December 09, 2020 | John Paul Catanzaro
There’s no doubt that lower body training with compound lifts requires a lot of hard work. Sure, progressive resistance is important, but sometimes you can “go further” with a lighter weight on these exercises.
Technically speaking, work = force x distance, so to do more work, you don’t always have to use more weight. Instead, try going a greater distance with the same weight as before. Of course, you’ll need to go lighter to start, but those poundages will climb over time.
The best way to increase your range of motion with squats is through “potty training.” Learn all about it in How to Use Weight Training as a Tool to Stop Wasting Valuable Time in the Gym. You can use a step as shown in the article or do “pin-touch” squats in a rack. Either way, the goal is to go deeper than normal in good form.
With deadlifts, try doing them from a deficit (in the video below, I’m doing them on a 4-inch step). Make sure to use proper form in the bottom position. If your back rounds, you’re not ready for this yet.
Split squats and lunges can be done with the rear foot on a step. In order to travel a greater distance with these exercises, your knee must pass the level of the step. If it doesn’t, don’t bother doing them.
With step-ups, the higher the step, the greater the distance and thus the more work you perform. That’s obvious, but don’t go higher at the expense of form. Check out Eliminate The Push-Off During Step-Ups for more information.
To go further in all these movements, flexibility plays a role. To squat deeper, work on glute flexibility. If your back rounds at the bottom of a deadlift or you can’t get your rear knee close to the ground during a lunge, work on the flexibility of your hamstrings and hip flexors, respectively. Step-up height can be limited by ankle flexibility, so work on that if it’s an issue. Learn how to do it in my Stretch for Strength video presentation.
The most concise compilation of material on the subject of stretching that has ever been presented. Stretch for Strength is a must-see for all fitness enthusiasts, healthcare practitioners, personal trainers and strength coaches. The video presentation is 104 minutes long and comes with a 101-page slide presentation in PDF format.