Here’s how Zurmuhlen would break down two leg workouts for the week:
1A Compound hip-dominant movement: deadliftvariation (conventional, sumo, or trap-bar deadlifts)
1B Mobility or posture correctives (like thoracic spine mobilization)
2A Quad-dominant accessory exercise (goblet squat, kettlebell squat variations, plate-loaded front squat)
2B Unilateral hip-dominant accessory exercise (single-leg supine glute bridges, single-leg off-bench hip thrusts, single-leg deadlifts)
2A Hip-dominant accessory exercise (hip thrusts, Romanian deadlift variations, kettlebell deadlift variations, leg curls on gliders)
2B Unilateral quad-dominant accessory exercise (step-ups, lunge variations, split squats, Bulgarian split squats)
3A Loaded carry variation
3B Anti-rotation core exercise (Pallof Press variations, cable chops/lifts—you can use a resistance band if you don’t have access to cables)
Zurmuhlen also swears by these four leg exercises in particular:
“Dumbbell deadlift variations are great for posterior-chain accessory work, and for learning how to hinge properly before moving onto traditional deadlifting with the barbell or trap bar.”
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length in front of hips. With knees slightly bent, hinge at hips to lower weight to the floor. Keeping back straight, squeeze glutes to thrust hips forward and return to start.
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“These are great for learning how to squat with good core activation and posture, and they can be very challenging if you load them up and work at different tempos,” says Zurmuhlen.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell vertically in front of chest, elbows pointing toward the floor. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat, elbows brushing the insides of knees. Push back to start. That’s one rep
“These are are a great bridge exercise before introducing true single-leg work. They can also be very challenging if you add weights.”
How to: Stand with legs staggered, left foot about two feet in front of right. Bend knees to lower body until left thigh is parallel and shin is perpendicular to the floor. Straighten legs to return to start.