The exercise I am going to describe in this post is the Step Up/Leg Raise/Back Lunge and the photo above shows the first two movements of this four-movement exercise. I used this in programs for elite Rugby League players to help them quicker acceleration off the mark speed but the trick with it is that it involves a fair bit of coordination and balance. I like to use this exercise myself as it gives a complete leg workout and adds a lot of intensity to the circuit program.
Use a step up height where your leading thigh is slightly lower than parallel to the floor when your foot is placed on the bench. You don’t need to start this exercise with any extra resistance as you need to work on the coordination and balance bit.
Start the exercise by placing your leading foot on the bench and squeeze your thigh muscles before you step up. Then step up by pushing through your leading heel and continue the forwards and upwards movement by continuing raising your leading thigh (knee bent as in the photo) until it is parallel to the floor: pause. Now for the tricky part. Drop the leading foot back down onto the floor about a half meter behind the trailing foot. Once that foot is planted bend that knee until you are in a lunge position – so you are moving backwards into the lunge. Pause then straighten both knees and continue the movement by placing your leading foot back onto the bench. Do three sets of 10 repetitions with each leg or if it is in a circuit, do this exercise first as it is a great start to each circuit.
If you think about it, this movement combination totals 80 movements if you complete 10 repetitions each leg as there is four movements for each repetition! You can intensify the exercise by adding a power aspect to it by driving quickly out of the bottom of the lunge to step and leg raise as quickly as you can…but this can only be achieved after you have mastered the basic exercise movement coordination.