Leap-Year Liftoff

With longer days looming, it's high time to build stronger, faster legs

Apr 1, 2000
Outside Magazine

Free-weight moves to gear up your gams for summer

Virtually every summer sport enjoyed outside the confines of a kayak recruits some combination of the lower body's eight major muscles—and even kayaking calls on some of them—so overall strength is important. But cycling, in-line skating, and volleyball all come with their own finicky demands (skating, for example, relies heavily on the otherwise little-used adductors of the inner thighs). Thus our three-month conditioning regimen combines general leg exercises with different drills for the different sports. Each of the three distinct phases—mass, strength, and power—lasts four weeks. No matter which of the three sport-specific routines you choose, you should follow the schedule at right, and hit the gym five days a week except during the fourth week of each phase, when you'll skip the weights altogether and head outdoors to play. Preface each weight workout with a five- or ten-minute aerobic warm-up and finish with a few minutes of stretching. You'll want to lift weights that are heavy enough to bring you to failure by the last rep of each set. Rest between lifts for twice as long as it takes to complete a single repetition, and rest for three minutes after each set.


In the first three weeks, do three sets of 15 repetitions of leg exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and two sets of 15 torso drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays (see list below). On Saturday, add an extra hour of activity to your sport-specific cardio schedule. Rest on Sunday. In week four, stay away from the weight room and bust outdoors to practice your chosen sport three days a week, including an extended aerobic outing on the weekend.

In the first two weeks, do three sets of six reps of leg exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and do two sets of 20 reps of torso exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Again, cut the weights in week four, replacing those sessions with practice in your sport.

For the first three weeks, do three sets of ten reps of the leg exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and continue with two sets of 20 torso exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cut back by 20 percent the amount of weight you lift and, with the exception of the Good Mornings (see description below), lift that weight as quickly and explosively as possible, but take care to lower it slowly. By the fourth week, your weight room days will be behind you, and you'll be celebrating your own Independence Day in the great outdoors.

ONE-LEGGED DEAD LIFT (From a standing position, bend at the waist, place your right hand on a chair, and extend your right leg behind you. Holding a dumbbell in your free hand, bend your supporting knee and lower the weight to the floor, and then resume standing position. Switch sides and repeat.)

GOOD MORNINGS (From a standing position, place a barbell behind your neck, bend forward at the waist until your trunk is parallel with the ground, and return to an upright position.)


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