The Lower-Body Sizzler
When it comes to training their lower half, most gym-goers stick to the 45-degree leg press—a machine in which you lie down and push a weight sled upward with your legs. While it may be one of the most popular ways to train your legs, it's not one of the best ways, says Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S., author of musclemorphosis.com
"To build a solid foundation for sports and real-life movements, you need to train on your feet—not while you're lying on your back," he says. The reason: ground reaction force. Whether you're jumping, sprinting, kicking, or walking, your body creates a force as it pushes against a solid surface. The greater your ability to generate this type of force, the better your overall athletic performance will be.
That's why Durkin chose the lunge hop, a plyometric movement, for this weekend's fitness challenge. The body-weight exercise targets your quadriceps, while also activating your core, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. At the same time, it trains your muscles to produce greater ground reaction force with each hop. "You'll build a stronger, more explosive lower body, while working at a blistering pace," says Durkin. "That's something you can never accomplish with the 45-degree leg press."
Here's how to do it: Assume a staggered stance, left leg forward. Slowly lower your body as far as you can, and then jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor. Land with your right leg forward. Keep your torso upright for the entire movement. That's 1 rep. Do as many as you can in one minute.
Think you can survive the lower-body sizzler? Watch the video above to see Durkin perform the challenge. He completed 73 lunge hops in one minute. Can you beat him? Let us know your score in the comments below.