Taking Sides – Lower Body Workout – Plus Tabata

by Marianne  - April 20, 2011

Hi everyone,

I was thinking about full body workouts the other day (as most of mine are such), but I got thinking about Time and how many of us are short for it. So I thought I would give you a lower body workout today and later in the week, an upper body one.

Focusing on upper or lower body might be more suitable for some people over others, for example those people who regularly suffer from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), or those who just feel too drained after a full body blast to do anything else that day. It happens! So from time to time, you may need to split your workout, and that is fine. As long as you still put your all into it, you will still get great results.

This workout is focusing on building strength and shape in the glutes, with the added bonus of working the rest of the leg muscles and some cardio. The Tabata at the end will help with burning extra calories and it won’t over work the lower body as the exercises there challenge the upper body more.

While you perform the exercises below, try and focus on really extending the hips by squeezing the glutes. In practicing this movement, you will not only activate and strengthen the glutes, but you will also help with stabilising the entire core. The hip extension is one of the most beneficial movements to master. Unfortunately, it is also most commonly the weakest movement in those who are new to exercise – due to dormant glutes.

During the High Deficit Reverse Lunge try holding the weight to the opposite side, like I am, to activate more of the core. During the Side to Side Step Ups, don’t just think “step up” think “Jump Ups” – sink lower and then power up by extending the hip and knee (this will help your speed and acceleration), feel it right into the glutes and hamstrings. Then the Hip Thrusts (glute bridge for beginners), really squeeze the glutes to maximise the extension of the hip, without over arching the lower back. You may feel a stretch at the front of the hip, which is fine. Then, with the Swing, you must allow your hips to both flex (to load the hamstrings) and extend fully (glutes finish the hip “snap”) which will give you the most efficient source of power and the best results.

Anyway, now back to the workout.

Workout Breakdown

In section 1, there are 3 rounds of 6 exercises, mixing set reps and set times.  When possible, try and increase the weight you are using, or progress the exercise in some way to make it more challenging.

  1. High Deficit Reverse Lunge (right) x 8 – 15 reps (R1 with 14kg – 15 reps, R2 with 16kg – 12 reps, R3 20kg – 8 reps)
  2. High Deficit Reverse Lunge (left) x 8 – 15 reps (same)
  3. Side to Side Step Ups x 1 min (57, 56, 54)
  4. Single-Leg Hip Thrust (right) x 8 – 15 reps (15, 13, 12)
  5. Single-Leg Hip Thrust (left) x 8 – 15 reps (15, 14, 12)
  6. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x 1 min (with 20kg – 37, 36, 36 )

The reps and times above are only a guide, you may wish to increase the weight more and lower the reps, or vise verse, depending on your goals and your preference.  I like this rep range for KB work as it marries strength and endurance together.

Section 2 is Tabata:

Set your Gymboss Interval Timer for 8 cycles of 10 seconds rest and 20 seconds MAX effort and complete 4 rounds of the following 2 exercises (didn’t count reps):

  1. Burpees (minus the Push Up)
  2. Dynamic Push Ups

Hope you enjoy this workout, and I will be back next time with the upper body blast 🙂




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  1. Hi Marianne,
    Here is my workout breakdown
    1. hi deficit rev lunge L 10 x 20lbs 8 x 25lbs 12 x 20 lbs
    2. same for r leg (its hard to not fall on my butt with my wobbly weight bench, but my boyfriend is allegedly building me a plyo box)
    3. side to side step ups 42, 35, 40
    4. single leg hip thrust 10, 8, 12
    5. same for r leg (these KILL me. not sure i will b able to walk at work tomorrow)
    burpees w/o pushup 9 7 7 7
    mt climbers 38 30 33 35 (i counted each time my foot came toward my chest as a rep)

    I was supposed to start the 100 push up challenge today however, i almost threw up after this tabata. It was 100 degrees in my garage here in sunny az and i couldnt take it anymore.
    Great workout, i feel good 😉

    1. Great numbers Samantha! Can’t believe you did that is 100 degree heat!! WOW!

      AZ must be sweltering – I think I would die in that heat.

      Good luck with the 100 push up challenge, whenever you decide to start 😀

    1. Norma, Some movement in the pelvis is needed, but if it begins to cause lumbar flexion (lower back rounding), then flexibility may be an issue. To air on the side of caution (as I cannot see you), I would try working on the flexibility of your hip flexors and hamstrings. It does not harm to work on these areas anyway.


  2. Hi Marianne,

    Just thought I’d throw a few reps into the mix for the lower and upper body workouts.

    High deficit reverse lunge (R1 14kg – 15, R2 16kg – 12, R3 20kg – 8)
    Other side – same
    Side to side steps (70, 66, 69)
    Single leg hip thrusts – did these on the floor with 10kg on my hip (15,15,15)
    Other side – same
    2H swing – 20kg – (40, 39, 40)

    Tabata – 8 or 9 for each round – mainly too knackered to count 🙂

    I think my legs are much stronger than my arms. The upper body workout didn’t go quite so well today…

      1. Emma, your numbers are incredible!! Your steps ups are blazingly fast and all your weights… are just amazing. You must be strong, conditioned and strong willed! I cannot imaging doing swings that fst or lunges that heavy! I want you on my team!

        ~ Gillian

        1. Thank you Marianne and Gillian 🙂
          I used to train in gymnastics and trampolining, so I’ve kind of been conditioned to be springy. I guess that explains the side steps 🙂

          Gillian, thank you for your kind message. I like reading the comments here and I’m always impressed by your strength, commitment and how supportive you are of others. I often think it’s a shame all Myomytv fans don’t train in the same gym. Now that would be one heck of a team! 🙂

  3. Hi Marianne,
    i did this workout today, my first (was able to get 2 in) and i noticed something interesting. I did the hip thrusts for the first time today and was pleasantly surprised even though I did them kind of wrong ( My off leg I pushed out straight instead of curling the knee back following my abdomen..I was working aginst myself), but I didnt have the same issues going forward as I do going backwards (reverse lunges). I was at our work gym, and there was no suitable step to use for side to side, so I did straight on step ups with a 20kg KB, 15 on each side. Again, no issues going forward. I used a milk crate for the high Def reverse lunges…not so high deficit, but high enough for me.
    I changed up the tabata some. I did 20 seconds all out on the heavy bag with weighted gloves, rest, then did bench jump overs. (several benches like yours available) It worked as I didnt have to take off my gloves. The only problem is it was evil incarnate. I was spent. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    1. John, Hip Thrusts and Lunges are using different muscle groups. Hip thrusts are a hip dominant exercise, wereas Lunges are quad dominant. Out of interest, how do you find deadlifts? Your issue could be the length of your limbs rather than hip flexors. I had wondered about this when you mentioned having long arms in a forum post. If you can manage the hip thrust without over arching the lower back, your hip flexors are probably not the culpret. Without seeing you, it’s impossible to say for sure.

      Does my babble make sense?

      Nice idea for the Tabata 😀

      1. Complete sense. I’m thinking that I just have to get a really good daily stretching regimen. I ignore it, or blow it off but I’ve come to see for me anyway, that flexibiliy is a real issue. My biggest problem is definitely my tight hamstrings.
        thanks, you’re the best!
        ps- the idea for the tabata wasn’t mine. I saw it in a book about different training regimens used by famous fighters. The one I did was from Ricky Hatton. I wanted to puke after..lol it was something.

        1. Aw thanks John, at least flexibility can be worked at – so you will improve. I am also guilty of not warming up or stretching enough :-/ Probably shouldn’t admit that, but I just want to “get on with it” – as I am worried I will lose motivation or someone will steal my squat rack in the gym LOL!

  4. I am soo glad I did not do much in the way of leg yesterday! This LOOKED easy, since it was relatively short, but it was really intense, especially the glute raises.

    I tried to increase my weight, but I probably could have gone up a little higher on the lunges…

    1. High deficit reverse lunge, right: 10 Kg x 15, 12 Kg x 12, 14 Kg x 8
    2. Left (ditto)
    3. Side to side step up with a hop (ish) 52, 55, 57
    4. Single leg hip thrust (foot only elevated) Right 15 x 3
    5. same — Left
    6. 2 handed swing: 16 Kg x 37, 20 Kg x 36, 36

    1. Burpee (no pushup) 8, 7, 7, 8
    2. Dyno pushup 8, 8, 9, 8

    Phew. This was a nice change — to have a shorter workout, higher weights and lower reps. It was a good thing that it was not longer!

    Thanks as always.

    ~ Gillian

    1. Great job on the tabata Gillian!! I quit half way through and it’s still bugging me:( Im going to go back and redo it just so I can move on. Do you use the same bench that Marianne has?

      1. Thank you on the swings — that is a big jump in weight for me — I don’t even like picking up the thing… but I suppose its all relative, so maybe in a months it won’t be a big deal.

        No Rashelle, I have a home-made bench that we built for for me years ago– its just a plywood box, with a reinforced interior. I covered it with batting and vinyl that I stapled around the edges. Its a good low box for step ups and box squats and on its side, I can lie down and have my legs on it at right angles. I think I spent about $US30 on the parts.

        I know about completing things — but sometimes these exercises take everything out of you. If you weren’t feeling good, then it was best to stop. It won’t take much more conditioning and you’ll do it and wonder what the problem was!

        Best of luck

        ~ Gillian

  5. PS. I forgot to add – you’re looking great! Very nice symmetry and muscle development with curves in all the right places!

  6. Hi Marianne,

    I haven’t been here in a few weeks (I’m trying to reduce the time I spend on the internet) but I’m so glad I checked in today! This looks like a “fun”, effective and INTENSE workout! It’s now on my rotation for next week. 🙂

    Question: how high is the bench you’re using for the reverse lunges and side to side step overs?

  7. Hi Rashelle
    How do you do the dbl hip thrust? I know it is a silly question.
    also, that tabata was a real killer.

    1. Hi Mickela:) The double hip thrust is when I have both feet on the bench insead of one on the bench and one in the air. It’s eaiser then the single, hopefully i’ll get there one day. YES! The tabata was the end of me in this workout!!

  8. I was really looking forward to this workout and it was a great one! I took advantage of my heavier KB’s for this one too:)

    Reverse Lunge (right) 14kg – 15 reps, 16kg – 12 reps, 20kg – 8
    Reverse Lunge (left) Same as right
    Side to Side Step Ups x 1 min (59, 59, 58) Hard!
    Dbl hip thrust-15,15,15
    Sumo deadlift -16+20KG 12,12,12
    Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x 1 min- 16kg – 38, 20kg36, 36

    Tabata: Did not go well:( I had to stop half way through:(:( I’ll give it another go today.

    I did this workout yesterday and was positive i’d be sore today…but nothing! yipeee that means I can do your monday workout today.

    Happy Easter!

    1. Sorry about the Tabata Rashelle. Never worry though, you did REALLY well in the rest of the workout – I see you are using the 20kg for the reverse lunges 😀 😀 😀

      Happy Easter to you too!

  9. I’m definitely adding this on one of my non pushup days. (I’m working on the 100 Pushups program). I’ll have to do plank jacks I think for the tabata. I love doing upper and lower body on different days. I feel like I work the area harder. Maybe it’s all in my mind. 🙂

    1. Hi Vickie, I totally understand what you are saying with regard to working harder for the split days. It is probably that you focus all the time on upper or lower. The full body workouts can be more intense, but then it is down to design and how much the individual puts in. So, I say – do what works best for you – as long as you are training your full body each week, that is the main thing 🙂

      Keep up the great work!

  10. So many workouts so little time. I am glad you posted this, because my back upper and lower plus core has really gotten a beating in the last couple days. Now I am evenly in pain.
    so, here is what I did:

    1. High Deficit Reverse Lunge (right)x210 8kg,x1 12kg 5
    2. High Deficit Reverse Lunge (left)same as above. I have a really bad stool I use and need to be very careful not to hurt myself, it also seems a bit taller than yours so I use a lot of caution.
    3. rope skip (f$%$c the neighbor) x 2 min
    4. Single-Leg Hip Thrust (right)10×3
    5. Single-Leg Hip Thrust (left) 10X3 glutes are pumped up!
    6. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x 2 min (with 16kg) I didn’t count was watching my breathing.

    burpee sans push up and jump squats, that was hell.
    total workout
    20 minutes 2 seconds.
    cold shower was needed after cool down

      1. yeah that was a real killer and 2 minutes of the KB swing was not easy either. great wake up workout though.
        that neighbor is funny, we live on a really noisy corner, lots of bars and people walking around making all kinds of noise, but she is focused on the noise my bare feet make on the floor. Oh well I try to be sensitive but not to the point where I feel trapped.

        1. Exactly, you need to live too. Although I may not be saying that when I move to my ground floor apartment in 6 months 😀 Hope the people above me aren’t baby elephants. Mind you, if they are doing my workouts, I can forgive them 😉 lol

          It’s funny the things that irritate people, maybe she feels frustrated that she can’t act against all the other noise, so focuses on you for it all ??


          1. Tonny, I got this in Argos here in Ireland. Have you tried Amazon? They have everything! Other than that, I haven’t a clue where to buy things in the States, sorry 🙁

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