Legs and cardio. Two workouts that many guys dread even thinking about, but two vital training elements that must be done — and done with conviction — to achieve any respectable level of fitness.
Your Mission: Block off an hour or so and get your legs and cardio done. Rinse and repeat.
Featured Trainer: Aaron Marks is a Marine Corps veteran who served four years as a machine gunner with 2nd BN, 8th Marines in Camp Lejeune, NC. Now living in Portland, OR, he’s also a programming adviser and athlete for Hard to Kill Fitness and a full-time member of the Bravo Sierra team.
Equipment Needed: “NBB” (Nothing But Bodyweight), though resistance can be added via free weights or a weighted vest if available.
Time Commitment: Around 40 to 50 minutes, including a warmup and 20 minutes of cardio.
Workout Overview: There’s nothing fancy here, and that’s by design. The best leg days and cardio workouts are always the most basic ones. In Marks’ “Hard to Kill” workout, you’ll be hitting the entire lower body with foundational movements and a unilateral emphasis, followed by a moderate dose of cardio.
It doesn’t get any more bare bones than Bulgarian split squats, Romanian deadlifts, and running. An efficient warmup starts the routine for muscle priming and mobility, and isolation work for the glutes, calves, and anterior tibialis (shins) follows the deadlifts.
“This is a great workout to keep in your back pocket for any time you need a quick leg day with some low-intensity cardio,” Marks says. “The beauty of a simple workout like this is that just about anyone can do it, just about anywhere. If you want to make it fun, you can always add weight or equipment to intensify it. Whether you’re adding resistance bands or a weighted vest to the workout, the possibilities are endless.”
‘Hard to Kill’ Legs and Cardio Warmup
|Jog or Run in Place||2 min.|
|Knee Squeeze with Glute Bridge||10 sec.|
|Standing Full-body Twist||12 reps|
|Groiner||5 reps (each side)|
|Groiner Thoracic Twist||5 reps (each side)|
|Hip Flexor Wave||6 reps (each side)|
|Squat-to-toe Touch||6 reps|
|Cossack Squat*||6 reps (each side)|
|Standing Quad Stretch||4 reps (each side)|
|Band Pull Aparts**||8 reps|
|*If you can’t perform Cossack squats, perform seated toe touches with your legs spread wide apart instead.|
|**If you don’t have resistance bands, mimic the movement and incorporate arm circles as well.|
‘Hard to Kill’ Warmup Demo
Aaron Marks’ ‘Hard to Kill’ Legs and Cardio Workout
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||8 per side||1 min.|
|Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift||3||10 per side||1 min.|
|Single-Leg Hip Bridge||3||10 per side||1 min.|
|Single-Leg Standing Calf Raise||3||15 per side||No rest|
|superset with Tibialis Raise||3||15||No Rest|
Perform 20 to 40 minutes of continuous low-intensity cardio with the activity of your choice (preferably running).
What to Know About the ‘Hard to Kill’ Workout
- Marks prefers to do his conditioning in the morning—before his first meal—but may opt to go to a local track or just find a space in a parking garage, to do the above workout in its entirety, then finish with 20 minutes of cardio.
- The cardio portion of your workout should last 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how much time you have set aside. But make 20 minutes your minimum!
- This entire workout can be done using only your bodyweight, but for a greater challenge, add resistance. Bulgarian split squats and single-leg Romanian deadlifts can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell. Hip bridges can be done holding a weight (a dumbbell or barbell) on top of your hips. Standing calf raises can be done holding a dumbbell or on a standing calf-raise machine if you’re at a gym. Or, the entire workout can be done wearing a weighted vest.