Few things are as intense as lower body training—you feel it the next day! But if it seems like your workout has become more of a walk in the park than the grueling training session it used to be, it’s time to make some changes.
Lower body training should by significantly challenging. You are working the largest muscles in the body, which will be demanding on both your muscular strength, and your cardiovascular system. But if you’re not continually adjusting your lower-body workout as you get stronger, chances are good you won’t be progressing the way you should. Here are four new things to try to crank up the intensity during your next lower body workout.
1. Do 100 reps of squats No exercise is as intense as squats and this 100-rep squat protocol will put you to the test!
Lighten the weight to about 75% of what you normally use and then begin performing your set. Any time you hit a point of full fatigue, stop and rest for as long as you need before continuing. Aim to keep the rest under 30 seconds—just recover long enough so you can continue doing more reps.
Keep going until you reach 100 reps—then you can rest! This will be incredibly tough to get through, so don’t plan to do much else during this workout session.
2. Try half-rep leg extensions Do 5 to 6 full leg-extension reps, and then perform another 5 to 6 reps only going through the top half of the movement. From there, perform another 2 to 3 full reps as you feel the burn. This helps train your muscles to deal with a high level of fatigue, making them stronger when you go back to doing your straight sets again.
3. Add on Single-Leg Leg Presses The single-leg leg press is a move that often gets overlooked, but it’s worth adding to your routine. It’s ideal for working the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, and will ensure that both legs are doing an equal amount of work.
After doing a set of regular leg presses, lighten the weight for single-leg presses. Be sure to do this exercise in a slow, controlled manner to really feel each muscle working at every point. Do 10 to 15 reps on each leg for full muscle activation.
4. Consider mountain climber intervals Ramp up the intensity by adding in some intervals between your lifting sets. For example, do a set of walking lunges and then move into a set of mountain climbers. Then, do your next set of lunges and repeat the process. (Note: You’ll want to avoid adding intervals between sets of really heavy exercises, such as squats and deadlifts—because when it’s time to rest between those you should really be resting.)
The next time you feel like your lower-body workout could use a little boost, make it more challenging with one of these techniques. By changing up your routine and putting yourself to the test, you’ll keep getting stronger and get more out of the time you spend at the gym.
Got a trick for making a workout more challenging? Share it in the comments below!