The High Performance Handbook

Bringing Up the Rear

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve judged a few bodybuilding competitions over the years and I’ve also attended dozens of shows to write reviews. I’ve attended some shows just to watch as a fan too. One thing I’ve noticed in nearly all those contests is that the guy who has the best back – and that includes the glutes, hams and calves – almost always win the show. If you’re serious about doing well in bodybuilding competitions, you need these body parts to pop. If you want to look good at the beach or just walking around in shorts, you really need to prioritize the “lowers” of your backside.

Upper Lowers

We’re going to call the glutes, which is short for the gluteus maximus, the “upper” lowers. That way we don’t have to call the butt glutes… or the glutes butt… or @$$. We’re now in covert mode. Got it? Good. The best exercises to hit your “upper” are barbell full squats and some type of lunges.

Don’t be the guy in the squat rack who loads the bar with five or six 45-pound plates on each side and squats up and down using only a two-inch range of motion for a total of ten and then racks it with a huge bang. You’ll notice he doesn’t have great legs, but he does have a great ego and thinks he’s the strongest dude in the gym. If you want great legs and a rock-solid “upper,” then you need to squat deep.

It goes without saying if you do have ongoing knee problems then below parallel squats aren’t for you. If your knees are healthy, however, lighten up the weight and squat as deep as you can in good form for reps of at least 10. Don’t be afraid to go up to 20 reps either. Do three to five sets. Once you get the hang of these deep squats with a light weight, gradually increase the amount of weight each session.

Soon you’ll get a better pump in your quads with each successive workout. Your “upper” will take on a, new powerful look too. To further hit the “upper” and to also begin utilizing the hammies, follow the barbell full squats with alternating lunges with either a barbell across your shoulders or dumbbells in your hands. Start light and increase weight gradually. It’s not a power exercise so you never have to go crazy heavy.

Keep the reps high at 15 per leg. Step out with the left leg and push back to the start. Do the same with the right. Keep alternating. Do three sets of 15 reps for each leg.

Middle Lowers

After the lunges, your hammies, or “middle lowers,” will be fully pumped and tight. After a few weeks, go ahead and add lying leg curls. Select a weight that allows you to perform 12-15 reps at a slow and controlled pace. Start with a lighter weight and pyramid up to a heavier weight. On your last set do a drop set by decreasing the weight immediately. Then do a few more reps with the lighter weight.

Lower Lowers

Two exercises are all you need for your lower legs, which, of course, are called the calves. To keep things consistent, we’ll call them your “lower lowers.” The first exercise is either the toe press done on a leg press machine or the donkey raise, which is naturally done on a – you guessed it — donkey raise machine. Either exercise is fine.

Keep your knees slightly bent and get a good stretch and a hard contraction with each rep. Three sets of 15-20 reps is perfect. Next up is the final exercise for the “lowers” — the seated calf raise. Make sure to do this exercise in a slow-and-controlled manner with a deliberate pause at the top and bottom. Do not rock the weight with only your ankles. We’ve all seen guys load up five plates and rock away for a 1-inch range of motion, but their calves didn’t look like they ever lifted weights. Slow and controlled is the way to go for calves. Two to three sets of 15-20 is all you’ll need for this one if you do it right!

Try this routine for two to three months and get ready to show off your new-and-improved “lowers!”

Bringing Up the Rear
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