This issue we are putting the finishing touches on our "Three the hard way workout". Remember, this workout is designed to help you "tone up" your body and maintain that level of fitness. We will not be taking our set/rep scheme beyond muscle failure. Also, this workout is designed for the three workouts per week kind of guy or gal.

When I think of today's workout, the word "excuse" comes to mind. I have never seen as many people make excuses as when leg day comes around. For some unknown reason, it seems as if every undertaking of the day has become an immediate emergency. I must admit that more than a few so called emergencies have come up on leg day for myself.

Maybe it's the pain and effort that is involved in working legs. Maybe that feeling the next couple of days after the first leg workout, who knows. Nonetheless, legs are an important part of the total package. There is nothing worse than walking around looking like an Adonis that stole his legs from a chicken. Today we'll work quadriceps (quads), shoulders and calves. Let's get started.


Remembering that we will not go all the way to muscle failure, we can start with quads. Before you begin your workout, stretch well and loosen up your leg, shoulder and calf muscles. I also like to ride a stationary bike for about 5-10 minutes, to help warm up my my thighs and knees.

Now, your first exercise will be free weight squats (barbell). This exercise forms the basis of a good leg workout. With squats, you can work almost the entire lower body. When performing squats, make sure you use a belt and a spotter. If you don't have a spotter handy, I would suggest using the Smith machine to help you. Remember, safety is of the utmost importance. You are going to position yourself under the bar, placing the upper part of your trapezius (traps) muscles in contact with it. Squeezing your shoulder blades together, you'll grip the bar, as if doing a military press. Using your legs and traps to lift the bar off the rack, back up. You can use a couple of different foot stances. You may use a shoulder width stance or a stance that is wider than shoulder width. That depends on what's comfortable for you. The wider your stance, the deeper into the squat you are able to go. When you begin your squat, make sure that you keep your back straight and neutral. Try to focus your eyes on a point that's just above eye level and keep your head up. You will lower yourself to a point that would be similar to you sitting in a chair. If it's comfortable for you to go deeper, you may do so. However, be wary of your knees as you descend deeper into a squat. There is an unbelievable amount of stress placed on the knees. Exhale as you raise the weight back up and concentrate on flexing the thighs instead of locking the knee. You will do three sets of 8-12 repetitions. Next, you will move to dumbbell lunges. The starting position for lunges is as follows: Your feet should be pointing forward and positioned at least hip width apart. Pick up a pair of dumbbells. Be careful not to injure your back. With the weights in your hands, you'll step one foot forward, about the same length as your thigh (hip to knee). For example, if you step forward with your left leg, your left knee should be directly over your left ankle. Your right knee (which will end up a couple of inches from the floor) should be perpendicular to the floor. Keep your back straight and look forward to help you with your balance. Once you extend your leg out, return to the upright position by straightening the forward leg, knee and hip. I would also suggest that you exercise one leg first and then the other leg instead of alternating. For example, you will do 8-12 reps with your left leg, then 8-12 reps with your right leg. That is one set. You will be doing three sets to complete this exercise.

That does it for quads. Next, we have shoulders.

For shoulders, we will do two exercises; overhead dumbbell press and lateral raises. For overhead dumbbell presses, you'll need a bench with a back support. Place your feet on the ground in a stable, yet comfortable, position. Pick up your dumbbells and position them a little higher than shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Slowly press the dumbbells up and in towards each other until they meet or nearly meet at the top. Keep your palms facing forward throughout this exercise. Squeeze your deltoids (shoulder muscles) at the top of the exercise. I suggest that you use a spotter to help you. You will do 3 sets with 8-12 reps for this exercise. Now time for lateral raises. You are going to stand with your feet about shoulder width apart or closer. Bend your knees a little to lower your center of gravity. Lean very slightly forward at the hips. Stand with two dumbbells in your hands, hanging at your sides. Slowly add tension to your deltoids and raise your arms out to your sides as if you were making the letter T with your body. Make sure that you keep your palms facing the floor throughout the exercise. You may bend your arms at the elbows slightly, however, make sure that the dumbbells remain directly in line with your shoulder joints. Lower the weight slowly to the start position. Do not use your legs and momentum to "bounce" the weight up. Use your deltoids. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps and you're done with shoulders. Time to move on to calves.

We are going to do two different types of calf exercises. seated calf raises for the soleus muscle (lower calf) and standing calf raises for the gastrocnemius (upper calf). With both exercise, make sure you focus on relaxing the ankle and calf muscle at the bottom of the exercise to get a good stretch and feel the full effect of the workout. With seated calf raises you will do roughly 10-15 very slow repetitions. With standing calf raises conduct a lower number of reps, somewhere between 8-12. Make sure that you stretch for a good 5-10 minutes after your workout.

This concludes your 3 the hard way workout. This should give you the tone you're looking for. Once you get adapted to this workout, try substituting some of the exercises. For a few ideas, look in the Semper Fitness archive under the "five day workout plan" to find substitutes.

That does it this week from Semper fitness. Join us next time when we will be discussing the ins and outs of running. Time to get ready for the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). Stay pumped. Stay motivated and OO-RAH!

Semper Fidelis!