MondayChest & Cardio
To begin, first set the bar on the height that best matches your height. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded, step under the bar and place the back of your shoulders (slightly below the neck) across it.
Hold on to the bar using both arms at each side (palms facing forward), unlock it and lift it off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso.
Position your legs using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Keep your head up at all times and also maintain a straight back. This will be your starting position. (Note: For the purposes of this discussion we will use the medium stance which targets overall development; however you can choose any of the three stances discussed in the foot stances section).
Begin to slowly lower the bar by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees (which is the point in which the upper legs are below parallel to the floor). Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: If you performed the exercise correctly, the front of the knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that is perpendicular to the front. If your knees are past that imaginary line (if they are past your toes) then you are placing undue stress on the knee and the exercise has been performed incorrectly.
Begin to raise the bar as you exhale by pushing the floor with the heel of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.
Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Caution: This is not an exercise to be taken lightly. If you have back issues, substitute it with leg presses instead. If you have a healthy back, ensure perfect form and never slouch the back forward as this can cause back injury. Be cautious as well with the weight used; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more. The squat is a very safe exercise but only if performed properly.
Variations: As previously mentioned, there are various stances that can be used depending on what you want to emphasize.
Angled Leg Press
Using a leg press machine, sit down on the machine and place your legs on the platform directly in front of you at a medium (shoulder width) foot stance. (Note: For the purposes of this discussion we will use the medium stance described above which targets overall development; however you can choose any of the three stances described in the foot positioning section).
Lower the safety bars holding the weighted platform in place and press the platform all the way up until your legs are fully extended in front of you. Tip: Make sure that you do not lock your knees. Your torso and the legs should make a perfect 90-degree angle. This will be your starting position.
As you inhale, slowly lower the platform until your upper and lower legs make a 90-degree angle.
Pushing mainly with the heels of your feet and using the quadriceps go back to the starting position as you exhale.
Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and ensure to lock the safety pins properly once you are done. You do not want that platform falling on you fully loaded.
Caution: Always check to make sure that when you re-rack the weight the platform is securely locked.
Variations: All foot stance variations described in the foot stance section.
Stand with your torso upright holding two dumbbells in your hands by your sides. This will be your starting position.
Step forward with your right leg around 2 feet or so from the foot being left stationary behind and lower your upper body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Inhale as you go down.
Note: As in the other exercises, do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint. Make sure that you keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.
Using mainly the heel of your foot, push up and go back to the starting position as you exhale.
Repeat the movement for the recommended amount of repetitions and then perform with the left leg.
Caution: This is a movement that requires a great deal of balance so if you suffer from balance problems you may wish to either avoid it or just use your own bodyweight while holding on to a fixed object. Definitely never perform with a barbell on your back if you suffer from balance issues.
Variations: There are several ways to perform the exercise.
One way is to alternate each leg. For instance do one repetition with the right, then the left, then the right and so on.
The other way is to do what I call a static lunge where your starting position is with one of your feet already forward. In this case, you just go up and down from that starting position until you are done with the recommended amount of repetitions. Then you switch legs and do the same.
A more challenging version is the walking lunges where you walk across the room but in a lunging fashion. For walking lunges the leg being left back has to be brought forward after the lunging action has happened in order to continue moving ahead. This version is reserved for the most advanced athletes.
Lunges can be performed with dumbbells as described above or with a barbell on the back, though the barbell variety is better suited for the advanced athletes who have mastered the exercise and no longer have balance issues.
For this exercise you will need to use a leg extension machine. First choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad (feet pointed forward) and the hands holding the side bars. This will be your starting position. Tip: You will need to adjust the pad so that it falls on top of your lower leg (just above your feet). Also, make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg. If the angle is less than 90-degrees then that means the knee is over the toes which in turn creates undue stress at the knee joint. If the machine is designed that way, either look for another machine or just make sure that when you start executing the exercise you stop going down once you hit the 90-degree angle.
Using your quadriceps, extend your legs to the maximum as you exhale. Ensure that the rest of the body remains stationary on the seat. Pause a second on the contracted position.
Slowly lower the weight back to the original position as you inhale, ensuring that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit.
Repeat for the recommended amount of times.
Variations: As mentioned at in the foot positioning section, you can use various foot positions in order to maximize stimulation of certain thigh areas. Also, you can perform the movement unilaterally (one leg at a time).
Adjust the machine lever to fit your height and sit on the machine with your back against the back support pad.
Place the back of lower leg on top of padded lever (just a few inches under the calves) and secure the lap pad against your thighs, just above the knees. Then grasp the side handles on the machine as you point your toes straight (or you can also use any of the other two stances) and ensure that the legs are fully straight right in front of you. This will be your starting position.
As you exhale, pull the machine lever as far as possible to the back of your thighs by flexing at the knees.
Keep your torso stationary at all times. Hold the contracted position for a second.
Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Caution: Do not ever use so much weight on the exercise that you start using swinging and jerking as you can risk both lower back injury and also a hamstring tear.
Variations: Since you have three foot positions you have in reality three exercises.
Barbell Straight Leg Deadlift
Stand in front of a loaded barbell.
While keeping the back as straight as possible, bend your knees, bend forward and grasp the bar using a medium (shoulder width) overhand grip. This will be the starting position of the exercise. Tip: If it is difficult to hold on to the bar with this grip, alternate your grip or use wrist straps.
While holding the bar, start the lift by pushing with your legs while simultaneously getting your torso to the upright position as you breathe out. In the upright position, stick your chest out and contract the back by bringing the shoulder blades back. Think of how the soldiers in the military look when they are in standing in attention.
Go back to the starting position by bending at the knees while simultaneously leaning the torso forward at the waist while keeping the back straight. When the weights on the bar touch the floor you are back at the starting position and ready to perform another repetition.
Perform the amount of repetitions prescribed in the program.
This is not an exercise to be taken lightly. If you have back issues, substitute it for a rowing motion instead.
If you have a healthy back, ensure perfect form and never round the back as this can cause back injury. Be cautious as well with the weight used; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more.
Variations: Dumbbells can be used as well though I find the bar version easier to perform.