KILL YOUR LEGS–a favorite workout

My first exposure to more obsessive, endurance-oriented sports was college rowing. I was a soccer and baseball player growing up, and while I did some strength training for those sports, I never really kept at it as consistently as I have since my first year rowing at Rutgers. I certainly know that I never emphasized the leg strength that was so important to using an oar to move a boat forward (while we sat facing backwards–go figure!). 

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about training for specific sports and a lot about training the base of most sports (legs) and what connects that base to the rest of your body (core). Often, when I’m seriously training for a race of some kind, I will do formal strength training 2-3 times per week. While I’ll do movements involving my legs in all of those sessions, at least one session will focus heavily on strengthening the legs that help me cycle, run and (yes) paddle faster.

What follows is one of my favorite workouts to blast my legs and core. It is recommended only for those who have good base strength and who realize the importance of proper technique.

Deadlifts 6 sets of 6-12 reps

Then, superset the following:

Overhead Squats(with kettlebells, sandbags or dumbbells)–6 sets of 6-12 reps.

Walking Lunges(with kettlebells, sandbags or dumbbells)–6 sets walking one length of about 30-40 meters/yards. The “normal” walk back to the starting spot carrying the weights is also technically part of the workout (so don’t drop the weights at the end of the walking lunge. Carry them back to where you were doing the overhead squats!

Superset means you do one set of one exercise and then one set of the other–with no rest. Move right to the next exercise. Then take one minute rest and repeat until you are done with the required number of sets.

While I’m not a big fan of machines, for some reason all the leg work I did for college rowing made me a fan of the leg extension. So, to finish off your legs, you can add 6 supersets of the following exercises:

Leg Extensions (6 sets of 6-10)

Squat Throws (6 sets of 15) using a 10-20 pound medicine ball or sand bag.

Squat throws are similar to the wall ball throws done in CrossFit, but without the wall. You hold the ball in both hands (sort of like you are shooting a basketball) at chest height and squat. Explode upwards and in a smooth continuous motion launch the ball upwards as you extend your arms. Catch the ball as it comes down and move back into the squat and repeat. Try to make it a continuous sequence with no hesitations.

All of these movements engage your core if you are vigilant about maintaining proper form and posture. If you can’t maintain good technique, lower the weight.

I usually finish this workout (though at this point my motivation is usually waning) with a few core exercises.

Kettlebell Prunch(4 sets of 10-15) I do this on a decline bench and combine a one armed punch with a twisting crunch (hence the “prunch”). So, while laying back on the decline hold a kettlebell (or sub a dumbbell or small sandbag) in one hand. As you engage your abs and curl your body up, slowly punch the weight over the opposite knee. I typically do all the reps on one side and then switch the weight to the other hand and repeat. One set is equal to 10 prunches on each side.

Superman (4 sets of 30-60 seconds) Belly-down on the floor, arms stretched out over your head, lift your arms and legs off the floor together and hold (hopefully you look like Superman flying and not the Greatest American Hero).

So, if you have good basic strength and are looking to really work your legs and core hard, try this workout and let me know how it goes. Chances are, even if you are fit, this workout will produce some serious soreness and some serious gains in strength!

~ by kipwkoelsch on April 6, 2009.

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