You don’t always have time to work through a marathon leg session. Sometimes, you only have time for one or two leg moves. But you still want to break a vicious sweat, and you still want to hit every part of your legs.
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Days like that are the perfect time for you to try this 90-seconds-of-hell squat series from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. It’s a vicious minute-and-a-half of squats that you’ll repeat at least two times, and by the time you’re done, you’ll have smashed your entire lower body and your abs, and sent your heart rate through the roof. Done over four sets, it’s a move that can serve a variety of roles in any workout, operating as a leg day or total-body day finisher, working as a vicious metabolic conditioning piece, or functioning as a quick sweat workout when you need one.
“I love this best as a leg day finisher, but it has far more uses than that,” says Samuel. “We’re essentially doing a squat dropset, piling up as many reps as we can (and also accumulating plenty of metabolic stress on our leg muscles). We’re doing it quickly and with relatively light weights, so you’ll feel a good burn, but recover well, too.”
You start with a standard front squat, then cut that weight in half, doing a single-arm front-rack squat that is lighter but far more mental. Then you finish by doing bodyweight squats, wiping out your legs. “You’re pushing your body to its leg training limits over 90 seconds,” says Samuel, “and your mind and core must stay plenty engaged too, because we switch between classically loaded squats and that offset load single-arm squat.”
You’ll need a pair of kettlebells to head to this 90-second squat hell. If you don’t have one, consider this pair from Bowflex.
Work with relatively heavy kettlebells, says Samuel, but know that they’ll need to be lighter than the bells you would normally use for front squats. “This is about time,” says Samuel, “not pure resistance.”
Samuel adds that you wouldn’t use this move at the beginning of a workout, only near the end. “Once you’ve done your four sets here, you’ll want to leave the gym,” he says. “Especially if you work hard. The key is to never stop moving during this series: Even when you fatigue, keep gutting out reps. You’re building physical toughness as much as mental toughness here.”
And it never hurts to build either thing, right?
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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