Leg Circuits Exercises

Most of these leg circuit training exercises are shown in the typical format that we suggest you can do. For some an added Level 2 and sometimes Level 3 are given, which are a little harder. These should only be tried once you are competent at the previous level and want more of a challenge. Always reduce the number of repetitions when you make an exercise harder until you are confident with it.

The videos below can be found at the Momentum Sports Youtube page, which has many demonstrations of circuits and weights exercises.

Full Leg Exercises

Full leg exercises are very useful for replicating the lactic acid build up of a race without the cardiovascular workout. Burpees, Treadmills, Lunges and Jump Lunges are particularly good for that.

Treadmills

Start in the press up position and alternately bring your knees up towards your elbows in an action similar to running. Try to ensure you don't lift your backside too high.

Lunges

Step forwards and as you do so, drop the rear knee towards the floor, always ensuring that your trunk is kept upright throughout the exercise.

Start with just a few steps and build up to about 20m over a number of sessions.

Burpees

A burpee is basically a combination of two other exercises. You start with your body in the same position as that of a squat thrust and then, keeping back as flat as possible, bring your feet towards your hands in a jumping motion. It is important to keep your knees between your elbows.

From here, keeping your back straight, jump up and on return to the ground return to the position you took off from. Finally, return to the starting position with the reverse motion of that which took your knees to between your elbows.

Level 2: This exercise can only be made harder by increasing the speed and power of the efforts - there are no additions to the technique that can sensibly be made.

Side to Side Jumps

This exercise is good for speed of movement and co-ordination. Put simply, just place a marker on the floor and jump from side to side over it. To assist with being able to do these efficently and fast, try not to move your upper body too much, and just move your legs over the barrier (a little like slalom skiing).

To increase the difficulty of the exercise either raise the level of the item you are jumping over or increase your speed.

Twist Jumps

Twist jumps involve starting in one position, jumping to face in the opposite direction, and then jumping back the way you came to get back to the start position. Controlling the twist and co-ordination is important here. After a few goes start the pairs of jumps in the opposite direction

Level 2: Try to turn 360 degrees when jumping.

Jump Lunges

Take a large step forward into the starting position. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, keeping the upper body upright. Drop the back knee so it is just above the floor. The legs should both be at a 90 degree angle.

Now jump into the air, so that both feet take off and land at the same time, while alternating the lead foot.

Level: Advanced

Muscles used: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluts and calves

Specific: Strength, speed and Power

Static Lunges

These are very similar to the walking lunges, but are a little more advanced as you need more strength to push up to where you started.

Again, ensure that your body remains upright as you do the exercise.

High Walks

This is a fairly straightforward exercise. Basically, all you are looking to do is 'run' on the spot, but at walking pace. This means it ends up feeling a bit like marching on the spot.

Although it doesn't look like it on the video, you should be going up onto your toes on each stride.

Upper Leg Exercises

These leg exercises work the upper legs, with similar results to the full leg exercises.

Squat Thrusts

Get into the press up position. Keeping your back as flat as possible, bring your feet towards your hands in a jumping motion and return to starting position rhythmically. Ensure that yuour knees stay between your arms and that your back remains flat.

Split Squat Thrusts

As squat thrusts, but just one leg at a time.

Half Squats

For this exercise, your feet need to be at hip width or slightly further apart, with your feet pointing forwards or just slightly turned out. Keeping your back flat and head facing forward, bend your knees until your upper and lower legs are at 90 degrees. Ensure that your knees travel in line with your feet and that your heels remain flat to the floor throughout. Avoid locking your knees when your legs are straight.

Level 2: Hold a weight in front (centrally), or hold a bar bell across your shoulders.

Squat Jumps

As above, your feet need to be at hip width or slightly further apart, with your feet pointing forwards or just slightly turned out. Keeping your back flat and head facing forward, bend your knees until your upper and lower legs are at 90 degrees. Ensure that your knees travel in line with your feet and that your heels remain flat to the floor throughout. Avoid locking your the knees when legs are straight.

From the lowest point, jump up and try to get a decent height.

Tuck Jumps

Again, your feet need to be at hip width or slightly further apart, with your feet pointing forwards or just slightly turned out. Keeping your back flat and head facing forward, bend your knees until your upper and lower legs are at 90 degrees. Ensure that your knees travel in line with your feet and that your heels remain flat to the floor throughout. Avoid locking your the knees when legs are straight.

From the lowest point, jump up and tuck your knees up to your chest.

Side to Side Squats

Stand with feet about shoulder with apart. Drop to one side so that your weight is being borne by that leg, while you should be up on your toes on the other foot. Use your arms as if you were running. Rise up and drop to the other side and back up again - this is one repetition of the exercise.

Try to do this rythmically, as you would with a full running action.

Lower Leg Exercises

Lower leg exercises are often neglected both for weights and circuits and it is no co-incidence that this part of the body is particularly susceptible to injury for runners.

Calf Raises

Straight leg: Keeping your legs straight, drop the heels as low as you can, and then push as high as you can onto your toes.

Level: Beginner

Muscles used: Gastrocnemius calf muscle higher up toward the back of knee

Specific: Muscular endurance, strength

Single Leg Calf Raises

Stand on one leg and, keeping your leg straight, drop the heel as low as you can, and then push as high as you can onto your toes.

Level: Beginner

Muscles used: Gastrocnemius calf muscle higher up toward the back of knee

Specific: Muscular endurance, strength

Bent Leg Calf Raises

Same as the straight leg calf raises, but this time keeping the legs bent - working on the soleus muscle of the calf lower down. This muscle is normally overlooked, and it is in fact important to keep it strong and mobile, in order to maintain a healthy Achilles tendon

Level: beginner

Muscles used: Soleus and Gastrocnemius

Specific: Muscular endurance, strength

Single Bent Leg Calf Raises

Same as the single straight leg calf raises, but this time keeping the leg bent - working on the soleus muscle of the calf lower down.

Level: beginner

Muscles used: Soleus and Gastrocnemius

Specific: Muscular endurance, strength

Toe Lift Centre

Designed to strengthen the muscles that help the foot perform dorsi flexion, this is an exercise that is greatly underused. It is not difficult, but can make a significant difference to a runner. All that is required is to lift your toes as high as possible, while keeping your heels on the floor at all times.

Toe Lifts In

This exercise is the same as the 'Toe Lift Centre', but this time your feet will be pointing inwards.

Toe Lifts Out

This exercise is the same as the 'Toe Lift Centre', but this time your feet will be pointing outwards.

Calf Jumps

While bouncing on the spot, lift your toes upwards towards your shins.

Jump Lunges

You will find yourself tiring quickly while doing this exercise, so keep it light at first! Go into a lunge position, with your back knee not quite touching the floor. Then, jump high and swap legs in mid-air so that you land in the opposite lunge position. Make sure to pause between each one and allow yourself to 'sink' into a proper lunge position before jumping again - this ensures that you fully work your leg muscles.

Split Touch Jumps

The starting position for this is fairly similar to that of 'Jump Lunges', but the lunges doesn't need to be as 'deep'. This time, your feet will meet in the middle before swapping legs and ending the repetition on the opposite side. The contact time on the ground in the middle should be as short as possible.


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