Quick note: Because it is quicker/easier during the work week, I will be posting more workouts/meals to instagram (with limited info about each move/meal) — follow me @mtroiano31 for additional workouts and quick meal ideas.
Legs are my absolute favorite to train! I always feel super strong after a hardcore leg day, which is not always the case when I am benching or doing pull-ups ;). My last 3 week cycle was split into a relatively moderate-weight strength portion for sets of 10 reps, followed by a 10 minute round of plyometric/cardio moves for legs. I finished the workout off with jump rope intervals. This version was:
- 5 rounds of 10 reps for back squat, front squat, and plies
- 3 rounds of 10 reps of lunges with a knee raise and goblet lunges
- 7 min of 5 cleans, 5 ground-to-overheads, and 7 box jumps
- 3 min of 5 deadlifts, 5 kettlebell swings, and 7 box jumps
- Pyramid of leg extensions
- 10 rounds of 45 sec jumping, 15 sec rest
(1) Squat Variations
Start with 5 rounds of 10 reps for back squat. Use a weight where you are able to hit your own max range of motion (I dropped down to 135lbs) — recognize that your hip structure will impact how deep you can squat. The goal of this set is to move with precision since the weight is lighter. Really press through the big toe and heel, while keeping your chest as upright as possible. Use a 2-3 count pace to lower the weight and a 2-3 count pace to raise back up to the starting position. At this tempo, your legs will be burning more than with a lot more weight at a quicker pace. You should rest for as long as it takes your partner to complete the 10 reps (about 1 min).
Next move on to front squat – again for 5 rounds of 10 reps, resting while your partner completes the moves (about 1 min). Generally, people can drop lower in a front squat, which means you hit your quads and glutes a little harder than in a back squat. This also means that I generally have to drop a bit of weight in order to be able to keep my elbows high for the front squat (I used 115lbs). A good word of advice I was recently given for front squat arm positioning: imagine you are squeezing a basketball between your elbows and you want to keep the ball in front of your chest for the entire movement. This will help you keep your arms parallel and high.
Finish the squat variations with a plie (I stuck with 115lbs) — again for 5 rounds of 10 reps, resting while your partner completes the moves (about 1 min). Start with your legs as wide as the squat rack, with toes pointed out to the sides. Lower the weight down while pushing your butt out and keeping your chest as upright as possible. You will have to really squeeze through your inner thighs (it helps to push through the big toe) to lift back up to the starting position. Again, the focus is to use a light enough weight that you can hit a full range of motion – it is better to drop the weight and get your butt below your knees than it is to use a heavier weight and only reach parallel for this workout.
(2) Lunge Variations: Do 3 rounds of 10 reps each: forward lunge with a knee raise (I used 40lb dumbbells) and goblet reverse lunges (using one 40lb dumbbell).
For the forward lunges, take a large step forward, lower down until your back knee almost touches the floor. As you step back to the starting position, lift your front knee toward your chest. Alternate until you’ve done 10 lunges (5/side). Immediately drop one weight and hold one dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. Take a large step back and lower your back knee until it almost touches the floor. Repeat for 10 lunges (5/side). Rest 1 min before completing both moves, and repeat for 2 more rounds.
(3) Plyo/Cardio Moves
We started with 7 rounds of 5 cleans (@65lbs), 5 ground to overheads(@65lbs), and 7 box jumps (30″). I thought this would take 10 min, but we knocked it out in just under 7 minutes.
*Next time, I need to remember to film the moves first, instead of after the 7 minute workout. My form would be nicer!
For cleans (which are still a work in progress for me), keep the bar close to your body. When you lift the bar to about hip height, shrug up, and explosively press your elbows forward to bring the weight up to your chest. Drop into a squat (trying to get low enough that elbows hit knees).
For ground to overhead, start with a clean and then press the weight overhead, with arms straight by your ears.
Because we still had 3 minutes left, we finished it off with AMRAP of 5 deadlifts (@65lbs), 5 swings (@24kg), and 7 box jumps. I got through 4 rounds + 3 deadlifts.
(4) Kill It Move: I love finishing off a hard workout with one extra move to really fatigue the muscle I have been focusing on – this workout used the leg extension machine. I am a big fan of pyramids on the leg extension machine. My typical sets are 10 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 6 reps, 8 reps, 10 reps. I start with 90lbs, move up to 100lbs and 110 lbs, and then drop back down.
(6) Jump Rope: Finishing off with intervals can be brutal right after lifting for legs – but it actually has helped me push harder when my legs are fresh. I like using a jump rope on leg day instead of sprints (partially so I don’t fall off the treadmill!). We did 10 rounds of 45 sec on, 10 sec off. My favorite trick to push myself is to count my number of jumps in the first round and aim to match or beat it for each of the next 9 rounds.