Workout of the Week: Try This Leg Day Mixed with Endurance Events

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)

If working your lungs and legs is something you need to do to improve overall endurance and muscle stamina, here is a good workout of the week that was "enjoyed" by all. Granted, these were young men and women seeking to serve in jobs in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force Special Warfare groups, where running, rucking, and leg and back durability are required.

Warmup with the Squat Pyramid and Easy Run

Squat Pyramid 1-10 with 100-Meter Runs and Dynamic Stretches Between Sets

This warmup is a good way to get the legs ready for what is coming in the next hour. The 100-meter runs are moderately paced and can incorporate 20 meters of dynamic stretches for each set, as needed. 

Do one squat, jog 100 meters, two squats, jog 100 meters and continue to 10 squats and 10 jogs, then you are done with this warmup section.

To continue the warmup, jog a mile, but if you are feeling completely warmed up, put some speed into this one and work on your timed run goal pace or faster.

This workout below is essentially a 50-minute run or ruck, but every five minutes, you stop and do a leg exercise for a set number of repetitions, distance or time. 

You can pick several of the options below, adding your own favorites to each set. Mix each set up with a different exercise. It is fine to repeat exercises as needed, especially if equipment is an issue.

Repeat 10 times: Ruck or run five minutes, then pick one of the exercises below, every five minutes for each set:

  • Air squats: 20
  • Farmer's walk: 100 meters (carry 2 x 40-pound dumbbell or kettlebell 2 x 50 meters)
  • Wall sits: 1 minute
  • Broad jumps: 10*
  • Lunges: 50 meters
  • Kettlebell Romanian deadlift: 10
  • Kettlebell squats: 10
  • Kettlebell swings: 20
  • Farmer's walk: 5x up and down a flight of stairs
  • Thrusters: 10 (squat and overhead press movement)

*You can take the ruck off during any of these events (especially the jumps)

Logistics of the Workout

One way to have equipment available every set is to run or ruck 2.5 minutes in one direction away from your gym or area where you have the equipment and come back to your starting point by the end of the five-minute period. 

If you prefer to use calisthenics and the weight of the ruck, you can ruck or run for 25 minutes in one direction (stopping every five minutes to add in a variety of leg workouts) and turn around to get back to your starting point. 

Treadmills in a gym are also an answer, especially if you prefer to mix in more weighted leg activities to include machines and heavier weights.

Another option in the gym to add to cardio leg muscle stamina is to replace the treadmill with a Stairmaster, high-elevation elliptical machine or hill-mode treadmill. Adding hills to this workout takes it to the next level in working the lungs and legs.

Top It Off with a Swim (with Fins)

For the candidates preparing to serve in Marine Recon, MARSOC, Army Combat Diver School, Navy or Air Force Special Warfare units, where swimming is not only a testing event, but a major part of training, we added the following swim workout:

  • Swim 500-meter warmup combat side stroke (CSS), freestyle or tread water 10 minutes
  • Swim 2,000 meters, with fins for time, CSS or lead arm/trail arm (LATA)

Cool down with treading and mixing in some dynamic stretches in chest deep water to loosen the legs after a tough leg day. 

Logical Progressions

You may want to build up to this 10-set option and perhaps try a few four- to five-set versions of the above workout before jumping into an hourlong run/ruck/leg workout your first time. Your legs will thank you. 

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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