Legs can be attacked in so many ways and in so many workouts. I am certainly a fan of squats, deadlifts, and hack squats; however, these less conventional exercises have been tremendously useful for the professional athletes I train. The following series of exercises has a more bodyweight-centric focus. My athletes tend to look for a wider range of movements while reducing the risk of weight induced injury, which is especially important late in a training camp.
These exercises will help with developing suddenness and speed when coupled on an existing strong base.
Single Leg Box Jumps
The one legged box jump is a challenging exercise. The one legged box jump is a great exercise to develop the explosive power in the legs. Proprioception, suddenness, balance and psychological pathways are all worked in this exercise.
This movement clearly puts the effort on the single leg, so there is not a dominant leg that can “assist” with the work, as is the case when there are 2 involved. Changing box height will change resistance. Be especially careful to warm up properly as this is such a sudden movement, the soleus and Achilles tendon need to be warmed up.
Suggested Repetitions: 5 per leg per set… careful not to get too tired since injuries can occur.
These are a fantastic hip, glute & quad developer.
The key here is to not change levels as you walk thru the shot / lunge (so you never stand up straight). Keeping your head on the same level as you move thru the exercise is the key. Also, make the movements slower and more deliberate, don’t try and rush through this movement. Drive those knees forward, keeping head / eyes on same level. The back knee should touch the ground
Suggested Repetitions: 8 reps out and 8 reps return per set.
Lateral walks are a great movement as it is difficult to mimic this movement. I have not seen a machine or exercise that develops the lateral musculature of the legs and stabilizers that work better than this one.
Slow and deep is best “thought” when performing these. The key is to not change levels at all. Pick a spot on the wall and keep your head / eyes on the same level as you transfer energy side to side.
Suggested Repetitions: 8 reps out and 8 reps return
Jump and Double Squat
These are a great exercise when compounded with the Lunge shots and Lateral slides. Simple exercise.
Squat, jump and then double squat when you land… jump again and double squat when you land. You can increase the difficulty of this by really exploding on the jump. Switching between height or distance as the goal.
Suggested Repetitions: 20 reps
Hamstring Curls on Swiss Ball
This is a great movement for hamstrings and glutes! Obviously this will require a Swiss Ball.
Resting your heels on the Swiss Ball, roll your heels back on the ball while driving your hips up and bridging up on your shoulder / neck. Hold the movement at the top and really squeeze your glutes for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Suggested Repetitions: Higher rep exercise – 20 to 25 reps.
Single Leg Hamstring Curls on Swiss Ball
This exercise is similar in nature to the 2 legged version. However when doing the “single leg” version, the exercise is way more difficult.
Resting your heel on the Swiss ball, perform the exercise while rolling your heel on the Swiss ball and driving the knee and hip towards the ceiling. Keeping your balance here is a major challenge and being “off plane” will also have your stabilizers firing while attacking the hamstring glute areas. Be sure to hold the movement at the top for a few seconds before returning to the bottom of the exercise.
Suggested Repetitions: 7 to 10 reps per leg
Hamstring Fast Twitch Speed Movements
This exercise is designed for all out speed and attacks the hamstring / glute areas. Be sure you are well warmed up and stretched for this one. You will need a surface that will allow your heel to move quickly, back and forth, while on a towel. Here you can see we are using a wood floor and a towel. You can also use a lifting platform as that surface is also a wood floor and works well.
The key here is speed. While one foot is planted flat on the floor, your goal is to drive the other back and forth as fast as possible, looking for reps of 15 to 20 on each leg. This exercise will blow out “hammys” for sure.
Suggested Repetitions: High rep exercise of 20 to 30 reps
Single Leg Box Lunges
Single Leg Box Lunges are great as they always keep the leg under attack, as long as you do not lock out at the top of the movement. As usual, I prefer exercises where I can work the intended area in isolation and off balance as the residual results are always worth it.
The key here is making sure that the knee that you are squatting on is always behind the toe-line of your shoe (this will reduce the strain on the knee and load up the leg in the areas as intended). Slowing this exercise down and holding it in different areas for a static attack on the leg is also loads of fun.
Suggested Repetitions: 10 to 12 reps
This is a great movement for a leg workout that also really can tax the cardio system.
The goal here is to get as much height as possible with the jump in between the lunges. The higher you jump, the heavier the load. Also be sure to go as deep as possible with the lunge. Safety key here, as usual when lunging, always try and be sure your forward knee stays behind your toe-line as this helps to remove undesirable stress to the knee joint
Suggested Repetitions: 15 to 20 rep range per leg.