to the start. Complete all your reps on one leg before switching to the other.

Step-Up-Variations

If you’re using a medicine ball: Hold the ball in front of your chest. Make it harder by pressing the ball overhead as you step.

If you’re using dumbbells: Hold the weights in front of your shoulders or at your sides, or hold one heavy weight on the side of your working leg for a greater challenge.

Tip: One-sided moves, like lunges, step-ups and one-legged squats, help to even out muscular imbalances in your lower body.

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