You're sitting alone in your living room, staring blankly at the wall. A crashing wave of panic is closing in, threatening to engulf you at any minute.

The worst part is, you can't put your finger on just what's brought it on. Is it the ten grand you owe the mob? Nah, that's not it.

Maybe it's that chick you picked up last month, who just called to inform you that she's two weeks "late?" No, not that either.

Or perhaps it's the fact that those little red sores are getting bigger, and it hurts when you pee? Nope, not even close.

I'll tell you what it is, bucko. You have an acute case of lower-body anxiety.

Training camp is starting in five weeks and you've spent the majority of your spring and summer training to look good on the beach. As a result, you now have the chest and arms of a silverback gorilla, but the thighs and calves of a pink flamingo.

And you just know that when they test you on the forty, or when you have to run through that nasty defensive line, you're likely gonna be in for a very unpleasant surprise. Maybe you'll lose your starting position, or even your spot on the team. Then you can kiss that nice big college scholarship goodbye.

Then it hits you: without your scholarship, you'll have to drop out of that fancy university. Without a college degree, you'll have to work the night shift at 7-Eleven, selling Big Gulps and Slurpees to other losers for the rest of your life.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but in my many years as a coach, I've seen this situation many, many times. For some reason, whether it be an injury, short-sighted beach-muscle focus, or just plain laziness, an athlete "forgets" to work on his lower body during the off-season, then suddenly realizes that he actually needs decent legs for serious running when the season starts.

These athletes come up to me at practically the last minute, desperate for a program that will allow them to start the season on the right foot, so to speak.

So here's the program I give them. Yes, it's brutal, hellish, cruel, and unusual. Yes, you'll curse my name for hours on end. I don't mind. Do this program, and it'll get you in playing shape faster than anything else you can do.

Understand, though, that this is only a quick fix: an emergency solution, and not part of a properly planned long-term program.

An athlete needs lower body strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, speed, and reactive strength. Ideally, you have a longer time to train, and are able to focus on each of these at a time, thereby maximizing them all.

However, with only 3-5 weeks to get ready, we don't have that luxury, so we have no choice but to do everything at once. Luckily, there's an effective way to do this: the strength spectrum circuit.

This approach will build strength, power, and speed, while improving your work capacity, conditioning, and overall general physical preparedness. And, if youÕre a bodybuilder and youÕve never done training like this before, itÕll also beef you up.

The program features two lower body sessions per week, ideally performed either Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday. Two upper body sessions are performed either Tuesday/Friday or Wednesday/Sunday.

The first lower body session is hip-dominant, while the second one is quadriceps-dominant. Both include 5 or 6 exercises, performed in the form of a circuit (one set of each, before repeating a second and third time).

Lower Body Day 1: Hip-Dominant

A1) Romanian Deadlift

lower body workout

4 to 6 reps

3-4 seconds lowering/eccentric phase, 1 second pause in the stretched position, rapid lifting/concentric phase

push the hips as far back as possible when you lower the bar, to stretch the hamstrings

75 seconds of rest before moving on to A2.

A2) Power Snatch From Blocks

lower body workoutlower body workout

4 to 6 reps

No emphasis on eccentric (just don't drop the bar on the blocks), explosive concentric/lifting

Think "beach position" (always keep chest out and lower back arched), and jump! Keep the bar as close to the body as possible at all times during the lift.

75 seconds of rest before moving on to A3.

A3) Leg Curl

lower body workout

4 to 6 reps

Controlled concentric, 1 second iso hold in the contracted position, eccentric in 3-4 seconds

60 seconds of rest before moving on to A4.

A4) Two-Handed Dumbbell Swing

lower body workoutlower body workout

8 to 10 reps

Explosive concentric/lifting; rapid eccentric

aim for as much acceleration as possible. Focus on achieving full ankle, knee, and hip extension at the top.

60 seconds of rest before moving on to A5.

A5) Jump Lunges

lower body workoutlower body workout

8 to 10 reps per leg

Rapid eccentric/pre-stretch, explosive concentric/jumping

use 20-30% of your body weight. Switch legs in the air.

60 seconds of rest before moving on to A6.

A6) Forward Jump Series

lower body workout

8 to 10 jumps in a row

focus on length (hip-dominant) not height (quad-dominant). Spend as little time as you can on the ground between jumps.

2 minutes of rest before restarting the circuit

The A1) to A6) circuit is to be completed 3 times.

Lower Body Day 2: Quadriceps-Dominant

A1) Olympic Style Back Squat

lower body workout

4 to 6 reps

3-4 seconds lowering/eccentric, rapid lifting/concentric

Feet are shoulder width. Keep torso as upright as possible.

90 seconds of rest before moving on to A2.

A2) Power Clean from the Hang

lower body workoutlower body workout

4 to 6 reps

Rapidly lower the bar to the knees, and immediately explode upward

same as with power snatch

90 seconds of rest before moving on to A3.

A3) Short Steps Lunges

lower body workoutlower body workout

8 to 10 reps per leg

Controlled lowering/eccentric (2-3 seconds), rapid lifting/concentric

the back knee should be in line with the front heel in the low position. Bring the back knee as close to the ground as possible, without touching it.

75 seconds of rest before moving on to A4.

A4) Jump Squat Series

lower body workoutlower body workout

8 to 10 reps

Rapid eccentric, explosive concentric/jump

use 20-30% of your max full squat. Focus on jumping height, but try to spend as little time as possible on the ground.

60 seconds of rest before moving on to A5.

A5) Bulgarian Split Squat Jump

lower body workoutlower body workout

8 to 10 jumps per leg

Rapid eccentric before jumping up as fast as possible

the focus should be on bringing the knee up to the chest with as much speed as possible. The back leg stays on the block. Minimal ground contact time.

60 seconds of rest before moving on to A5.

Conclusion

Do this lower body cycle for a period of 3 to 4 weeks and you'll significantly improve most facets involved in optimal athletic performance. It won't make you a super-stud in all of these facets, but at least you won't embarrass yourself in front of the linebackers and cheerleaders, you can save your scholarship, and you'll keep your future reasonably Slurpee-free.

In other words, if you desperately need to bring up your lower body in a hurry, this is your best, and perhaps only option.

The relatively short rest intervals (which I wouldn't recommend under normal circumstances) will also help get you into athletic playing shape, while developing your capacity to maintain a high level of power output even in a fatigued state.

So if you're floundering in the roiling waves of lower body anxiety, here's your life jacket. But next year, be serious. Concentrate on your lower body from the start.