Workout of the Week: Favorite Leg Days Mixed with Cardio

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego - Recruits of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, perform lunges together during the strength and endurance course, March 26. Drill instructors required recruits to yell each repetition; if the volume level wasn’t loud enough, recruit did the repetitions again.

Do you want to improve your timed run tests, rucking events, or general conditioning? Here’s a leg/cardio program that is an integral part of many tactical fitness programs.

The workouts listed below are three of the most used workouts many recruits, students, and active duty members do to prepare for training and maintain their abilities for durable service requirements.

Run and Leg PT:  You should warm up well if you prefer to do the sprint version of this workout. If goal pacing is your plan, you still need to warm up for 5-10 minutes, but the sprint workouts will require some progressions in speed each set.

5-10 minute run or bike with light leg stretch with dynamic movements mixed in.

If your goal is a 9 minute 1.5 mile run, for instance, then your ¼ mile is 1:30 goal pace tempo.

Repeat 10 times (goal pace option)

  • ¼ mile at goal mile pace
  • “rest” with 10-20 squats or lunges per leg
  • If your goal is to mix in some jog / sprint intervals, try this:
  • Run each ¼ mile: 100yd jog, 100yd sprint, 100yd jog, 100yd sprint
  • Top off leg workout with swim or bike workout:
  • Swim 20 minutes with 100m sets of sprints with fins. Rest as needed.


Bike 20 minutes pyramid. Make each minute harder than the previous minute (increase speed or resistance each minute until you fail to maintain 80 rpms – if under 20 minutes return in reverse order until 20 minutes is complete)

Leg PT with Non-Impact Cardio Options: Use a bike, elliptical or rower for this option.

Repeat 5 times

  • Bike, Elliptical, Rower 5 minutes
  • Air Squats 20
  • Air Lunges 10/leg
  • Dead lift 5 (with barbells / dumbbells / log or sandbag)
  • Front Squats 5 (with barbells / dumbbells / log or sandbag)

Ruck or Swim With Fin Cooldown:  Ruck 2 miles with weight vest or backpack or swim 20-30 minutes with fins.  Shoot for 1000-1500m swim.

Weight Vest Pyramid Leg Day: Use weight vest or backpack.  Or carry plate to work grip too!

This workout starts off as a warmup and goes right past warmup in about 5 minutes.

Squat / Ruck Pyramid:  1-20 – Ruck 25m 1 squat, ruck 25m 2 squats…up to 20. You can also do dynamic stretches during the 25m sections to warmup the first 10 sets. (Recommend doing this on a basketball court / tennis court going back and forth each set)

Squat Stair Pyramid: 1-10 – Do the same pyramid as above up to 10 but go up/down a flight of stairs in between sets.

Cooldown Cardio of Your Choice:  Ruck, Run, Bike, Swim with fins as desired. Minimum time is 20 minutes of steady pace movement.

Also, one our favorites:  Spec Ops Leg Day!

These workouts will help you take a foundation of strength and push new levels of stamina and cardio vascular endurance.  However, these workouts are not for beginners, so alter as needed to fit your fitness level.

These workouts were pulled from the new Warrior Workout (vol 1) book by author Stew Smith CSCS. In the program there are 100 favorite workouts focusing on different elements of fitness: strength, power, muscle stamina, cardio endurance (run, swim, ruck, bike, elliptical, row), mobility, flexibility, speed and agility.

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