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Three Tough-As-Nails Bodyweight Leg Exercises

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Photographs: Sam Riley

Squats and lunges are excellent bodyweight moves, but after a while many of us may feel like we need to add weight to ensure each exercise provides enough of a challenge. Well, before you open your wallet and invest in free weights for your home set-up, or sign up for your local gym, try these variations from trainer Tyrone Brennand (opens in new tab).

We recently went on a two-day retreat to try the new Reebok Nano X1 Adventure shoe (opens in new tab), a spin on the well-established training shoe. The new version adds deeper lugs on the sole for extra traction and a tougher ripstop upper. Brennand, who’s also a Reebok ambassador, was at the retreat and put us through our paces with his unique combination of HIIT and yoga. We were gritting our teeth and cursing under our breath (sorry, Tyrone) during the lower-body block of the bodyweight session especially, so we asked Brennand for a run-down of a few moves and what made them so deceptively difficult.

Give them a go yourself, but learn from our mistake and make sure you avoid stairs for at least 15 minutes after doing them.

1 Bent-leg reverse lunge

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How to do it Bend both legs, keep your back straight and draw your shoulders back. Lift the heel of the leg you will lunge backwards with, then step backwards and lower into the lunge. Return to the start, but instead of placing your foot on the floor, just tap it with your toes, then go straight into the next lunge.

What makes it extra tough “Normally, when you come back to the start you take the tension off,” says Brennand, “but in this move the tension remains in the quad and in the glute. You’re doing up to 20 reps but it’s like one long rep.”

2 In-and-out squat jump

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How to do it Stand with your feet together and lower as far as you can into a squat. Jump up explosively, moving your legs out and landing in a wide stance. Lower into a squat, then jump again, landing with your feet together. Keep alternating the position your legs land in.

What makes it extra tough “This is super-tough because it gets your cardiovascular system working,” says Brennand, “and the explosiveness from the jumps increases the intensity. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice form for reps.”

Side lunge with knee drive

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How to do it Take a big sidestep with your right leg and lower into a side lunge, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight. As you return to standing, drive your right knee up to your chest – you can jump up at the top too for an extra challenge. Then immediately step out again into another lunge. Do all your reps on one side, then switch.

What makes it extra tough “You’re moving laterally,” says Brennand, “with leg exercises a lot of people only move either up and down, or forwards and backwards”

Tyrone Brennand was speaking at the launch of the Reebok Nano X1 Adventure, available 11pm on 7th July at reebok.co.uk (opens in new tab), £110

Jonathan Shannon
Jonathan Shannon

Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.