Eric Janicki’s Favorite Leg Exercises
December 13, 2017
Last month we shared five of Eric Janicki’s favorite chest exercises. This month, Eric is back again with tips on how to do six of his favorite leg exercises. Follow along to get the most out of leg day this week.
“What you want to do with Romanian Deadlifts is to keep your legs almost completely straight,” Eric says. “You don’t want to lock your knees because that’s dangerous.” As you go down, keep your lower back arched and chest up. “Keep the contraction in your hamstring,” he says. “Go only about three quarters of the way up, then go all the way down. Feel that stretch.”
“You can do these on the Smith machine but I prefer to do them on the Hack Squat machine,” said Eric. “You really want to widen out your stance because that’ll keep your hips underneath you. You don’t want to have a narrow stance because it will push your hips forward and you will feel it in your lower back. Once you feel it in your lower back it means you’re hurting that area.” He continues by saying, “Split squats are not a fast movement; it’s very controlled.” Focus on your glutes and quads.
The Hack Squat
“You can do a ton of variations on the Hack Squat in terms of foot placement,” Janicki says. “Start with the feet high up to hit the glutes and hamstrings. Focus on driving through your heels. Get a good arch in your lower back. Push up under your toes to get calves, too.”
“Focus on four counts on the negative and four counts on your way up,” Janicki. “You want to go down so much that you can keep your butt down and feel the stretch. Feel the contraction in your glutes. You want to go down slow enough so you can feel the stretch.”
“So what you’re going to do is explode up,” Janicki says. “You’re going to squeeze for four to five counts. Really focus on seeing separation in your quads, straightening the legs completely at the top of the rep, then getting a slow negative. You really want to make sure that your quads are on fire at the end of every set,” he continues. “If you sit down and just do 12 reps you won’t feel it. You want to switch up the variation so you feel like your quads are on fire. If you can’t even see the separation in your quads or see your leg straighten, that means you’re going too heavy.”
Hamstring Curl Machine
“I’m going to do a four-second isometric hold at the top of the rep and then I’m going to do a slow negative for about 10 to 12,” Eric says. “Then after that it’s quarter rep burnout at the bottom, just enough to feel the contraction in my hamstrings. And what this does is pre-exhaust with the holds and gives you that last minute burn that makes you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin. The thing that you don’t want to do on hamstring curls is use too heavy weights that you can’t even control,” he says. “A general rule of thumb is if you can’t control a hold on your negative your first rep, then lighten your weights and gradually increase in size.”
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