The move I love to hate: Volleyball player Brooke Sweat's barbell hip extensions
Beach volleyball player Brooke Sweat launched her 2018 season by winning a bronze medal with partner Summer Ross at the FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major and then reuniting with 2016 Olympic partner Lauren Fendrick. But the partnership was short-lived as a shoulder injury left Sweat needing rotator cuff surgery -- and out for the rest of the summer.
Now Sweat is back, on the Beach Major Series World Tour, this time partnering with three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings for the upcoming Las Vegas event in October.
While her upper body continues to heal, Sweat shared one of her toughest leg moves:
What it is: Barbell hip extensions
How to do it: Get your upper back in a comfortable position on a bench or box. I use a cushion or pad under the bar for more comfort -- and place a resistance band around my legs to help me drive my knees out and keep them from collapsing inward. The band also gives you a little extra gluteal activation.
Once you are situated under the bar, push through your feet and use your hips to lift the bar. When you get the bar to its highest point, you might need to reposition your heels under your knees so they are in the right spot for the exercise. Get stable and begin your repetitions by lifting and lowering the barbell to the floor.
Be sure you are only using your hips, and avoid overarching your back at the top of the movement. Try to get full range of motion all the way down and really extend through your hips at the top. Keep your belly button behind your hips in relation to the ceiling and keep your abdomen engaged to make sure you don't overextend your back.
How often do I do it: I usually do this exercise two times a week. I do four sets of 10 reps with anywhere from 100 to 120 kilograms (220 to 265 pounds). But challenge yourself accordingly and listen to your body.
Why I do it: It's a great exercise to build lower-body strength, which helps improve my lower-body power. Your glutes are some of the most powerful muscles in your body and are responsible for extending your hips --which is important for jumping and sprinting. As a beach volleyball player, I want to do exercises that fully engage the glutes, and this one does just that!
Why it's so killer: It might look easy but it is sooo hard. Your glutes are on fire right away! Don't be afraid to load on the weight as you get more comfortable with the movement.