Get Sculpted Legs

With Combination Exercises

By Nick Tumminello

In order to ensure your lower body resistance training workouts are truly comprehensive, you not only want to do lower body exercises that primarily involve movement at the hip joint (e.g., deadlifts), but you also want to include lower body exercises that emphasize movement at the knee joint (e.g., squats and lunges), otherwise known as leg-oriented exercises. The four lower body exercises provided in this article combine hip-oriented exercise and a leg-oriented exercise into one single, super effective combination exercise.

Let’s face it— we are all busy these days. Even the most dedicated exerciser is concerned with maximizing their time in the gym. Combination exercises, like the four lower body combo moves provided in this article, are not only a great way to get more done in less time, but they are also a great way to boost the metabolic effect of your workouts, since the metabolic cost of a given exercise relates directly to the amount of muscle worked.

In other words, as long as you bring the intensity by using challenging loads, these combination exercises require the exerciser to expend more energy because they require more muscles to work. Not to mention, these five combination exercises are a great way to spice up your workouts and give your muscles a new challenge that can spark new gains.

Get Sculpted Legs With Combination Exercises - Dumbbell Squat + Romanian Deadlift Combo

Dumbbell Squat + Romanian Deadlift Combo

Set-up: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides.

Action: Perform the squat by bending at your knees and hips and lower your body toward the floor as low as you can possibly go. Once you’ve gone as deep as you can without losing the arch in your lower back, reverse the motion and stand up. Move the dumbbells in front of your thighs to perform the RDL, and while keeping your back straight, hinge at your hips and bend forward toward the floor, keeping your knees bent at a 15- to 20-degree angle. Once your torso is roughly parallel to the floor, drive your hips forward toward the dumbbells reversing the motion to stand tall again and complete one rep. Perform two to four sets of eight to 12 reps.

Coaching tips:
• As you hinge forward, drive your hips backward and do not allow your back to round out.
• Do not allow your knees to move inward toward the midline of your body. Keep your knees in line with your toes throughout.

Get Sculpted Legs With Combination Exercises - Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat + Single-leg Romanian Deadlift Combo

Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat + Single-leg Romanian Deadlift Combo

Set-up: Stand tall holding dumbbells by your sides. Place your left foot on top of a bench or chair behind you in a split-squat stance.

Action: Perform the Bulgarian split squat portion by lowering your body toward the floor while keeping your back straight and your torso leaning forward at about a approximately 45-degree angle. Reverse the motion by driving your heel into the ground to raise your body back up to the starting position. Then, perform the single-leg Romanian deadlift portion by keeping your back straight and hinging at your hips and lowering your torso forward toward the floor, keeping your front knee bent at roughly a 15- to 20-degree angle. Once your torso is roughly parallel to the floor, reverse the motion to stand tall again and complete the rep. Perform all repetitions on the same side before switching sides. Perform seven to 10 reps on each side.

Coaching Tips:
• Keep your weight on your front foot throughout the exercise.
• Do not allow your back to round out at any point.

Get Sculpted Legs With Combination Exercises - Dumbbell Reverse Lunge + Anterior Lunge Combo

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge + Anterior Lunge Combo

Set-up: Stand tall holding dumbbells by your sides with your feet hip-width apart.

Action: Perform the anterior lunge portion by stepping forward with one leg, keeping your front knee bent 15 to 20 degrees and your back knee straight or slightly bent. As your front foot hits the ground, lean forward by hinging at your hips and allowing your rear heel to come off the ground. Your torso should be no more than parallel to the floor and your back should be straight. Reverse the motion by stepping backward so your feet are together again and you return to an upright position. Then perform the same motion stepping forward with the other leg. Once you’ve performed one rep on each leg, perform the reverse lunge by stepping your leg backward, placing the balls of your foot on the floor while you simultaneously bend both your knees and lower your body down into a lunge. As your knees bend, hinge forward slightly at your hips, allowing your torso to lean slightly forward. Once your back knee lightly touches the floor, reverse the motion by stepping back up, bringing your feet back in parallel with one another. Perform the same motion by stepping back with your other leg. Once you’ve performed one rep on both legs, repeat the sequence, beginning with the anterior lunge. Alternate legs on each rep. Perform eight to 12 reps on each side.

Coaching tips:
• One rep = anterior lunge left, anterior lunge right, reverse lunge left, reverse lunge right.
• Do not let the dumbbells touch the floor at any point during this exercise.
• Do not allow your back to round out at the bottom of each lunge.

Get Sculpted Legs With Combination Exercises -  Dumbbell Reverse Lunge + Single-leg Romanian Deadlift Combo

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge + Single-leg Romanian Deadlift Combo

Set-up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart while holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.

Action: Step your leg backward, placing the balls of your feet on the floor while you simultaneously bend both your knees and lower your body down into a reverse lunge. As your knees bend, hinge forward at your hips, allowing your torso to lean slightly forward. Once your back knee lightly touches the floor, reverse the motion by stepping back up, bringing your feet back in parallel with one another. Perform the same motion by stepping back with your other leg. Then, perform the single-leg Romanian deadlift by lifting one leg slightly off the ground and hinging at your hips while bending forward toward the floor, keeping your back straight and weight-bearing knee bent at roughly a 15- to 20-degree angle. As you hinge, allow your non-weight-bearing leg to elevate so that it remains in a straight line with your torso. Once your torso and non-weight-bearing leg are roughly parallel to the floor, reverse the motion by driving your hips forward. Perform the same motion while balancing on the other leg. Once you’ve performed one rep on both legs, repeat the sequence beginning with the reverse lunge. Alternate legs on each rep. Perform eight to 12 reps on each side.

Coaching tips:
• One rep = reverse lunge left, reverse lunge right, single-leg Romanian deadlift left, single-leg Romanian deadlift right.
• Keep your back straight as you hinge at your hips and lean your torso forward to better recruit the glute musculature and make the exercise more knee friendly.
• At the bottom position of the single-leg RDL (when your torso is roughly parallel to the ground), keep your hips and shoulders flat and do not allow them to rotate.

Using These Exercises

It’s important to note that these exercise applications are not designed to replace proven knee or hip-oriented exercises such as barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, etc. Instead, they are intended to be a complement to these exercises. Therefore, it’s recommend you sprinkle in one or two of these combination exercises, and use them along with conventional lower body strength training exercises.

References:
Ratamess NA, et al. Comparison of the acute metabolic responses to traditional resistance, body-weight, and battling rope exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Jan;29(1):47-57.

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