This 3-Move Squat Series Builds Up Tree Trunk Legs

Leg day gets the short end of the stick in some workout programs—but if you want to build up a tree trunk-level lower body, you can’t skip it. If your standard squat routine leaves you uninspired, focus on more dynamic exercises in multiple planes of movement to get the work done.

This lower body series from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. weaves three exercises into one for a killer leg blaster that hits your glutes, quads, and even your core.

“This one is one-stop shopping for your legs, with multiple applications,” says Samuel. “The series is also a perfect leg day finisher, smashing your legs from every angle and challenging more than strength as you diffuse the lateral energy you create, then quickly redirect into the (more traditional) sagittal plane.”

To perform the cossack squat multi-plane leg series, you’ll need a pair of kettlebells and some space to spread out, since you’ll be bending, lunging, and squatting in multiple directional planes. If you don’t have a good set of weights, check out this option from Yes4All.

Samuel recommends that you keep the weight on the lighter side, since you can really push through reps here—but make sure that you use something heavy enough to challenge you. “[The load] will force you to maintain a tall spine and keep your core accountable in the movement,” he says. “You’ll feel a ton of oblique firing when you keep this loaded, especially as you push out of the Cossack.”

Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

  • Stand with both kettlebells in the racked position, holding the handles with the weight resting on your forearms, keeping your wrists strong. Squeeze your core to counteract the load to stay upright and maintain this position throughout the series.
  • Perform a Cossack squat by pushing off your left leg laterally, squatting down to your right side and keeping the left leg straight. Push back off the right leg to return to a standing position.
  • Immediately perform a standard squat, lowering until your thighs are just beneath parallel position.
  • As soon as you finish the squat, step back with your right leg to perform a reverse lunge.
  • Repeat for reps, then switch legs.

    The pace might be tricky, so make sure that you work through the progressions a few times before you get moving. “Start slowly and work to pick up speed as you grow accustomed,” advises Samuel. “Few gym moves ask you to redirect force that you generate like this one does, so it’ll shock your body at first.”

    Add this to your leg day as a finisher or, if you’re tight on time, try it as a standalone 15-minute workout by performing 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 6 reps per side. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.

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