Friday Favorite: Leg Day and Cardio

Mixing in some form of cardio activity with leg day is nothing new when doing calisthenics (squats, lunges, jumps, etc.). When adding weights, you may want to consider a few changes, depending on what you are lifting (squat/deadlifts/machines) and how much you are lifting.

First of all, warming up is important. Here is one of our classic warmups that includes short jogs, dynamic stretches and calisthenics squats (no weight) for 5-10 minutes:

The Squat and Jog Half Pyramid Warmup: Do 1 squat, nice and slow, and jog 100 meters; do 2 squats, jog 100 meters; 3 squats, jog 100 meters … keep going up the pyramid until you reach the 10th set. Mix in a few dynamic stretches for the first or last 25 meters of each 100-meter jog. This totals 55 squats and 1,000 meters of jogging and dynamic movement. If you are looking for a good leg day warmup, this is great prior to lifting, running or rucking.

Depending on the movement, I first like to do the tougher ones that require strict technique and skill acquisition. It is up to you whether you want to go heavy with the deadlifts, but go light with the lunges if you do.

Personally, I keep the weight at body weight or 1.5x body weight for workouts like this. As you can see, there is much more to it than just lifting. For the lunges, we carry an individual 40- to 50-lb. sandbag at chest level to simulate walking lunges with a group log event.

Repeat 3 times
Deadlifts: 5-10
Chest carry lunges: 10 per leg

Ruck or Run 4 miles: Do you run or ruck first? Well, that is up to you and what you want to focus on. My advice is to first do the activity where you really need to see improvements. The second event can be the one you are already good at performing so the workout can be in more of a maintenance mode. You will find whatever you do second will be more difficult due to energy levels and overall work completed already.

If you have any gas left in the tank and are not sweating profusely (becoming dehydrated or cramping), add in some moderate speed work. This is not necessarily a sprint, but faster than a jog or goal pace run. Maybe in the 75-80% max effort zone. For older guys like me, I have discovered that, when it comes to sprinting, 80% is the new 100% if you want to prevent the typical hamstring or Achilles pulls that will happen at 100%.

Repeat 5-6 times
Run: 200 meters fast
Farmer walks: 100 meters. Walk with a kettlebell in one hand for 50 meters. Change hands and walk 50 meters back to start.
KB: swings 20
KB: squats 10

Non-impact Cooldown: For the next 15-20 minutes, bike or swim for an easy-paced cardio workout, followed by stretching, especially if you feel any tightness from the movements above.

Note: This is one of our Fall Transition workouts as we move through our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization programming. See 20 years Periodization Model article for more information on how this style of training works for tactical athletes.

— 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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