Guys, sometimes you plateau on major lifts like the squat, it happens. Most of the time it's because you've been hitting the same exercises over and over again and your body's adjusted to that stimulus. So with this post, I'm going to give you my 3 favorite assistance exercises to strengthen, balance, and make your legs indestructible.
1. The Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise is by far my favorite assistance exercise. This not only works your quads, but it's a major glute builder and a huge stabilizer. In order to do this correctly you have to have one leg elevated on a bench, as seen in the first picture. You have to have a wide stance to make sure your knee tracks properly over your foot, and then make sure that your torso stays upright no matter what. I advise starting with your own body weight first, then as you get used to that, I suggest adding dumbbells (as seen in the picture). You can even use a barbell on your back, the options are endless. I like to program for myself, and my clients, usually 3-5 sets (depending on training age) and about 8-15 reps to get an insane leg pump. Try these out for yourself after your main squat regimen and watch the gains happen!
2. The Wall Sit
This exercise is a sleeper, no one really uses it, but the benefits are tremendous. Isometrics are my personal favorite because they build strength, stability, while also being low-weight bearing, and low eccentric (less tearing of muscles). In the case of the wall-sit, it builds the patella tendon to be indestructible, strengthens the legs, and can even help with sticking points depending on where you choose to sit in your wall-sit. If you want to challenge yourself I suggest adding weight to it by placing plates on your legs, or you can even do it single leg (these are hella hard).
Depending on my client, or myself, I usually make it between 30 seconds-1 minute and do it after a hard leg workout as a finisher.
3. The Glute/ Hamstring Developer
I'll be totally honest with you, my posterior chain is not as strong as my quads (shoutout to Olympic weightlifting), so I've been throwing these in recently and my hamstrings are loving it! If done right you, will build some strong glutes and hamstrings, no doubt about it. Just make sure that on the descent of the GHD, you push through your feet and lock your legs out at the bottom, and on the ascent you curl your hamstrings to pull your body back up to the start position. Here, I have my Crossfit buddy, Max Rosen, in the middle of the movement. If you find these hard at first you can hold this position that Max is in for about 10-30 seconds and you'll still get the benefit from this isometric hold.
There you have it, 3 simple exercises to improve your squats! Feel free to reference back to this post next gym session.
- Coach K