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1. Bodyweight Sissy Squat
This is a "love it or hate it" exercise. Critics dislike the knee-over-toe positions, but when done correctly it makes a massive difference on leg day. It'll set your quads on fire and it doesn't require any equipment, just something to hang on to for balance.
This is what I often use as the grand finale for my lower body workouts because of its convenience and large range of motion.
How to Do It
- Stand next to a stable object like a power rack, wall, or piece of gym equipment and get on your tip-toes.
- Lock your hips forward into extension like you would during the reverse Nordic exercise. This creates a straight line with your thighs and torso. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core.
- Push forward and lower your knees down while maintaining hip extension. Allow your knees to travel past your toes toward the floor.
- Stop when you feel you've reached a point of a maximal loaded stretch without too much pressure around the knee or ankle areas.
Move back up pressing the toes down into the ground and completing the rep with the same execution. Maintain as much hip extension as possible.
Fully extend the knees at the top for a good peak contraction on the quads at the completion of every rep.
Want a progression? Attach a band to an object in front of you and loop it around your knees. This will force you to get a greater peak contraction.
2. Machine Sissy Squat
This actually couldn't be more different than the bodyweight version when it comes to execution.
The contraption you use to lock yourself into position will hold your weight when leaning backwards and keep you from falling. This type of sissy squat places maximal tension at the point of peak contraction. But the bodyweight variation emphasizes the bottom of the movement, promoting a great loaded stretch on the quads.
(Don't have one of these contraptions? They're pretty inexpensive. Check out this one.)
How to Do It
- Stand in the machine leaving a gap in front of your ankle if the shin pad is adjustable.
- Slide your feet under the pad and place as much pressure into the front pad before leaning back, allowing your calves to rest on the rear pad to clamp yourself in. Act as if you're constantly pushing the soles of your feet forward and into the floor to remain clamped without feeling like you'll fall back.
- Let your hips drop back and down in a squatting motion, keeping a relatively upright torso until you reach comfortable depth.
- To complete the rep, press your shins against the pads during the ascent. Extend the hips fully at the top to finish in a slightly leaned-back position.