Jen Rulon

Sidenote: As you may know, I am a HUGE advocate of strength training for triathletes. I even self-published a book on Amazon! As you may be heading into the off-season, I highly recommend getting in the gym. Even if you are not in the off-season, get in the gym! Are you looking for additional programs? Check out my 15-week Strength Program for Triathletes

Five Exercises for Leg Day for the Triathlete

Training the legs is something of a hot topic among athletes. Gymgoers who ‘skip leg day’ are often referred to unfavorably and for a good reason; heck, Google “Skinny Leg Meme.” Training the legs has knock-on benefits throughout the body, whereas leaving them out makes you look disproportional and odd.

The question then is why so many people leave their legs out of their routine in the first place. And the answer is a) Legs are dull, b) Legs are hard to train, and c) I bike and run. Some triathletes don’t have to do legs for their routine because they do plenty on the bike and run. It is quite the opposite.

Simply put, your legs don’t have hands attached to them. And this means it’s harder to pick up a weight, thus meaning you have to load yourself up some other way and involve the whole body. That instantly reduces the number of exercises available to you and implies that leg exercises take up more space and leave you much more tired.

And it also makes it much harder to train your legs with body weight alone. But there are ways to teach the legs, even if you don’t have a gym. Read on to discover some of the best of them:

Jumping Squats

One of the simplest ways to train your legs with your body weight alone is to use jumping squats. This means that you’re squatting down and then jumping at the apex. This is a simple exercise, and you wouldn’t think it would make a huge difference, but it is excellent for building up power and can quickly create a burn, thanks to the amount of acceleration involved.

Box Jumps

Box jumps require even more power to launch you high enough into the air, especially if you stack them high. However, this is in some ways just as challenging as a squat and a great way to build hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips.

Jumping Lunges

This is simply a lunge where you jump, switch legs in mid-air, and then land with your legs in the opposite position. Doing this is a great way to build strength in the hamstrings and, again, involves jumping to create more acceleration.

Lunge Walking

You are simply walking by, stepping from one lunge into the next. Lunge Walk is an effective workout because you’re plunging deep in between and spending most of your time under tension.

Single-Leg Squat (Pistols)

Another way to make the squat more challenging with just body weight is to do it on just one leg. However, this requires twice the strength and also forces you to balance a lot as well. A more advanced version is the ‘pistol squat,’ which requires your foot to be flat on the ground while the other is pointed straight out in front of you, with your toes facing up.

Side Squat

This exercise falls between a squat and a lunge and involves stepping out to one side, lunging deep, and then stepping back to the middle before repeating on the other side.

As triathletes, be mindful that we don’t want to be “trashing” our legs on leg day and do ALL of these exercises, but these are examples you can knock out at the gym or home!

Check out my 15-week Strength Program for Triathletes


The Triathlete and Costa Rica!
AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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