Without weights, most trainers would tell you to do endless reps of body-weight squats and lunges for legs. Fortunately, Men's Fitness contributor Ben Bruno isn’t one of those trainers. Bruno has one of the most creative—and, perhaps, devious—minds in fitness, and he’s designed a workout that may bring tears to your eyes while it adds muscle to your thighs. We can’t promise you’ll enjoy this routine, but we can assure you that it’s not like any you’ve done before.
How it works The muscles of the legs are stubborn. They carry you around everywhere, so it takes more than body-weight squats to convince them they need to get stronger. This workout brings the pain with moves that ask the legs to work independently or without the benefit of locking the knees out (which lets them rest momentarily during a set). Correcting imbalances in your legs and keeping tension on them for prolonged periods will burn like hell, but you’ll be amazed you could get such results without putting a barbell on your back, or doing the same old exercises that didn’t work before.
Directions Perform the exercise pairs (marked “A” and “B”) as alternating sets. So you’ll do a set of A, rest, then a set of B, rest again, and continue for all the prescribed sets.
Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned out. Bend your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Immediately jump as high as you can. When you land, reset your feet and then begin the next rep.
Sets: 3 Reps: Hold for 30 sec. (each side) Rest: 30 sec.
Kneel down in a lunge position with your right leg in front, and rest your back knee on a towel or mat, if available. Extend your left hand above your head and let your right hand hang at your side. Contract your left glute and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 30 seconds.
Stand on your right leg and pick your left one up off the floor. Raise both arms in front of you to act as a counterbalance. If you have light weights or something similar to help you keep your balance, use it. Bend your hips and knee and lower your body as low as you can. Come back up.
Lie on your back on the floor and bend your knees so your feet rest on the floor close to your butt. Brace your abs and drive your heels into the floor to raise your hips into the air. From there, walk your feet out in a V shape, taking small steps with your heels forward and away from the midline of your body. Keep your hips up. Continue until your legs are extended and then walk them back in. That’s one rep.
Take a big step forward with your left leg and lower your rear knee to just above the floor. Come halfway back up and then go down again. Come all the way back up, and then step forward with the right leg and repeat.
Lie on your back on the floor and bend both knees so that your feet rest on the floor close to your butt. Brace your abs and raise one leg up and bring the knee toward your chest. Drive the heel of the other foot into the floor. Bridge up until your body is in a straight line.
Sets: 2 Reps: Hold for 30–60 sec. (each side) Rest: 60 sec.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Stand lunge-length in front of a bench and rest the top of your right foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to it. Hold the position.