Leg Day: How to Balance Heavy Lifting With 1 Drill
All variations of squatting and deadlifting strengthen your spine in lower back (lumbar) extension, yes, which is fantastic for creating stability and lifting heavy loads. Your body, however, is more complex than that, and it needs more varied stimulation than just maximal strength training with a barbell to stay fully functional and strong at the same time. This is where Gymnastic Strength Training comes in:
If you do too much maximal strength training in just that one range of motion, you could run into some problems down the road. Your prime movers get too strong for your smaller muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and that is when pain, aches, and injuries creep in. It is a common occurrence for a strong athlete with a solid background in traditional barbell strength training to have issues with back, hip or knee pain, despite their ability to squat heavy or lift heavy. And you don’t have to be an expert to know that pain is never functional.
Reverse Leg Lifts (RLL’s), are a must-have exercise in GST to benefit your lower back and hips. RLL's help balance out the over-emphasis on lumbar extension and maximal barbell strength training by moving the hips through a full range of motion, allowing for more volume.
How To Execute the Straddle Reverse Leg Lift
- The key to do this strengthening exercise well is to ensure that the crease of your hips is at the edge of the platform, couch, etc., allowing you to anchor your upper body while angling your legs down towards the floor.
- Straddle your legs wide and try to feel a contraction in your upper side glute (medial), lock your knees, point your toes and slowly (and with control), lift your legs to horizontal. Be sure to keep them straddled to the width at which you began, aiming for that maximum contraction.
- Pause briefly at the top of the movement, then lower slowly until your legs point towards the floor again. Repeat for high reps here, as the stronger you are, the more volume your back and hips will crave to explode those pain-free gains.
GymnasticBodies Founder Coach Sommer usually “politely suggests” these heavy-lifting athletes place their maximal strength on maintenance, and focus on improving their mobility and training their back and hips with more volume and lower intensities. A few months later, the athlete usually feels like they have a new body, and are able to squat and lift without pain, maybe for the first time in years.
No equipment, No Excuses
I have no equipment, so I can’t do the exercise! That excuse doesn’t fly here, mostly because you don’t need equipment to perform Reverse Leg Lifts! This exercise can be performed on a wide variety of equipment, including a pommel horse, an elevated bench, a reverse hyper machine, a GHD or Roman chair, a large box, or even a couch will do the trick.
Maximum Technique for Maximum Gains
Reverse Leg Lifts done with legs together are fantastic to strengthen the low back, glutes, and hamstrings. Straddle RLL’s amazingly target hip abductors like the piriformis and glute medius, both of which YOU NEED!
Gymnastics Strength Training has plenty to offer to both your upper and lower body, in more ranges of motion than just moving up and down. Use this invaluable exercise to help strengthen your hip abductors as well as your glutes and hamstrings, AND start to undo years of maximal strength training.
Learn more about these and other fascinating strength and mobility exercises that will help to rehabilitate, strengthen, and change your lifting in the Gymnasticbodies Foundations Courses.