PRIMARY MUSCLES: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, lower back SECONDARY MUSCLES: Hips, trapezius

1  Starting with an Olympic bar on the floor, choose a light weight and place an equal number and weight of plates on either end. Position your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes under the bar and your shins very close to the bar. Grasp the bar with either an overhand or mixed grip (one underhand, one overhand) a few inches outside of your legs in relation to the bar. Push your hips directly back slightly, lift your chest and keep your chin up with your head looking directly in front of you. Do not hunch your shoulders, or lean forward; your back should be primarily straight with a natural curve.

2  Take a deep breath, and then drive through your heels and extend your legs to lift the bar straight up toward the top of your thighs while rising to a standing position. Finish the move by pressing your hips forward, aligning your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in a straight line. Do not lean back at the top of the movement, this will put undue stress on your lower back.

Slowly and carefully reverse the move to lower the bar to the floor. Do not bend over and place the bar on the ground—the bar should follow the exact same path as it did while you were raising it. Do not drop the bar from the top or you’ll be missing out on half of the exercise!

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