A 55-Minute Lower-Body Workout With Strength and Cardio Intervals

by Melissa Weigelt, MS on May 17, 2017

Class Take-Out

Add variety to your lower-body workouts.

Help your students improve lower-body strength by taking them through unique variations of the lunge, squat and dead lift. Round out the routine with some basic choreography to rev up heart rates and burn extra calories. Play with tempo, range of motion, power moves and compound exercises to get the most out of your students.

Rock Bottom Details

Format: lower-body strength and cardio intervals

Time: 55 minutes

Equipment needed: step, weighted bar, tubing

Music: 125–130 beats per minute

Class setup: This workout features three blocks of exercises. Each block includes

  • three lower-body strength exercises;
  • 3 minutes of slightly choreographed, moderate-intensity cardio; and
  • a 1-minute anaerobic cardio challenge.

Additional details:

  • Select exercises that require core stabilization, for a more functional approach.
  • Include work in all planes of motion.
  • Eccentrically load select moves to increase intensity.
  • Build in variety and challenge over time by adjusting exercise order, load and reps.
  • Provide progressions and regressions.
  • Suggest that students cross-train to allow adequate rest between sessions.
  • Provide low-impact options for the cardio segment.
  • Use the rating of perceived exertion scale (1–10) to guide intensity levels for the cardio sections. Recommend that students work at a level 5 or 6 for the 3-minute cardio intervals and a level 7 or 8 for the anaerobic challenge.

Warm-Up (5 minutes)

Do 8 reps of each exercise, and then repeat the full sequence twice.

  • inchworm (Hinge from hips and bring hands to floor, walk hands forward to plank, and return to start.)
  • pushup alternating with side plank (modification: knees down)
  • squat
  • alternating front lunge
  • burpee (no hop)

Work Phase (45 minutes)

Block One

Strength With Weighted Bar

Do 12 reps of each exercise:

  • Romanian dead lift: Hold bar in front of thighs (pronated grip) and hinge from hips until bar reaches knee level; return to start.
  • Hack dead lift: Hold bar behind legs (pronated grip) and perform dead lift until bar reaches back of knees.
  • Overhead front lunge: Hold bar overhead with wide grip, and step forward into lunge (alternate).

Cardio Intervals

  • Double step-touch, right and left; 8×.
  • After each double step-touch, add squat at each end (step toward center); 8×.
  • Change squat to plyometric jump squat; 8×.

Anaerobic Challenge

  • Plyometric jump squat, 16×.
  • Alignment tips:
  • Maintain extended spine on dead lifts.
  • Brace core to stabilize spine on overhead front lunge.

Block Two

Strength With Step

Do 12 reps of each exercise, R-leg lead:

  • Rear lunge to superman: Do rear lunge from top of step, then lift into superman position, extending rear leg while hinging forward from hips.
  • Side squat: From top of step, squat off side and return to top.
  • Single-leg plank with knee tuck: With hands on step, hold one-legged plank, then hop foot in toward bench and return to start.

Cardio Intervals (R-Leg Lead)

  • Walk forward 3, knee-up 1, walk back 3, knee-up 1; 8×.
  • Walk forward 3, alternating knee-up 3, walk back 3, alternating knee-up 3; 8×.
  • Walk forward 3, knee-up 1, high-knee jog 4×, walk back 3, knee-up 1, high-knee jog 4×; 8×.

Anaerobic Challenge

  • High-knee jog, 16×. Repeat all with L-leg lead.
  • Alignment tips:
  • Maintain neutral spine on superman.
  • Avoid excessive hip hinge on squat.

Block Three

Strength With Tubing

Do 12 reps of each exercise, R-leg lead:

  • Rear lunge: Start on top of bench, tubing under R foot. Step L leg back to rear lunge and return to start.
  • One-legged squat: Balance on R leg while doing squat (tubing is under R foot).
  • One-legged dead lift: Do dead lift with tubing under R foot, handles at chest; extend L leg parallel to floor; return to start.

Cardio Intervals

  • Do V-step, R leg, 4; repeater knee, L leg, 7; 8× (alternating lead leg).
  • Change V-step to bound forward and step back; 8×.

Anaerobic Challenge

  • Bound up and back, 16×. Repeat all (strength segment will be L-leg lead).
  • Alignment tips:
  • Keep heel down on one-legged squat.
  • Maintain neutral spine on dead lift.

Cool-Down and Stretch (5 minutes)

Hold each of the following stretches for 30 seconds, cycling through the sequence twice:

  • Standing quadriceps stretch R; repeat L.
  • Standing forward fold with chest expansion—clasp hands behind back and lift arms while folding.
  • Standing lateral flexion: Reach arms overhead and lean R; repeat L.
  • Calf stretch: From split stance, hinge forward slightly while keeping rear foot down; repeat on opposite side.
  • Standing pigeon stretch: Balance R leg, and cross L leg over R thigh. Bend base-leg knee, and hinge forward from hips; repeat L.

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About the Author

Melissa Weigelt, MS

Melissa Weigelt, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

I am owner of Flow Fitness Training and provide AFAA and ACE approved continuing education programs for fitness instructors, specializing in strength training, stability training, functional fitness, and interval training. I am a National Master Trainer for BOSU and SURGE. I have been teaching fitness for 20 years and love helping my students to be fit and healthy. I also truly enjoy sharing my knowledge with other fitness professionals.