Lower Body-Focused WU CIRCUITS (Videos+UNIQUE Exercise Progressions)
By Sarah Rippel, Author of “Build ‘N Burn”
Today I am bringing you a great little warm-up circuit that emphasizes glutes, hips, & legs. It’s perfect prior to squats or deadlifts! In addition, it can be loaded up and used as solid accessory strength work after your main lifts.
Split Squat Progression
- Bodyweight Split Squat: The basic bodyweight split squat is never a bad idea for use in warm-ups. I like the fact that it provides single-leg emphasis. In addition, it promotes lengthening of the anterior hip musculature of the “down” leg, while activating the hip/glute of the working leg.
- RNT Split Squat: The basic split squat can be loaded of course, but I prefer to move to an RNT split squat prior to loading. Why? I feel it elevates the hip activation a bit more & promotes an overall better execution of the basic movement.
- Loaded RNT/Basic Split Squat: From here, you can load in all sorts of ways in both the RNT and basic split squat setups! A kettlebell or a dumbbell is an easy option, but sandbags and lever bells are also effective with this movement.
Kettlebell Deadlift Progression
- Kettlebell Deadlift from Blocks or Floor: The basic kettlebell deadlift gets the hinge patterning going & is a movement that most anyone can perform. If a person is unable to perform a clean rep from the floor, simply elevate the kettlebell a few inches using a step, box, or bumper plate(s). I prefer to use bumper plates because I like the fact that the center ring gives a good “target” for people to set the kettlebell onto. When you set things up so that the arches of the feet are aligned with the center ring (or slightly behind), this encourages a good hinge and makes it easy for people to sit back into their hips.
- Banded Kettlebell Deadlift: To add a nice little element of accommodating resistance to the basic kettlebell deadlift, thread a band through the horns & secure it to each side of a power rack by using band pegs. You may also be able to create a similar setup by using J-hooks in a rack, although it may place the band a few inches higher than when using pegs. The easy fix to this would be to use a step under the kettlebell and your feet!
I really like banded kettlebell deadlifts because you simply must lock out the movement at the top with solid
technique! For those who have difficulty with this aspect of the deadlift, the addition of a band can be magic!
- Deficit Banded Kettlebell Deadlift: When we increase the range of motion of the basic kettlebell deadlift by standing on 2-4” blocks, it allows us to get a nice stretch of the hamstrings and glutes at the bottom of the movement as well as engage more muscle throughout the movement. This movement can be done without bands as well!
Stability Ball Leg Curl Progression
- Stability Ball Bridge to Leg Curl: I like to teach this variation first, because I feel it allows people to work on the movement while building up the ability to hold the hips in the “up” position that is required for the stability ball leg curl. In addition, for those who may have trouble maintaining neutral pelvis, and may dump into anterior pelvic tilt as a result, this variation is a good place to start (or regress further to a basic stability ball bridge itself). I have found that returning to the floor after each rep provides good feedback for pelvic positioning and allows people to reset before performing the next rep.
- Stability Ball Bridge: This variation requires the hips to stay “fixed” in space while the leg curl is performed, which is excellent for both body awareness and postural integrity! I have only shown the double-leg variations here, but one could progress further to the very-demanding single-leg curl. In doing so, I feel that a hybrid bilateral-unilateral leg curl can be beneficial. With this variation, one leg is used to roll the ball in, and then both legs are used to roll the ball out. You can also perform a hybrid variation where both legs roll the ball in and then one leg rolls it back out. These variations can help bridge the gap between the bilateral and unilateral variations!
Here’s how we used this circuit as a warm-up in Rippel Effect:
1) Bodyweight RNT Split Squat x 8-10/side
2) Banded Kettlebell Deadlift x 10-20
3) Stability Ball Leg Curl x 10-15
Move from one exercise to the next at warm-up pace. Use a moderate load for the kettlebell deadlift.
Here’s how I would structure this for use as accessory work after deadlifts or squats:
1) KB-Loaded RNT Split Squat @ 30X1 Tempo x 6-8/side (rest 30s between legs)
2) Deficit Banded KB Deadlift x 8-12
3) Stability Ball Leg Curl @ 2020 Tempo x 8-12
Rest 60 seconds between exercises. Use moderately-heavy loads for both the kettlebell RNT split squat and the deficit banded kettlebell deadlift.
Quality of movement is of course, the most important factor no matter how you are performing this circuit!
Plug these exercises in during an upcoming workout and let us know what you think! Feel free to leave comments on any of the YouTube videos or connect with us on Facebook! Even better, if you purchased “Build ‘N Burn” leave some feedback in the private Facebook group!
If you haven’t purchased “Build ‘N Burn”, check it out now, and make sure to send us a request for the Facebook group if you snag yourself a copy!
Until next time, keep training yourself and your clients smarter!
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Other articles by Sarah Rippel:
The Continuous 20-Second Interval Format
(“BURN” Circuits w/ Videos )