Try this minimalist leg day workout

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Calisthenics Squats, lunges and jumps are always a classic exercise combination when you don’t have any equipment and there is a day of training that you don’t want to miss: leg day. You can get creative with a few very common objects and create a weighted legs day that rivals any full day of leg lifts at the gym.

Here are different ways to complete a leg day with minimal equipment to help meet your training goals.

The classic PT running training

Running sprints, target pace for time trials, or a recreational jog can all be done depending on the athlete’s personal goals and the type of leg day you want to experience. Thats how it works:

Repeat 6-8 times

Run: 400 meters (the pace is up to you)

Squats: 20

Lunge steps: 10 per leg

If you’re trying to get your running pace up for timed runs and training the legs for some muscle endurance or endurance, the leg PT is a great way to prepare the lungs and legs for training events like military tests.

The squat pyramid with short and fast runs in between.

You can do a half pyramid (1-10 ladder – 55 total reps), a full 1-10-1 (100 total reps) pyramid, or really challenge yourself with 1-20 (210 total reps) squats and runs pyramid. Your skills will dictate how you can use the pyramid as a warm up or as a full leg and cardio workout. Here’s how it works, and the level you level up to is yours:

1 squat, run 50-100 meters

2 squats, run 50-100 meters

3 squats, run 50-100 meters

Go up the pyramid to 10 to complete a warm up, or up to 15-20 to continue a more difficult section of a leg day workout.

Just lunges.

Building lunges up to 400 meters is a tough challenge for the legs. On a normal leg day, you can round off your leg workout with a few 100-yard sets, and over time you will be able to do 400-yard walking lunges non-stop. The ultimate goal is to be able to do 400 yards of lunges without sore muscles in the next two days.

This will take some time to build up. So don’t jump straight into the 400 meters without a couple of weeks of consistent construction of the leg day.

Add hill.

When in doubt, add an appropriately sized hill, staircase, or bleacher to exercise your legs and lungs even more than normal. Depending on the hill distance, try the classic running PT sets and repetitions between each mountain run or one of the pyramids with mountain runs between each set. In our group workouts, we often do squats at the top and bottom of the hill, which we do for both regular sets and repetitions or the pyramid method. One of our favorite trainings is running up the hill with random heavy objects and going down, repeating this with as many different objects as possible. Random stuff on a mountain day never disappoints.

Add a weight vest or backpack.

If you want to make all of this even harder than they already are, add a 20-50 pound vest or backpack or rucksack. With this addition, prepare yourself for any military program that involves long-distance load-bearing activities. Doing a 45-60 minute jerk session after a leg day or as a separate leg day is what we call a “Spec Ops Leg Day”.

Some favorite items to add to your workout.

tires. Depending on its size, you can do different things with a tire. A car or truck tire is a good challenge to carry over distances or up a hill, pull with a rope (sled pull substitute), and even crouch and throw. But the classic that is made with most tires is the tire flip. While this is usually more likely to be done with a track tire or a large truck tire, over time you can switch from a car tire to larger tires, replacing exercises like deadlifting, hanging, carrying, pulling, pulling, and even jumping up and down (Box jump option).

protocol. A small piece of log or a long log for groups can be used to add weight on exercises such as squats and lunges. With only one person on a large log, you can lift one end off the floor like a deadlift or switch to a power-clean and push-press option. Although chest carrying lunges are quite a common exercise for the legs, back, and biceps, many use the protocol to prepare for future protocol PT workouts.

Sandbags. Whether you are buying sturdy sandbags or building your own sand and tape, these are very versatile for adding to the leg workout. Using a sandbag can help you prepare for Log PT as well as the Sandbaby Murph – Log PT simulation training. Speaking of soft sand, a beach to run or romp about is an option for you even on leg day. It will challenge your legs unlike many other activities.

Swim with fins. This is a classic day topper that we do a lot, especially with people preparing for military training that requires swimming and diving with SCUBA fins. Side kicking or just kicking on your back for 30 to 45 minutes is one way to end your daily leg routine. We call this the “Spec Ops Leg Day Topper”.

There’s no excuse to skip leg day when you can’t go to the gym to lift. Have a backup plan but use the options above regularly just so they aren’t so new to you that you are sore from your leg day replacement activities than from your actual leg day routine.

Stew Smith is a retired Navy SEAL and fitness writer who was certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook shop when you want to start an exercise program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]

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