‘Leg day’; two short words that can strike fear into the hearts and hamstrings of even the most seasoned fitness fanatics. The exercises are needlessly difficult, the gains are harder to see and there’s not even much variety when it comes to the endless leg lifts and lunges.
But don’t despair. We put the problem that is leg day to Gentleman’s Journal fitness expert James Stirling, AKA Instagram’s @london_fitness_guy, and asked him how he’d add a little more energy to your usual sits and squats.
“When it comes to home exercise,” says Stirling, “it can be pretty dull doing the same exercises over and over again. Adding variety will ensure your workout is enjoyable — and, if it’s enjoyable, you’ll want to do it again. The result? Consistency. So, even though the dreaded leg day is the least enjoyable session of the week, here’s a five-exercise circuit to help you build a stronger lower body — and keep it fresh!”
Exercise #1: Knee to Sit
This one’s a real burner for your glutes, and has you feeling like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Aim for 10 reps.
- Start off with both knees on your mat
- Bring one leg forward, and put your foot flat on the mat
- Do the same with the other foot, keeping your body in a fixed squat hold
- Hold it. You should feel like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair
- To finish your first rep, return one foot to your start position
- Repeat, leading with the opposite foot each time
Exercise #2: Single Leg Glute Bridge
This is a great exercise to build strength in your glutes. Try to complete 15 of the below reps before switching to your opposite side.
- Start by laying flat on your back
- Plant one foot to the mat (knee bent) and the other leg pointed up
- Drive your hips upwards until you form a bridge position
- Slowly return to the mat
Exercise #3: Plyometric Lunge
This exercise is a favourite of mine. It lifts your heart rate and works on some explosive power. Set a timer for 30-40 seconds, and see how many you can do.
- Start off in the lunge position
- Jump to the opposite leg and repeat
- Do as many jump lunges as you can!
Exercise #4: Wall Sit
There’s a lot to be said for holds — they’re the ultimate in time-under-tension training and will build strength like no other exercise.
- Start with your back flush against a wall
- Slide down until you are in a seated position
- Maintain this 90-degree angle from your back to your knees
- Hold for 30-40 seconds
Exercise #5: Single Leg RDL
This last one’s a real test of balance and stability. Think deadlift, but without the weights! The key to this movement is the ‘hinge’ from your hip. Repeat the below 10 times, and then swap legs.
- Start in a standing position and bend one leg
- Maintaining a neutral spine, push your hips backwards
- Keep your fixed leg straight while you do this
- Lower yourself to the ground until you feel the stretch in your hamstring
- Return to stand