“You can’t get strong legs by doing Pilates.”
“If you want to have strong legs you have to lift heavy weight and do squats and lunges.”
“Muscles look bad on women.”
A thirteen-year-old girl that plays volleyball was at her middle school one day. She was wearing shorts and a group of boys and girls began teasing her about her legs.
“Your legs are so muscular,” one boy chided her.
Another girl piped in saying, “I mean, they’re weird, I mean they go like this (gesturing like a curvy coke bottle).”
“Yeah, they’re just too big, like just too muscular,” said the last boy.
The girl, undaunted, gave them the side eye and politely and quietly stated, “F-off”. She then proceeded to slowly and confidently walk away.
I wish I could say the girl in that story was me, but I never had confidence like that about my body until I was much older than 13. The above is absolutely a true story and happened at my daughter’s middle school a couple of years ago. Not that the language was great, but the attitude was spot on!
This article and the preceding series are about creating strong legs with powerful balance and symmetry that will help you in life and in sport. There’s no reason for anyone, man or woman, to apologize for being strong. However, there’s a million reasons that it’s bad to be weak.
If you want to build some ass kicking legs, implement these moves.
Mountain Climber Series
Mountain Climber Fingertips:
Make sure your client is aligned properly. I cue, “pretend there is a pen mark going down the middle of your knee cap and it’s aligned with your second toe.”
At first your client may need to hold on while doing these. They should work towards lifting their waist off of their thigh and balancing on their “tippy fingers.”
Mountain Climber Variations:
Sessions later they can advance to the “I Dream of Genie Arms.” Set them up by pressing the top arm into the bottom and creating resistance. Pressing their arms together and helping them hug into the midline will improve their balance.
Mountain Climber Diagonal Arm Reach
When they advance to Genie arms it won’t be too much longer, maybe even in the same session, they can progress to Diagonal Arm Reach. You can also add the pinky finger inner spiraling to nicely wrap the shoulder blades and increase lat activation.
Mountain Climber Step-ups
When your client has mastered those variations, move on to these Rotation Versions of Mountain Climber. Make sure they use the strength of their arms on these for balance. For the hand behind the head, make sure you cue them to actively press their head into their hand and into their head. Occipitals pull back. For the hand on the thigh, press down into the thigh and rotate a bit further.
For the hands together version, actively press your hands in towards each other- this activates your core and helps you increase rotation too.
I don’t subscribe to exact repetition ranges. It’s really dependent on the client in front of you. Often times I tell them to shoot for 5-8 or 8-10, but if they get the form really well on the last rep of the initial rep range, they are rewarded by doing 3 more. You ideally want them to have a number of reps in the proper form until they learn it correctly, unless they’re fatigued, of course.
You could always strive to count like my master gymnastics coach from my childhood, “Once more” he would say. He’d say it over and over and over. After about two years of this, I finally dug up the courage to ask him why he keeps telling me once more when I’ve already done 11. His reply? “Once is not a number.”