Arguably the king of all weight training exercises, the barbell back squat is a compound movement that primarily targets the quads, glutes and core.
Set up with the barbell sitting on your traps (the muscly part of your upper back/neck). Have a firm grip of the barbell, with your hands just outside shoulder width. Set up with your feet just outside of hip width, with the feet slightly turned out. To begin, set the bum back slightly, and squat straight down with the knees tracking over the toes. As you stand up, keep your chest up and extend your hips at the top (squeeze your bum!). Remember to breathe in and brace your core before you squat, breathe out on the way up.
*If you are a beginner with limited ROM, try raising your heels a few inches (stand with heels on a weight plate). This will increase your ankle flexibility and allow you to squat down lower whilst maintaining a neutral spine.
Giving the back squat a run for its money, the barbell deadlift is regarded as one of the primary exercises for building strength. Though primarily targeting the glutes, hamstrings and lats, this compound movement strengthens the entire posterior chain. Whether you are a beginner or a world class powerlifter, the barbell deadlift should be a staple in your training program.
To begin, set up with your feet at hip width apart, with the barbell resting against your shins (or slightly off). With straight arms, hinge over, and bend your knees until you can grip the barbell. Before lifting, brace your core, squeezing your abs and pulling back with your lats so there is lots of tension in your body. Once fully braced, stand up by extending your knees and hips whilst keeping your chest tall. Squeeze your bum at the top. Lower the barbell back down to the floor with control and repeat.
*Keeping your legs straighter will target the hamstrings even more.
A primary exercise for building strong shoulders, the military press primarily targets the anterior and middle deltoids, and triceps. As this movement is performed whilst standing, it requires a high level of core stability.
With the barbell sitting in the front rack (on the shoulders), grip the barbell with hands just outside shoulder width apart. Press the barbell straight up until locked out overhead. It is important to set your core tight before pressing, ensuring you do not lean back or arch your lower back at all throughout the movement.
*If you are a beginner, performing this movement whilst seated can reduce the amount of core stability required.
Similar to a bent over row, the Pendlay row is a great exercise for building a strong back. The Pendlay row targets the entire back, with the lats, rhomboids, traps and rear deltoids all working hard.
The movement is performed with the body in a hinge position, with the knees slightly bent and the chest parallel with the floor. It is important to maintain a neutral spine with the core braced. With the arms straight down, pull back with your elbows, retracting the shoulders and scapular, squeezing the lats. Hold the top of the movement for a split second, then control back down to the floor and repeat. The movement begins and ends in the same position, with the barbell on the floor.
*changing to a reverse grip will slightly change the target areas. We suggest mixing it up with grip position and widths every now and then to change the exercise stimulus.
The Glute bridge is one of the best, if not the best exercise for isolating and strengthening the glutes, making it a must have in your leg day routine.
To set up, sit on the floor with bent knees, barbell in your hip crease and your upper back on a bench. From there, lean back and extend your hips with one explosive hip thrust. Make sure you squeeze your bum at the top, to ensure the glutes are working. With control, come back to the starting position, or hover just off the floor before completing the next rep.
*It is helpful to have a mat or some form of padding to place in your hip crease between you and the barbell.
*Think about digging your feet into the ground and pulling your heels to your bum, this will help activate your glutes and hamstrings.
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