I have always been a fan of building useful muscle. Being in the military, I have worked with many young studs that have muscles on top of muscles. However, these guys are not always the best workers as their strength is not always practical. For example, changing a component on an aircraft engine that weighs 50 pounds and requires some dexterity. I would choose one of these muscle heads to help me, but they were as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
Reflecting back on my life experiences, those with the most “useful” muscles have been fellow martial artists. For that reason, I am going to talk about some leg exercises from the martial arts world that will help us all build muscles that will look good and serve a practical purpose.
These exercises work best if you have a partner to work with to hold a target or even just put their hands out to give you a target and to trade off with.
First up is running in place. To warm up, you want to run in place, but bring your knees up high so they are parallel with the ground. Do this for one minute.
Next, flutter kicks. Same concept as running in place with high knees, but this time you are going to keep your legs straight and when you raise your leg it will be a straight legged kick. Do this for two minutes.
Now that we are warmed up, on to speed knees. Have your partner hold a target at your waist level. It can be a kicking target if you have one or just a flattened hand, so nothing special is really required. Then, you are going to raise your right knee as fast as you can to touch the target. As soon as you touch the target drive your leg back to the ground as fast as you can. Tap your toes on the ground and spring the leg back up and continue for 15 reps on each leg. Then, switch with your partner and do this for three total turns. This exercise builds strength and speed.
The next exercise is double speed knees. Again have your partner hold out the target at waist level. Then bring your right knee to the target as fast as you can and then back to the ground as fast as you can. Now, instead of bringing your right knee back up drive your left knee. Reset after the left comes back down and start over for a total of 10 reps and then switch for three more turns.
Lastly, get out the jump ropes and get to jumping. It is very hard for beginners to go for a long period of time, so I recommend doing rounds. Set a timer on your phone for three minutes and keep going until the timer goes off. Even if you keep messing up, just reset and keep trying. Take a one minute break and go for a total of three rounds.