Steroid Alternatives

Laura Mak

Laura Mak Fitness

Laura Mak is an f I.F.B.B. Fitness Pro and world renowned fitness trainer, visit her website at

I began personal training in 1992, just prior to receiving my bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Michigan State University. During graduate school I had the opportunity to work with two excellent mentors that helped me get started in the industry. One gentleman worked with the MSU basketball team as well as the general population. We ended up creating a traveling personal training unit. It was the first of its kind within the area I resided. It is still in business today.

I learned from another gentleman who worked with many pro hockey players during their off season. He concentrated much of his training by incorporating plyometric drills. Periodization is very important to the athlete during the off season. It was great to learn about the program planning. I enjoyed seeing the progress in clients.

When I completed my master’s degree in exercise science, also from Michigan State University, I moved south. Since living in the Atlanta area, I have formed my own personal training business named “Mak Attack Fitness Pro”.  I have successfully completed the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) requirements to earn a certificate as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). This type of training certification is a requirement for collegiate strength and conditioning coaches and useful, but not mandatory, at the professional sports level.

Laura Mak’s Leg Training

Leg training is one of the hardest training days. It takes the most amount of energy because it stresses the three largest muscles of the body – the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Breathing and heart rates are increased because there must enough oxygenated blood supplied to the working muscles. This is why “leg day” can be so challenging.

Nevertheless, leg training is one of my favorite days. On a majority of leg exercises I will stay with higher reps, like 20 –50 per set. Typically I will combine two or three exercises in a row. I take a short rest for about 30 seconds to three minutes, depending on how taxing the exercise is. It helps keep my heart rate up through out the training session. This seems to help me get my muscles stronger and improve my endurance. Thanks to good genetics, thirteen years of competitive gymnastics, and eleven years of weight training it is easy for me to put on mass. My leg training focus is more on competition shape and definition.

I like to begin with the leg extensions and focus on “squeezing” or “flexing” the quads at the height of the movement. It is a single-joint movement that concentrates the blood flow to the top of the leg. The knees should bend 90 degrees at the release of the exercise and then extend straight to complete the repetition.

The roman chair squat is a great multi-joint activity to combine with the leg extension. Although it is important to stick the glutes back, one must remember to keep the shoulders in a more upright position than in a regular squat. The quads should become parallel to the ground if not slightly lower. The focus on the rise should be a squeezing of the glutes with a slight hip press forward.

If performed correctly, the leg press is an excellent exercise for the hamstring glute tie in. To complete a rep using the full range of motion, I like to think about bringing the quads in all the way to touch the chest and then extend the legs. I feel an intense stress on the rear of my legs all the way up thru the glutes, when I use a full range of motion. The foot placement can add an extra emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes if placed higher up on the machine. The width of the feet should be about six to eight inches apart. If the feet are wider more concentration will be on the vastus lateralis, the outer part of the quad.

I like to alternate the leg curl with the leg press. I find it beneficial for me to put extra emphasis on the hamstrings during my leg  training. On each curl, I try to concentrate on bringing my heels up to my touch my glutes.   My flexibility allows me to perform the exercise in this manner.

The hack squat is another exercise that is an excellent multi-joint movement for quads, hams, and glutes. I place my feet about shoulder width apart. Due to lower back injuries incurred during my college gymnastics days, I only execute this exercise with 75-105 degree of bend in my knees. Anything more than that bend, places too much stress on my back. As a result, I keep the weight much lighter and the reps even higher.

The movement I perform with the hack squat is the standing one leg curl. I focus on keeping my hip and shoulders forward. Many times I see people using a weight too heavy and the body ends up with all kinds of torques and twists. There are no benefits in performing an exercise with improper form. The abdominal muscles play a secondary roll as a stabilizer. I concentrate on pulling my abs in towards the spine, and that also alleviates any temptation to twist the body to lift the weight.

Typically, I like to end my leg routine with the butt blaster.   I press the weight through the ball of my foot. The leg should extend to the rear of the body with a focus on flexing the glutes. It is essential not to lift the leg so high that the hips begin to twist outward. At the top of the movement I pause and hold the tightened glutes. Instead of bringing the weight all the way down, I will stop the rep just before the weights touch. That will keep tension on the glutes throughout the set. It is also important to keep the lower back straight by keeping the abs pulled in toward the spine.

This leg routine is an example of what I know works well for me and my goals. Remember, body types may be different, so try incorporating only a few changes in to your regular leg routine. This will help you determine which exercises are stimulating the legs.   Keep training and stay healthy.

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