Fitness

Workout of the Week: Legs

Ah, the joy of training legs! Big muscles, big effort, big pain – yet big satisfaction! No other workout makes me feel better then getting through a leg session.

  1. Superset:
    1. Single leg lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps each leg; temp: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 10 secs
    2. Lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60 secs
  2. 45 degree leg press (low and close foot placement) – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs down, 2secs pause (bottom position), 4secs up; rest 60
  3. Superset:
    1. Glute kickback machine – 3 sets x15 reps; tempo: 3secs up, 2 secs pause (squeeze), 3secs down, 1sec pause; rest 10 secs
    2. Back Extension (Glute/ Hamstring focus) – 3 sets x10 reps; 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60; last set triple drop set till failure
Nutrition

Beginner’s Guide Part 4: The Supplements You Shouldn’t be Taking

By Laura Smith

Supplements are a multi-billion-dollar industry, and unless you have been living in a cave for the past twenty years, you probably have numerous supplements that you have bought over the years after being advised to do so by friends or family, or possibly reading some information on the internet.

However, there’s a smarter way to go about this and to get the biggest bang for your buck. How? By skipping certain supplements that are not necessary in the beginning of your fitness journey, or even at any point on your journey!

Calcium
Let me make myself clear – calcium is an important mineral for bone health. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are two debilitating conditions, so taking care of your bones is vital. Sure, there are studies out there that suggest taking calcium increases bone density, however the problem with those studies is that they always include other variables such as exercise and vitamin D. An osteoporotic bone isn’t just lacking adequate calcium, it also lacks magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and collagen.

So, why is supplementing with calcium usually a waste of money? Calcium is found naturally in dairy products, dark leafy greens and sardines. In addition, supplementing calcium by itself doesn’t actually help bone density significantly, even though that’s why most people take it.

Calcium works best with other nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium. The combination of all these forms a stack, which is when supplements work together towards a common goal.

So, in my opinion, the bottom line is, calcium deficiencies are rare, and can be easily fixed by slightly modifying your diet.

Fat Burning Supplements
You may have heard of fat burners – the magic pills that can make fat melt off your body, like ice in the Dubai heat, right? Not exactly.

Fat burners are supplements that are designed with ingredients that MAY give you an extra boost to help burn fat, but they can’t replace a solid diet and exercise plan.

Fat burners work in a variety of ways. They can boost energy, help curb appetite, promote fat to be used for energy, and even increase your metabolism and core temperature so you burn more calories throughout the day. But, if you take a fat burner and then feast on burgers, pizza, and bagels, you won’t be seeing fat loss any time soon.

Even the mildly effective fat burners (e.g. caffeine) don’t make THAT big of a difference. Fat burners are also likely to cause side effects like sleep disruption (since most of them are stimulants). That can backfire, since poor sleep can cause overeating the next day, high cortisol levels and reduced recovery, all of which can result in lack of motivation to head to the gym.

All of the these side effects negate any small benefit that fat burners may have. Bottom line: most fat burners don’t have a great cost to benefit ratio.

Testosterone Boosters
Having low testosterone is not fun – it can cause issues such as mental fog, irritability, lower libido, lack of body composition changes. So taking a testosterone booster may sound like a great idea. But unfortunately they simply do not work.

Supplement companies may tout studies showing their supplements increase testosterone. However, keep in mind – too many people think that libido and testosterone are the same. Some supplements marketed as testosterone boosters can actually help increase your libido, yet make no difference in your actual testosterone levels.

Glutamine
Glutamine is an essential amino acid that has many roles in your body. It’s found in muscle tissue, so meat products naturally have high levels of glutamine. Adding glutamine to muscle cells causes them to grow.

Unfortunately, supplementing glutamine does not work for muscle building, because little of the glutamine ingested makes it over to the muscles. The intestines absorb much of it for themselves, so supplementing glutamine is actually really good for your digestive tract, but it’s not going to drive your muscles to grow more.

It should be noted that whey protein is also high in glutamine, so if you eat meat products and drink whey, then you are good to go and can save your money.

Bottom line: supplementing glutamine for muscle building does not work, however it does work for improving gut health along with probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Whey Protein
The benefits if whey protein are in no way being questioned. Whey protein is a superior protein source that provides many health and body composition benefits. This is a true statement that I am not going to argue with. There’s loads of research supporting the benefits of whey protein and it would be crazy for me to try and deny that it improves insulin sensitivity, suppresses appetite, has a high thermic effect, builds muscle, reduces oxidative stress, etc.

So you may be asking the question, why have I included whey protein on my list of supplements that are not needed? Whey protein is often used as a substitute for whole foods, which can prevent optimal nutrition being achieved. This can result in a lack of macronutrients, micronutrients, inflammation, poor gut health, and decreased physical performance.

One of the most common issues we face is bad digestion. By this I mean for one reason or another your digestive system is not able to make the most of the foods you eat. One of the most common food groups that we are unable to optimally absorb is dairy and whey products.

Too often whey protein is used as a meal replacement, not as a supplement. Additionally, some brands contain cheap fillers, artificial flavors and added sugars, which again can cause absorption issues, poorly functioning gut and inflammation.

So, bottom line regarding whey protein is that despite the countless benefits, it should not be used as a replacement for whole foods. Until gut health is functioning effectively, absorption is a major issue and whey protein can make things worse. My advice is to start with whole foods and progress to protein shakes and drinks.

Good luck!

Motivation

My Weekly Update – 2 Weeks Out!

Here we are – 2 weeks to go! After a busy week at work and a few late nights, I’m glad to say the end is near.


Training

This week was full of long sets. Although still following the same weekly split, we changed a few exercises and added some drop sets and giant sets. This has really left me sore! And finally, after switching most of my steady cardio to the stair master machine this week, my has dropped to 10%. I was about 8% for my last comp, so still a bit to go.

Nutrition

Surprise! I’m still having rice & sweet potatoes 🙂 This is definitely a huge bonus as anyone who’s done comp prep knows. I think starting this comp prep at a fairly low body fat has helped ease the pressure on my diet and training. So far no extreme measures have been taken.

With only 15 days left, my motivation is renewed and I am much better able to deal with cravings. Of course, the occasional fresh salad always helps 😉

September 24th – let the countdown begin!

Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Compete Without Breaking the Bank?

In the last part of our Q&A series we look at the cost of participating in bodybuilding and fitness model competitions through federations, such as the IFBB and WBFF.

Our question comes from my friend & instagram follower @leanlioness : how do you do it without breaking the bank!?

What I have to say:

Competing is indeed costly, and unfortunately unlike other recognised sports (e.g. national & Olympic sports) getting financial support is extremely difficult. Most of the sponsorships offered by fitness & supplement companies are limited to free products and barely scratch the mountain of competition expenses.

Personally, I would recommend looking at competing as an investment in something you like, in your personal goal or or even in improving yourself! Just like you would save money for a dream holiday or education course, so you would need to plan & save money for a competition.

Of course, there are several ways you can reduce these costs, but you can’t eliminate them completely. Another thing to consider is the compromise between saving money & getting the results you want.

Most of the costly things (e.g. training, food & event beauty services) you can do yourself with the help of internet resources, however the experience may be much more stressful. Also having a mentor / coach with relevant experience who can guide you through the whole process is invaluable.

Your question is a good starting point and will helpfully hope anyone who is doing their research on competing. Below you will see a detailed breakdown on all the costs involved in competing and where you can save some money.

Answer from our expert, Lisa Maas, M.S. Nutrition, B.S. Exercise Science and US Women’s Figure competitor:

When I competed for the first time a few months ago, it was not until it got closer to the show that I realized how several little things added up. I already had a gym membership and was used to buying high quality foods, so these expenses were not new to me.

However, once I got further into the prep, I realized that costs added up for things like manicure, travel costs, solarium sessions to get a base tan, jewelry, make up
 the list goes on and on.

In hindsight, I know I could have saved much more money had I planned everything more thoroughly right from the beginning.

Now let me help you to get the most out of your prep and look amazing on stage without spending a fortune. Below is a breakdown on what you will have to spend money on and how to spend your money wisely to make everything as affordable as possible.

Some things are optional while others are not.

1.Coach

Even if you have a good training background or are working in the fitness industry yourself, having a coach is worth the investment.

Although you may be able to do this yourself, having someone that holds you accountable, pushes you, and guides you through the program makes the whole process much more effective and enjoyable. Most prep coaches offer 12-week programs and will design your training and nutrition plan.

You may find a coach that can help you with everything (nutrition, training, and posing) or you may need to find two or three individuals to help you.

Approx. cost: $100-$600 /month depending on which services are included

2.Posing

If you are new to competing you should invest in a few posing sessions and having a coach who helps you with this is worth the investment. You could also teach yourself with YouTube videos but this is not as easy as it sounds.

At the end it all comes down to how you present yourself on stage and if you are able to show your hard work. You can save money by signing up for group sessions or session packages.

Approx. cost: Private sessions: $60-$150 /hour; Group sessions: $25-$35 /hour

3.Food

If you are already eating pretty healthy and do your weekly meal prep you already have an estimate about the expenses for food. However, you will probably be eating more protein and more frequently throughout the day.

Food costs for you may go up or down depending on how you ate before. Consider looking into food companies that offer customized nutrition plans and weekly delivery. Pura, for instance, is one of the best companies, preparing meals exactly according to your macros. This may be a little more expensive but saves you a lot of time and energy.

Approx. cost: Doing your own meals: $320 /month; Using a meal prep company: $680 /month (*food costs vary depending on the country you live in)

4.Supplements

You don’t have to go crazy on supplements. If you don’t have any health issues or compromised gut function that would need extra support, sticking to the essentials such as protein powder and BCAAs may be sufficient.

Approx. cost: $50+

5.Gym Membership

You can skip the membership and get by with a squat rack, barbell and bench, dumbbells and a pull-up bar at home. Otherwise, gym memberships can range from

$45-$140 /month

6.Federation Membership Card

Different federations will have different membership fees. Most shows require you to be a member of their federation before you can register for a contest.

Approx. cost: $60-$120

7.Competition Suit

A new custom suit can start at $150 and can get up as high as you would like. If you could see yourself competing in several shows, investing in a custom suit is a great idea. You can use that suit for several shows and eventually resell it for 50-75% of your purchase price.

If you want to save, you can look for a used suit. You can get a beautiful used one for $120 and up. There are also a few sites where you can rent a suit instead of buying one. Another option is to buy an affordable plain suit and add the stones and bling yourself to offset the costs.

Approx. cost: $120+

8.Competition heels and jewelry

Clear competition heels can range from $40-$60 and jewelry comes down to about $50. You can also add rhinestones to your shoes yourself.

As for jewelry, you will need rhinestone bracelets on one or both wrists. If you compete in figure or bikini you will also need earrings.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

9.Show day makeup

Your makeup must be very dark and should also match your tan. If you buy your own, it will last for multiple shows.

Having a professional do it is a little more expensive but may be helpful at the first show.

Approx. cost: Professionally done: $50-$90; DIY: $80 (multiple shows)

10.Hair

You can definitely do this yourself or have a friend do your hair for you. When it comes to hair, having a professional do it at your first show may be less stressful, but also more expensive.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

11.Competition tan

Using the event tanner is definitely recommended as they will make sure you look amazing on stage (win-win situation). This is more expensive but recommended for the first show. DIY competition tanning products will last about three shows.

Approx. cost: DIY: $50-$80 (for three shows); event tanning service: $100+ (per show)

12.Hotel and Travel costs

This varies depending on how far you have to travel for your show. Competing in local shows keeps these costs affordable.

13.Competition Entry Fees

Costs are about $30-$50 per category entered. This varies from show to show.

Approx. cost: $50-$200, depending on how many categories you want to compete in

14.Manicure

You will have to make sure that your nails are in good shape. You can do it yourself or get a manicure. French manicures look good on stage but in general, color and length are up to you.

Approx. cost: $15-$80

15.Photography

The event photographer will usually offer packages for $60-$75 for all of the pictures they take of you during the show. If you enter more than one category, the photography package may be more expensive.

In addition most competitors schedule a 1 to 2-hour photo shoot the week of the show, which may cost $150+. This is totally worth it though!

Approx. cost: $60+

As you can see, there are ways to keep the competition expenses to a minimum. How much you ultimately decide to spend on each thing is up to you.

I recommend making a list before you start your contest prep in order to prioritize expenses. Hiring a coach and signing up for posing sessions should definitely be at the top of your list.

Don’t let money be the reason not to compete! There is always a way to make it work.

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Nutrition

Recipe: Banana Protein Pancakes

By Adrianna McDonald

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Simple, quick and easy to make. With just 3 ingredients, these pancakes are healthy and sweet with no sugar added.

They come together in a few minutes and make the perfect breakfast or sweet – tooth satisfying dessert.

The flavour will vary, depending on the flavour of your protein powder. I used organic chocolate powder (made with with cacao and stevia). The banana itself gives enough sweetness so no need for any extras.

If you like your pancakes fluffy add in some baking powder, however I prefer it simple and go by the “less is more” approach.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white

Toppings (optional) as in picture:

  • Splash of dark chocolate sauce
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of pistachios

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth and creamy
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat and melt a about Πteaspoon of butter or coconut oil into the pan.
  3. Pour the batter in the pan: Drop roughly 2 tablespoons of batter onto the hot griddle.
  4. Cook for 1 minute or until the bottom looks browned and golden when you lift a corner.
  5. Gently flip the pancakes and cook for another minute on the other side.
  6. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a serving plate and continue cooking the rest of the batter.

I managed to get 9 pancakes out of this recipe and it was perfectly satisfying. Talking about toppings, feel free to add whatever toppings you wish. Get creative 😉

 

Fitness

Workout of the Week: Triceps & Biceps

Women shouldn’t workout arms? Said who? If you want to be in the best shape ever, you can’t leave a single body part behind!

 

  1. Single Arm Cable Tricep Extension – 3 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs up (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull down, 2secs squeeze.
  2. Superset:
    1. Barbell Tricep Press – 4 sets x8-10 reps; tempo: 4secs down, 2secs pause, 4secs up, 1sec pause.
    2. Overhead Tricep Rope Extension – 4 sets x10-12 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 3secs pause at the bottom, explosive pull up, 1sec pause.
  3. Standing Rope Pulldown – 3 sets x15-20 reps; tempo: 2secs up (release), 1sec pause, 2secs down, 2secs squeeze.
  4. Machine Preacher Curl (last set is drop set) – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 1sec pause, explode up, 3secs (squeeze).
  5. Superset:
    1. Standing Hammer Curl – 3 sets x20 reps; tempo: 2secs up, 1sec pause, 2secs down, 1sec pause.
    2. Rope Bicep Curl with External Supination – 3 sets x8-10 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 1sec pause, explode up, 3secs squeeze.
Motivation

Beginner’s Guide Part 3: Understanding Individual Strength Differences

 

By Elliott Speed

A gym can be a very daunting place. There are many people that are intimidated by the thought of the gym. Even I, like most others, have been in this position.

The notion of not knowing what exercises to do and how to do them, especially with the new state-of-the-art equipment is enough to prevent people from entering a gym.

Once in a gym it is very difficult to keep your eyes off those around you, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others which can very often hinder your results. This also applies to social media.

Today social media is the most popular form of contact for the majority of people. It is also one of the main sources for people to educate themselves and give an insight into their lives.

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In the fitness industry social media is the main source of advertisement for both athletes and companies. This has a very detrimental effect on those looking to start their fitness journey as most of the well known fitness athletes are in incredible shape. This makes many people feel self conscious.

Apart from body shape, strength is one of the main things people compare in a gym. Looking around to see how much others are lifting and comparing that to our own strength abilities is a common thought process and this can make us feel weak and unfit.

Yet, it is important to keep in mind that strength is very dependent on your goals. If you want to be a powerlifter then yes, strength is an important factor for you. But if your goals are building muscle or toning then strength is not so vital.

In the beginning, it is important to teach your body how to contract a muscle throughout each repetition on every exercise. Lifting the weight through a controlled movement for a full range of motion is much more beneficial than picking a weight above your ability and throwing it around with improper form. This is also a good way to injure yourself.

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But there are more reasons why  you should not to compare yourself to others in the gym:

1. The people you are comparing yourself with are usually complete strangers, meaning you do not know their background. These people may have an extensive sporting background, which has allowed them to become stronger and more coordinated over a  period of time.

2. It is impossible to know how they train. They may not have a 9-5 job or a family and kids, meaning they may train numerous times throughout the day.

3. They may have a fitness coach. Training and diet programmes are extremely important for achieving results, meaning a person will progressively become stronger over long periods of time – after all consistency is key!

4. People progress at different rates. Everyone is unique – each individual has their strengths and weaknesses.

In my opinion it is important to acknowledge this last point and the need to work at improving your weaknesses. Many people also fall into the trap of training the body parts they are strongest in and those parts where they have previously got the fastest results from training.

Don’t let it discourage you if you see someone doing your heaviest squat for several reps – it takes time and you must be patient. Work hard at turning your weaknesses into strengths and one day your heaviest weight now will be your warm up!

Do not always compare yourself to others. When it comes to training you must be extremely focused on yourself. Only concentrate on your improvements and never feel inadequate training next to someone else.

Your fitness journey is extremely personal and everyone at one time or another was at the beginning of their journey, exactly the same as you. It is true that some have a natural ability to improve and become stronger at a faster rate, however nothing beats hard work and in time you will become stronger.
Motivation

My Weekly Update – 3 Weeks Out!

Here we are at the end of the 4th week before my comp… 3 more weekends and then it’s show time!

Training

Things have remained largely unchanged from last week. I still do weight training 6 days a week and on the 7th day I do 40 mins steady cardio. My workouts usually involve about 6 exercises with light to medium weights or sometimes even bodyweight. The focus is more on the contraction of the muscles. I see a lot more definition as my body gets more toned – check out my triceps  below!

My weight & body composition have remained more or less stable. Anyways the hour or so in the gym is the easy part! Now let’s talk about food…

Nutrition

There have been no changes to my diet this week. This can be a good and a bad thing. THe good part is that I still do have carbs (rice & sweet potato). The bad part is that I started getting bored with my food. I’m sure anyone on comp prep or a transformation journey can understand – there is only so much chicken and broccoli that you can eat 😀

So this boredom has inspired me to look for alternative ways to spice up my food. Some have been more successful than others. What I would like to share with you this week is my discovery of veggie chips / crisps.

There’s quite a few options out there, but I personally liked the broccoli crisps. I also tried some raw spinach & pumpkin crunchies and dried kale chips. They definitely make veggies more attractive, however do be mindful that some may be high in fat (if fried) or salty flavourings.

 

Lifestyle / The Mind Game

Once again, I’m continued to be blessed with a pretty average week at work. Although the intensity is building up, I’m not working flat out… yet!

Mentally I went through a dip this week. I began to question why I was doing this – so much effort just to be judged on stage for a few minutes by people who did not see me sweat or eat salmon at 6am (when all I wanted was a bowl of muesli 😩 ).

But then again, I am not a quitter. I set this personal goal and I surpassed my expectations during my first comp. It only seemed right to accept this invitation to step on an even bigger stage and face even fiercer competitors.

Of course, having someone to talk to is key. Talking to my coach made me realize that I am not the only one who struggles. So with the right support, I know I can face this challenge head on.

Like they say, you never know your limits unless you push yourself to them…

Fitness, Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Get Leaner Thighs?

It’s Thursday once again and time to answer another one of your questions 🙂

Question from @hana_mkb: How can I reduce the size of my thighs? I do follow a healthy diet + I walk every morning (brisk walking). I lost so much weight but my thighs are stubborn. What is the solution? And will having them for so many years will leave them loose and flabby after losing weight?

And this time the answer will be from Mark Doherty, personal trainer and performance nutritionist:

Hi there,

Thank you for your question. In my 20 years of working in the fitness industry this is one very common area I often get asked about from many females. Having stubborn fat can be very frustrating for anyone and it can be easy to blame genetics or hormones which may not be the case in most instances. It may merely be that the correct training and nutritional protocols are not being applied, and on a consistent basis for a long enough period of time.

So firstly let’s talk about training. The fastest way to change the shape of your body and boost your metabolic rate is to incorporate resistance training into your routine. Yes, that’s right it’s time to hit those weights, and I can promise you, you will not get bulky.

Let’s look at bikini competitors – it’s imperative that these ladies have nicely shaped legs and low body fat levels. They achieve this by training their legs anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week using resistance based movements. Exercises such as squats, leg presses, leg curls, stiff legged deadlift and lunges are crucial to this process.

If you are not currently doing this, it is really important you find a trainer that can take you through these exercises and help design a program catered towards your needs.

Secondly we need to ensure that your nutritional needs are being met to ensure fat loss and also to maintain lean muscle tissue. The most common error females make is dropping their calories way too low and doing way too much cardio.

My top tips for a fat loss diet are:

  • Create a calorie deficit (only a 5 to 10% deficit to start with)
  • Keep your protein consumption at 1gram of protein per pound of lean body mass
  • 90% of your diet should include one-ingredient, wholesome foods
  • Some people prefer carbohydrates and while others prefer fats. Find out what works best for you with the help of a certified nutritionist.
  • Ensure the plan is sustainable and fits into your lifestyle

One final point to take into consideration is that some females, even with the perfect diet and training program, may still struggle with fat loss in their leg/hip region. This may be due to an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. In the past for these clients I have successfully used the supplement DIM (100mg per day). DIM has potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the body’s estrogen levels relatively balanced.

I hope you found the above information helpful. Please feel free to contact us at Pinnacle Performance for a bespoke plan that is individualized to your needs.

Fitness

The Best Exercises to Activate Your Glutes

By Adrianna McDonald

There is a misconception that squats are a girl’s best friend when it comes to booty development. The truth is that squats are a multi-joint exercise and work the whole leg including the glutes but they shouldn’t be your primary glute exercise.

The glutes are a large muscle group and respond well to volume (high rep) training, so it would be wise to train these muscles specifically 2-3 times a week. The key is to add a variety of glute exercises and use body weight variation with progression to heavier weighted exercises.

The most important factor is to be able to contract the muscle and feel the burn in the right place with every repetition. Proper movement is crucial in getting the desired result. Don’t forget about changing the angle and the exercise position i.e horizontal, vertical, prone or supine. Below is the list of specific strengthening exercises, which in my opinion do wonders for glutes development:

  • Hip Thrust & Bridges

This is a far more superior exercise to squats or deadlifts when it comes to the glutes. There are different variations to this exercise and the more you do, the better. You can start with glute bridges if you haven’t tried the hip thrust yet and progress to single leg bridges, and then onto a weighted bridge (band, plate, barbell) and finally to a hip thrust using a step or bench. Some gyms are better equipped than others and you may even find specific hip thrust machine.

  • Kick backs

These are my favorite. In this exercise you can really feel your butt working and completely exclude the legs. The pure glute isolation lets you completely focus on form and quality. It has many variations from bodyweight, ankle weighted to cable and glute machine kickbacks. Make sure you use them all! (not in one workout though ;-))

  • Back extensions

This may be a new thing for you if you only performed this exercise to target your lower back. But trust me, this exercise can set your glutes on fire! It’s a very efficient way to increase metabolic stress and time under tension for the glutes. Just focus on engaging (a.k.a squeezing) the glutes. The load comes from front-to-back and it incorporates the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes.

  • High step up

To recruit the glutes and hamstrings you have to place the majority of your weight on the to heel of your foot. At first try to master the eccentric (going down) phase of the exercise, taking at least 3 seconds to lower from the top to the bottom of the exercise.

Doing step-ups from a high box with the weight shifted to the heel is going to target your hamstrings and glutes more. The increased range of motion slows you down and provides more strength and stability benefits. But remember, just like with any exercise, you need to apply the principle of variations to your training to prevent plateaus. Start step-ups with your own body weight and increase the height before increasing the weight.

  • Reverse hyperextensions

Even though the reverse hyperextension is a bodyweight exercise, you still have the ability to increase the resistance by using ankle weights, a pendulum machine or holding a dumbbell or medicine ball between your feet. Remember: before you add any resistance, make sure you master your form.

To have a great feel of gluteal contraction this exercise has to be performed without flexing or extending the lumbar spine (your lower back). Reverse hypers have an extreme eccentric component if you perform the exercise correctly and stop the pendulum from pulling your lower back into flexion. With proper technique the glutes will contract very hard at the top of these movements at end-range hip extension.

As one of my favorite coaches says:

“Squats and lunges are the kings of quad exercises; deadlifts and good mornings are the kings of erector spinae exercises; hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are the kings of glute exercises; and weighted back extensions and glute ham raises are the kings of hamstring exercises.” – by Bret Contreras