Going all out under a barbell with big compound squats is all very well, but it pays to be specific, too. And if you want to run further or pedal faster, you sometimes need to pump the brakes.
This combination of two little-known exercises will slow you down for speedy gains.
“The Sissy squat – named after Greek mythology’s Sisyphus – is one of the best quad-isolating moves you can do,” says veteran PT Scott Laidler. “And the Nordic curl works on your hamstrings to balance out your progress and injury-proof your lower body.”
Together, the exercises target the two major muscles of your upper leg, building levels of power and speed worthy of an epic hero. Laidler stresses the importance of maintaining good form throughout. Your swift progress in the saddle and out running is won through controlling the movement.
“The Sissy squat won’t feel natural, so to make it easier, you can attempt it in a squat rack, holding the bars,” he advises. “Four low-rep sets with plenty of rest will provide a strong start.” Get this right and all your goals will fall into place.
1. Stand and deliver
Stand tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms crossed and raised to shoulder height. Quickly flex your quads to switch on the correct muscle fibres and bend your knees.
2. Down time
Now, lower yourself to the floor under control, balancing on your toes as you descend. Try to keep your core tight, and resist the urge to arch your back. Remember, good form is key.
3. Fall guy
Once your knees have reached the floor, keep the rep moving fluidly. Contract your hamstrings to control your descent as you lean forward.
4. Fall out
Eventually, gravity will take over and you’ll drop. Aim for a 10-second rep to create enough time under tension across the move. Jump back up, then give us four more.