When the goals are to get timed runs faster for future fitness tests or goal pace faster for future races, often athletes will miss weight training and feel like they are “losing their gains”. The problem with doing a strength training program to a muscle stamina and cardio endurance program is that neither will get better if done at the same time. However, there are ways to maintain much of your strength when increasing running speed and scoring higher on PT tests. Here is a typical leg day that will help the athlete build muscle stamina, cardio vascular ability for running faster without losing much of your strength.
Workout #1: Cardio and Muscle Stamina Leg Day
Squats pyramid 1-20 with 25m runs or dynamic stretches in between
This is a great leg warmup that turns into a workout as you accumulate 210 squats with a mix of short runs and dynamic stretches to get ready for the running workout following. It is best to try this one on a basketball court or field area and make the runs 25-50m in length in between each squat set. It looks like this: 1 squat, run 25m, 2 squats, run 25m, 3 squats, run 25m. Run back and forth until you reach 20 squats. Mix in leg swings, toe touches, Frankenstein walks, side steps or other
- Run 1 mile warmup jog / stretch
- Repeat 12 times:
- 400m at goal mile pace for timed run
- 1 minute rest with abs of choice (plank, situps, flutterkicks, etc)
- This workout is a great way to learn how to run faster and build the cardio conditioning needed for timed runs of any distance. For more sample running workouts, see PFT Run Workout article.
Another option for the day of running is to do 3-4 miles in soft beach sand or a mix of hills to challenge the legs and lungs.
Swim with Fins
Repeat 10 times:
- Swim 25m dolphin kicks underwater
- Swim 25m flutterkicks on back
- Swim 1000m with fins
This swim portion is optional but if your future requires significant swimming with fins, you need to get your legs and lungs prepared for the endurance challenges of long swims with SCUBA dives.
Workout #2: Later in the day – Quick Lift
Repeat 3 times:
- Dead lifts 10
- Squats 10
- Leg Press 10
- Stair farmer walks up/down 3x with 30-40lbs
Do this leg lift twice a week as a supplement on big running, rucking or swimming days. Add a different lift in the mix if you prefer (hang clean, power clean, lunges, etc).
The goal of this quick and easy leg routine is to keep these strength training movements going with lighter weight than a normal strength routine. This is a good way to top off the legs at the end of the day and make the avid lifter feel a little better about “all his gains” going away during a running cycle.
The reason why we cycle through different elements of fitness through the year is so you can build a better foundation in each. Then as you change the focus of the cycle, your previous focus will degrade less. See more information on Tactical Fitness Periodization.