Fitness tip: Your legs will love this lift
For the Health of It
A variation of our last exercise covered, the dead lift, is the stiff legged dead lift. This is another in the list of exercises that basically hit the entire body while focusing on the legs. As with all fitness training your form is especially important with this movement since in addition to your hamstrings, gluteus maximus and your calves, the lower back is also one of the prime movers, and can be easily injured.
Start out with a five minute warm up on a bike or treadmill to loosen the leg muscles. Stretch your hamstrings and lower back either by sitting on the floor, or standing and touching your toes. Whenever you are stretching go into the stretch slowly until you reach the point where you can just start to feel it in your legs. You should never feel any pain during any stretch; if you do you’re pushing too hard and you need to back off slightly. Once you have done this you are ready to begin the exercise.
Stand in front of a bar with your legs about shoulder width apart. Bend your knees to bring your body down to the floor, pick up the bar and stand up pushing with your legs, not your back. Standing straight with your shoulders back, and your back remaining straight with all three parts of your spine in alignment (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar), begin to bend at the waste toward the floor with your legs straight and keeping what I like to call a soft joint in your knees (a very slight bend).
Go down toward the ground only as far as you feel comfortable! This exercise is what I call a sleeper in that you don’t feel much at the time so you tend to push too hard or add more weight to the bar. Don’t! Believe me you will feel it in the next few days, so take it easy until you have done this a few times.
You can also perform this exercise with dumbbells using the same motions; just let the dumbbells follow your legs on the up and downward motions. As with every training session when you complete your workout stretch the muscles worked for about 15 minutes. Stretching before you train helps loosen the muscles to prevent injury. Stretching afterwards will help you from getting too sore. Try stretching immediately following your session, and then continue to do so for the next few days as often as you can. The more you stretch the better you are going to feel.
Have fun trying your new exercises, and combined with a sensible eating program and your cardiovascular training you will be ready for the Iron Man in no time. Just kidding, but you will start to feel great with better overall energy, concentration levels and sleeping patterns. Stay hydrated!
Henry Kliebenstein is an International Sports Sciences Association certified personal trainer, fitness therapist, and specialist in performance nutrition, training in his private studio in Truckee, and can be reached by calling 587-3886 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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