Road Ready Legs

Lower body resistance training to power your outdoor activities

Jeff Aker
Photo: Graham McKerrell

With another winter checked off the books, it’s time to shake the dust off your bike and hit the road or the mountains during this short but oh-so-sweet outdoor season.

To make the most of it, consider working out in the weight room to benefit your performance and meet your outdoor goals. This lower body workout is designed to complement the muscular demands of activities like cycling and hiking as well as providing a counter to the repetitive stress that can be associated with them.


Choose any exercises that move the ankles and hips, prepare the nervous system and fire up the leg muscles. For example, split kneeling stretching, bodyweight hinge patterns and bird-dog type movements come to mind for this workout.

The Workout

Each of these exercises should be done at a moderate speed to maintain position and muscular demand.

Barbell Wide-Grip Rack Pull

2-4 sets | 5-8 repetitions

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Grab barbell (from rack) with a wide grip. Keep weight balanced evenly over feet and lift, keeping back straight as you move into an upright position. Lean chest forward as you lower the barbell. Keep mid-back active as you bend at the hips.

  • Beginner: Use broomstick (no weight)
  • Intermediate: Moderate grip/moderate range of motion
  • Advanced: Wider grip/increased range of motion/increased load
Barbell Wide-Grip Rack Pull
[/media-credit] Photo: Graham McKerrell

Cable Loaded Split Squat

2-4 sets | 6-8 repetitions each leg

Add resistance weight to cable machine. Grab cable handle and stand with one foot forward in a wide stance. Lower into a lunge position, resisting pull of cable weight. Front knee should bend over front foot. Lunge with a tall upper body position, an even load on the lead foot and a comfortable knee position throughout. Stand back up and repeat.

  • Beginner: Bodyweight load
  • Intermediate: Cable load set around knee height/standard tempo/standard range of motion
  • Advanced: Increased load/increased range of motion
Cable Loaded Split Squat
[/media-credit] Photo: Graham McKerrell

Bodyweight Nordic Curl

2-4 sets | 8-10 repetitions

Kneel on a mat with hands on chest. Bend forward from the hips as far as possible without falling, while sitting back slightly above the calves. Keep your body upright and trunk stiff throughout the descent and ascent. Glutes and hamstrings will be powering your ascent, allowing hip flexors to stretch.

  • Beginner: Wider stance/shorter forward lean/upper body support
  • Intermediate: Moderate stance/longer forward lean
  • Advanced: Narrow stance/as far a forward lean as you can get
Bodyweight Nordic Curl
[/media-credit] Photo: Graham McKerrell

Kneeling Plank

2-4 sets | 8-10 breath count or for time

Kneel on a mat while holding a kettlebell behind your back with both hands. Keep torso upright. Hunch forward slightly from the shoulders only, then straighten up and lift as much as possible. Keep hips still and core tight throughout, elbows close to the body and shoulders open.

  • Beginner: Bodyweight/short-moderate durations
  • Intermediate: Moderate load/moderate-higher duration
  • Advanced: Higher load/higher duration
Kneeling Plank
[/media-credit] Photo: Graham McKerrell

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

2-4 sets | 6-8 repetitions each leg

Hold kettlebell in right hand and put weight on left foot. With back straight, lean forward from the hips and raise right leg while lowering kettlebell to the ground or step. Return to standing. Keep a straight back throughout. Drive through the weighted foot to load the glutes/hamstrings.

  • Beginner: Bodyweight load/shorter ranges of motion/rear foot assistance
  • Intermediate: Moderate load/ranges of motion
  • Advanced: Increased load/range of motion
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
[/media-credit] Photo: Graham McKerrell.

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