“My Absolute Favorite Thing That I Do With All Of My Athletes”—Finish Your Next Workout With This NASM Trainer’s Leg Circuit

Woman performs skater jump
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Burpees aren’t the be-all and end-all of conditioning moves. There are plenty of ways to test your muscular endurance and cardio capacity without repeatedly dropping your chest to the floor. 

“My absolute favorite thing that I do with all of my athletes is something called a leg circuit,” says Wendy Batts, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) master instructor and assistant professor in exercise science at PennWest California. 

It’s a combination of four different leg exercises performed as a circuit without any rest. 

“It will increase your heart rate, it will make your legs burn, and if you can do it without any rest it will absolutely crush you. You can thank me for that later.” 

How To Do This Leg Circuit

Three rounds of:

  1. Prisoner squat x20
  2. Alternating lunge x10 on each leg
  3. Power step-up x10 on each leg
  4. Tuck jump x10

Perform the exercises above as a circuit as quickly as you can without sacrificing good form. 

If you’re new to Batts’ variation of prisoner squats, it’s worth noting that you need to keep your hands on your head throughout and come up on to your toes at the top of each rep to activate your calf muscles. 

As demonstrated in the video above, you can also vary each exercise in this workout to train different planes of motion: sagittal (moving up, down, forward and backward), frontal (moving from side to side) and transverse (rotational movements). This will more accurately mirror both everyday and sporting movements, helping you develop functional strength and athleticism. 

To prioritize the frontal plane, keep the rep scheme the same and perform side-to-side squats, lateral lunges, sideways box step-overs and skater jumps. For a transverse plane workout, add a rotational element at the top of each movement.

Tips For Tackling This Workout 

This workout is a race against the clock. It challenges you to complete a high volume of work with minimal rest, putting your heart and lungs to work while testing the muscular endurance of your legs. But you should never sacrifice technique for speed.

“You’re doing it as fast as you can control, not as fast as you can,” says Batts. “I think that’s super important, because anybody can do something, but are you doing it correctly? You need to be very intentional with your movement patterns.”

Batts also advises ensuring you can perform each of the individual components of this routine with perfect form before bringing them together for an added challenge.

“It’s definitely a more advanced workout,” says Batts. “You want to make sure you can go piece by piece first. This is a very advanced leg circuit that you can do at home, but even advanced athletes need to be prepared for being a little sore the next day.”

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.