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Short Circuits, Part 6: Thighs



Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By Mike Berg | Dec 22, 2008



You can build quads and hamstrings as thick as tree trunks'"and chop down your workout time in the process. These four thigh-focused circuit-training workouts will deliver results in 20 minutes.

There are plenty of complicated things you can accomplish if you have 20 minutes to spare. You can cook a healthy dinner. You can balance your checkbook. You can even clear off last night's Daily Show from your TiVo (watch segment one and two, skip the interview). But every bodybuilder worth his weight in protein powder

Or can you? The prevailing theory is that the major muscles of the thigh '" the quadriceps on the front of the leg, and the hamstrings on the back '" are just too big and tough to break down from a mere one-third hour of heavy lifting.

But we're here to argue otherwise. If you're focused, and you have a plan of attack that targets the key areas intensely and with a suitable number of reps, we say you can make major progress on your leg development, even if you're short on time. The following for circuit-based workouts are each designed with that goal in mind.

You'll just need a few guidelines to get started. To complete the routines quickly, you'll want to employ a two-seconds-up/one-second-squeeze-at-the-top/three-seconds-down cadence for every rep, and rest no more than one minute between circuits. Within circuits, the only break between each exercise is the brief period it takes to switch positions and/or weights for the next movement.

The only downside of using these workouts is that you may need to add an item to that overstuffed to-do list '" finding a good tailor to let out all your pant legs.

knows you can't get a great, effective thigh workout in 20 minutes.

Workout Circuit #1: Dumbbells

Exercise Reps
Dumbbell Squat 15, 12, 10, 8
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 10, 10, 8, 8
Lying Dumbbell Leg Curl 10, 10, 10, 10
Dumbbell Walking Lunge 10, 10, 10, 10
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.
The math: 161 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 966 seconds, or about 16 minutes; plus one minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: This regimen is excellent for home trainers who may have nothing but an adjustable pair of dumbbells and a flat bench at their disposal. To do the lying dumbbell curl, lie on your stomach on a flat bench, with your knees at the edge of the bench. Hold a dumbbell between your feet, with the inside flat edge of the top weight against the bottom of your feet, and curl it toward your glutes.;

Workout #2: Barbells

Exercise Reps
Barbell Squat 15, 12, 10, 8
Traditional Deadlift 12, 10, 8, 8
Barbell Step-Up 12, 10, 8, 8
Romanian Deadlift 12, 10, 8, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through. Use a very light weight for a warm-up on your first set of the first two exercises.
The math: 159 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 954 seconds, or about 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between each circuit, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: This regimen, which can also be done at home if you have a barbell and a step-up platform, can be extremely difficult, especially if you push yourself (as you should) using heavy, challenging weights. If you don't have a squat rack, you can perform barbell hack squats instead of standard on-the-shoulder squats as your first exercise. For this variation, hold the barbell behind you at glute level and squat, thus bringing the bar down toward the floor, then return to a standing position and repeat.

Workout #3: Machines

Exercise Reps
Smith-Machine Squat 15, 12, 10, 8
Leg Press 12, 10, 8, 8
Leg Extension 12, 10, 8, 8
Seated Leg Curl 12, 10, 10, 8
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.
The math: 161 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 966 seconds, or approximately 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: If the gym is crowded, it may be wise to divide this workout into two supersets, so you don't have to monopolize so many pieces of equipment. Usually, the Smith machines are near the leg presses, and the extension machines are next to the hamstring curl stations. If you do this, the workout will likely take closer to 25 minutes because of the increase in the number of rest periods required (as you will rest a minute between each superset).

Workout #4: Free Weights & Machines

Exercise Reps
Leg Extension 12, 10, 10, 8
Seated Leg Curl 10, 10, 10, 8
Barbell Squat 12, 10, 10, 8
Sissy Squat 10, 10, 10, 10
Instructions: Repeat the circuit four times through.
The math: 158 total reps at 6 seconds per rep = 948 seconds, or about 16 minutes; plus 1 minute rest between the first and second, second and third and third and fourth circuits, totals about 19 minutes, leaving 1 minute for switching from exercise to exercise within the circuits.
Note: This workout takes advantage of the pre-exhaust principle. That's why extension and curls come first: Hitting your quads and hamstrings with an isolation exercise before barbell squats may mean you can't handle as much weight on the squat, but each rep will demand that much more of your slightly fatigued thighs to complete. To do a sissy squat, grasp a structure (such as an anchored machine) with one arm and rise up onto your toes to start. From there, bend your knees and let them extend out in front of you, leaning backward as your body descends. At the bottom, push through your toes while at the same time shifting your hips forward and up. To add difficulty, you can hold a weight plate to your chest with your free arm.







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Disclaimer: The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.





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