Squats and deadlifts are the meat and potatoes of a good lower body training day. Whenever you can combine the movements in one routine, you'll have a winner—especially if you think outside the box and don't just spend your entire session in the rack with a barbell.
This juicy three movement workout that celebrity trainer Don Saladino, NASM recently highlighted on Instagram, for example, uses the barbell for front squats, then mixes things up with dumbbell deadlifts and bodyweight Bulgarian split squats. Give it a try the next time you feel like you've spent your whole leg day stuck in one place.
For the front squat, you’ll notice that Saladino takes a cross-arm or bodybuilder position rather than gripping the bar with his hands in a clean position. This is a great option for folks with limited wrist and shoulder mobility. Just know that it may not feel as stable—especially for folks who struggle to keep their chests upright on the descent. So if this grip is new to you, load up slowly. For more tips on how to pick your grip, check out this guide. Try 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
Next up is a posterior chain crusher: the dumbbell Romanian deadlift. With dumbbells in hand, feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knee, hinge at your hips to push your butt back. Lower your torso down, keeping the weights close to your legs until your mid-calf or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings—whichever comes first. Take a note from Saladino and keep a neutral neck position, focusing on a spot on the ground. Then, explode back to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the top of the rep. Go for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Finish up the circuit with an unweighted (though still challenging) Bulgarian split squat. This unilateral exercise will strengthen your entire lower body, including your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. And just like other unilateral moves, you'll be honing your mobility and athleticism, too.
Set up a box or bench that’s knee height or lower. Get into a front lunge position with a vertical front shin, with your rear foot elevated behind you. Brace your core, and keeping hips square to your body, bend your front leg. Descend until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Press through your front foot to return to standing. Finish up with 3 sets of 15 reps per leg.
Want to try out more exercises and workouts from Saladino? Check out his Men's Health Superhero Shred program, which is designed with the same principles he uses to get his star clients in shape. You can also find Saladino's program, alongside a ton of other fitness content, on our new All Out Studio streaming app.
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