Workout of the Week: Leg and Cardio Mix

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Stephen Frank, instructor pilot, 559 Flying Training Squadron, performs leg press to build up his quads and lower muscle groups, 16 July, 2014, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong/ Released)

Warm up with a short jog mixed with some leg dynamic stretches (butt kickers, leg swings, high knee, etc.) for 25-50 meters with a squat pyramid: increasing each set by one rep until you get to 10 squats on the 10th set.

Squat Pyramid 1-10: run 25m between each set

So, the warm-up set will look like this:

Run 25-50m, 1 squat, run 25-50m, 2 squats, run 25-50m, 3 squats … keep going up to 10 and stop at 10. No need to return in reverse order. Consider this a half-pyramid warm-up.

Remember that some of these runs can be all-dynamic warm-ups instead of fast or slow jogging. Remember, this is a warm-up, NOT a sprint.

Continue the warm-up with a flight of stairs, hill or step-up box for another 1-10 half-pyramid.

Stair Pyramid 1-10: Run up/down

You can run up and down a flight of stairs or short hill (or 5-6 step-ups per leg on box), do 1 squat, run up/down, 2 squats, run up/down 3 squats … Keep going up until you reach 10 squats.

This warm-up is a total of 110 squats. Alter if this is too much for you at this point by simply skipping one option or only going up to 5-6 in the pyramid to reduce the total reps to less than 50 reps with both events.

After the warm-up, the legs and lungs should be truly "warmed up." Now let's make this a workout.

This focuses more on cardio than leg activity, but by the end, you will definitely feel like you did a leg workout, depending upon your choices of leg activities. As you are starting to transition to warmer weather and getting outside to do more endurance events, consider this idea for leg day.

Repeat 5 times

  • 5 minute run, bike, elliptical, or other cardio activity
  • 1 minute leg exercise of your choice
  • 1 minute core exercise of your choice

Here is how the Cardio/Leg Core Day Workout Works:

Start off with a five-minute cardio challenge mixing in some fast minutes-slow minutes intervals of your choice. Tabata intervals (20 second sprint/10 second easy) are a good choice as well.

1 minute fast/1 minute slow is also an option. Pushing hard to see how many calories you can burn in 5 minutes is a fun challenge, especially when you increase resistance and speed to increase calorie burn per minute to a level that is challenging. Can you get 50-100 calories burned in 5 minutes? That is a good range.

After the 5-minute cardio section, take 2 minutes off from the cardio but go straight into a 1-minute set of leg exercises, such as squats, lunges, deadlift, leg press, wall sits, box jumps, etc.

The goal here is to do a set in that 1-minute period. If you go heavy with squats or deadlifts, great. Do not worry about doing a full 1-minute set. BUT, if you choose light weights or calisthenics, then last the entire minute. After the leg set, select a core/abdominal exercise that will take the full 1-minute period: sit-ups, plank pose, crunches, flutter kicks, lower back exercises and more.

In the end, you should feel like you did something that has helped you with leg strength and muscle stamina as well as opened up your lungs and got your heart pumping for nearly a full 45 minutes. Enjoy!

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