Leg Day, Every Day
Hey there. Leg day. Let’s go. First off, it hurts. A lot of people avoid working out legs because walking to the next exercise sucks. Going down stairs afterwards sucks. Lowering yourself onto a chair afterwards sucks. Walking around two days after kind of sucks.
There are a million reasons people avoid leg day, but with all that pain comes some pretty awesome benefits.
Besides, you don’t want to be the person with a massive upper body and chicken legs. That’s just a weird look. A strong breeze comes by and you might fall over for being so top heavy.
Reasons to Not Skip Leg Day (and Laugh While Doing It)
First things first, why are leg workouts so important to your overall fitness.
Building strong legs, aka your body’s foundation, will make your daily life a piece of cake. Stairs, hills, walking around, picking things off the ground, balance, swimming. It all gets easier.
Your Legs Won’t Get the Memo to Retire Early. Leg muscle strength equals increased stability, meaning your balance skills won’t give you away when you age. If you work them out properly as part of a well structured, overall fitness routine you could still give those twenty year old’s a run for their money. Plus, more lean mass and exercise means less bone loss after 40 which is never a bad thing.
And finally, aesthetics. Aesthetically, strong legs are nice to look at. Strong, toned female legs. Strong, defined male legs. Almost nothing shows the work you put in quite like legs which are surprisingly hard to build properly. I would rank them as second only to shoulders as a show of pride for bodyparts that are hard to grow.
But Why is Skipping Leg Day So Common?
Sadly, they hurt. That is why so many people skip them. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) makes a lot of people think twice about even approaching leg day. The difficult nature of working them out appropriately can make a large part of those who actually do train them regularly hesitate to go heavy. Heavy squats after all can put you out of breath and leave your legs shaking.
Lower body workouts require some serious effort. We can assure you it’s worth it, though!
Training legs consistently will lessen the pain over time (I promise). It won’t be gone entirely, but you also won’t be crying internally for days on end.
And finally, confusion. Some people don’t know how to effectively train legs. It’s easier to just avoid them if you don’t know how to work them safely and properly. It’s human nature.
Making Leg Day Your Bestie (Not Really)
So, what’s the aim of this article? Simple. Stop skipping leg day.
Here’s what we’re gonna do:
- Tell you all about the incredible perks of leg workouts
- Guide you through proper leg exercises
- Share expert tips on making leg day the best day of the week
The Leg-Endary Benefits: Why Strong Legs Are Needed
Here are some very cool benefits of a good-old leg workout.
A. Functional Strength: Why Calling in the Big Guns Matters
Remember those heavy shopping bags that felt like a ton of bricks? How about running for the bus without feeling like your lungs will burst? Half of that battle is leg strength. The other half is cardio, so don’t skip that either but cardio is an entirely separate beast.
Functional strength is important! But what is functional strength? It’s the ability to do daily activities easily without a lot of effort. Lifting boxes off the ground in the office, picking up and racking servers in the datacenter, getting in/out of your office chair without pain and a lot of effort. It’s all functional.
- Daily Activities: Strong legs make everyday tasks a breeze. Squatting down to grab something off a low shelf? No sweat with strong quads!
- Improve Sports Performance: You’ll also notice a big improvement in any sports or activities you do. BJJ? Soccer? Flag football? Your legs are here for the task!
B. Improved Balance and Stability: Stand Tall and Stay Grounded
Ever tried standing on one foot and felt like a drunk? While balance also has to do with inner ear stuff, strong legs from the hips through the ankles all play a part. Weak ankles are a leading cause of poor balance, but if the rest of the chain is weak you won’t get very far without toppling over.
- Maintaining Balance: Your legs are like the roots of a tree holding you upright. More strength means steady balance with whatever task you are doing.
- Preventing Injuries: A good pair of strong legs can also prevent annoying injuries and falls. Better balance means less change of twisted ankles and knee pain.
C. Faster Metabolism: Your Body, the Calorie-Burning Machine
Leg work outs aren’t just about strength and balance. Your leg muscles are the biggest muscles in your body and require the most nutrients to continue existing. That means they consume a LOT of calories, so the bigger they are the higher your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the more food you need to maintain them. Big, strong tree trunks mean you can eat more and not worry.
- Muscle Power: Your legs house some of the biggest muscles in your body. By working them out more, you increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories.
- Weight Management: And with that boosted metabolism comes awesome weight management benefits.
D. Hormones and Immune System Benefits
Lower body exercises have a whole host of extra benefits you don’t get to the same extent with upper body workouts. The link between leg workouts and our body’s hormonal and immune systems is truly fascinating! Here’s how well they work together:
- Growth Hormone Release: High intensity leg exercises, like squats, activate the release of this muscle-boosting hormone, helping you grow stronger and faster.
- Testosterone Boost: Leg day exercises can stimulate testosterone production, which is responsible for muscle growth, maintenance, and recovery.
- Endorphin Power: Rich in endorphins, leg workouts reduce stress and increase happiness. A double win for your overall well-being!
Training our legs can also strengthen our immune system – a true workout wonder! Here’s how:
- Powerful Lymphatic System: This system plays a major role in keeping your immune system strong. Leg day exercises, including walking lunges and squats, can help facilitate proper lymphatic drainage and circulation.
- Stress Busters: Working out legs can reduce overall stress, which can subsequently help your immune system function better. Less stress = better health!
- Speedy Recovery: Intense leg workouts promote blood circulation, which aids in delivering oxygen and nutrients needed for recovery to muscle tissue. The result? Faster healing!
Don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you cannot boost your own immune systems or hormonal levels naturally. The science on this is actually settled.
E. Aesthetic Benefits: Shaping up with No Room for “Chicken Legs”
Lastly, let’s not forget the looks. Strong female legs, massive male legs. (Almost) nothing shows off your hard work quite like a sold set of legs.
- Proportionate Physique: Strong legs create a balanced, well-rounded physique. From the boardroom to the beach, you’ll own any place and people will notice, even subconsciously, that you are a force.
- No More “Chicken Legs”: Who wants to sport the upside-down triangle look? It’s odd shaped and off-putting. Avoid it.
Strengthening those legs isn’t just for bodybuilders, it brings some fantastic real-life benefits for everyone! You just need to make sure you can find well fitting pants. That’s possibly the hardest thing about well developed legs.
Leg Day Exercise Guide: Let’s Do These Right!
It’s time to introduce you to some exercises that will transform your legs.
A. Squats: The King of Leg Exercises
Ladies and gents, the squat. King of leg day. Almost nothing compares to how many muscles are worked with a squat. This is one of the most intense compound exercises available and has a ton of variety to choose from. Back, front, belt, goblin, box, etc. Every version has it’s own targeted development area, so vary them up.
Back Squat Proper Form: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, abs tight, back straight, barbell across your shoulder blades, hands grasping the bar, and lower yourself like sitting in a chair. Go as deep as you can but keep your knees from going past your toes. Stand back up slowly. Boom! You just squatted!
B. Lunges: One-Legged Glory
Next up, we’ve got lunges. Lunges are a one-legged exercise, meaning each leg gets its turn to work. They also have a lot of variety. Mix it up with forward lunges, reverse lunges, and sideways lunges.
Doing Traditional Lunges Right: Step forward with one foot, lower your body until your front knee bends to about 90 degrees, and then push back up to the start. Swap legs and do it again. Easy.
C. Deadlifts: Oh, That Butt’s Looking Good
Let’s not forget the awesome deadlifts! Deadlifts target the backside of your body, work out your legs pretty hard, and are the only other exercise that uses more muscles than squats. Like squats, they come in with a ton of variety: Sumo, conventional, Romanian. Lots of options to choose from.
Nailing the Traditional Form: Keep your back straight, feet about shoulder width apart, sink down into your hips, grab the barbell with alternating grip, and, keeping a tight core, drive your hips forward to stand up. Voila, a deadlift! Repeat.
D. Leg Press: Because Variety is the Spice of Life
If you’re looking for additional variety, look no further than the leg press. It is a complimentary exercise for squats and lunges and, while similar, works in a completely separate way.
How-To: Load the plates, sit on the pad, place your feet on the panel, and push to extend your knees. Slowly return to the start. That’s one. Just remember, don’t lock those knees at the top!
E. Hamstring Curls and Leg Extensions: Targeting the Isolated Heroes
Lastly, let’s target those hamstring and quadriceps muscles with curls and extensions. These are isolation exercises that will really give your legs a defined and balanced look while working them out.
Doing Them Right: Whether curling or extending, the key is to move slowly, feel the burn, and keep your hips on the pad. If you find yourself lifting out of the chair/off the pad, you are going too heavy. Knee pain? Adjust where the pads sit on your legs.
There are tons of other niche movements and machines to choose from, but these few essential leg exercises form the core of a sold leg day. Remember, focus on proper form and execution. Eventually they will grow. Just won’t be overnight.
Make Leg Day Shine: A Balanced Workout Routine for All
Ready to hit it? Let’s create your leg workout.
A. Beginner Routine: Starting on the Right Foot
New to leg workouts? No problem! Just follow these simple steps:
Frequency: Begin by doing leg workouts 1-2 times per week, easing into the exercises without overloading your muscles.
Intensity: Start with light weights or your own bodyweight, focusing on proper form and technique.
Example Beginner Leg Workout:
- Squats: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Forward Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps each leg
- Deadlifts (lightweight): 3 sets of 10 reps
- Leg Press (lightweight): 3 sets of 12 reps
- Hamstring Curls (machine): 3 sets of 12 reps
- Leg Extensions (machine): 3 sets of 12 reps
B. Intermediate/Advanced Routine: Taking It to the Next Level
Experienced and ready to challenge yourself? Try this awesome routine.
Frequency: Aim for leg workouts 3 times per week, increasing the weight and intensity.
Intensity: Use heavier weights (about 60-75% of 1RPM) while maintaining perfect form.
Example Intermediate/Advanced Leg Workout:
Weighted Squats (Barbell or Dumbbells): 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Reverse Lunges: 4 sets of 10 reps each leg
Romanian Deadlifts: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Hamstring Curls (machine or free weights): 4 sets of 10 reps
Leg Extensions (machine or free weights): 4 sets of 10 reps
C. The Full-Body Program: Fitting Leg Workouts into Your Routine
Keep it balanced with these tips to incorporate a quality leg day work out.
Training Split: Consider alternating upper and lower body exercises. This way, you won’t neglect leg training and it ensures full-body focus.
Recovery: Give your muscles time to recover by waiting 48 hours between leg workouts to help your Central Nervous System get back to normal. During that period stretch those legs, use a foam roller, or even enjoy a warm bath to help with recovery.
Listen to your body and watch out for signs of overtraining, like fatigue or frequent injuries. Schedule rest days for a proper balance.
It’s easy to add them in. It’s harder to begin executing on them. Remember, a well-rounded leg workout routine is essential for a strong and powerful body. Consistency is the key. So go ahead, and let your legs lead the way!
Leg Day Perfection: Safety Tips for Fabulous Leg Workouts
Let’s face it, we don’t want to hurt ourselves in the gym. Here are some tips for safe and effective leg workouts.
A. Warm-Up and Mobility: The Stretchy Way to a Great Leg Day
Never skip warmups. Warming up and dynamic stretching are a necessity whether you are 20 or 120. Muscles can’t go from sitting on the couch to squatting a house without some sort of intermediary action to start the blood flow, increase nutrient delivery, and loosening them up a bit. Skipping this can cause sub-optimal lifts at best, and serious injury at worst.
- Jog in place or jump rope (3-5 mins): Increase your heart rate and get those muscles warmed up.
- High knees (30 sec): Lift your knees as high as you can to wake up those hip flexors.
- Leg swings (10 each side): Find balance and work on your hip mobility at the same time.
- Walking lunges (10-12 reps): Gently stretch your hip flexors and get ready for lunges like a pro.
- Dynamic hamstring stretch (10 each side): Say hello to your hamstrings and give them a nice stretch.
B. Weight Wizards: Proper Selection and Progression
Choosing the right weight and progressing safely are crucial for your leg day success. Here’s a secret to picking it: use something that challenges you, but doesn’t sacrifice your form. If you can do 10-12 reps feeling the burn yet maintaining proper form, then you’ve got it! If you can move the weight for 10-12 reps without any sort of exertion, sweat, or feel like you can go forever: Go heavier.
- Be patient: Allow your body to get used to the current weights before leveling up.
- Progress, not perfection: Add weight in small increments (think 5-10% more). Too heavy too quickly is bad. Not increasing weight at all is bad. Olympia winners get excited when they’d add an extra pound or two over a few weeks. You don’t need to add 40 pounds each time you lift. Progress is progress.
- Monitor your form: Ensure your technique is still on point as you increase weights.
- Rest and recover: Give yourself time to rest before conquering the next workout.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to stellar and safe leg workouts.
Wrap-Up: Long Live Leg Day!
There is a ton more depth to leg day (pun intended), but I’ve gone over a lot here. No one likes a wall of text as it is. If you’ve made it this far, thanks. I appreciate you sticking through this and hope you learned something. Let’s recap.
Remember: Leg Workouts are Power-Packed!
What’s the deal with leg day work outs?
- Strength: Leg workouts build up our lower body strength, which build all around strength.
- Muscle Balance: Strong legs mean a balanced body! This reduces the chance of injuries.
- Burning Calories: These workouts torch calories, which means you can eat more and not worry about lost progress.
- Improving your Overall Fitness: You’ll be boosting your running, jumping, and even that funky dance move you love.
- Immune system and hormones: Lower body workouts boost both.
And remember, it’s not just about doing the exercises — it’s about doing them right. So, keep that form fantastic and those reps in check!
Be a Leg Day Legend!
There’s an old saying that goes “Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.” Don’t be a bad friend. Having strong and capable legs makes everything better, from lifting heavy things to intense sprinting or simply looking good.
- Warm-up and stretch
- Choose the right weights
- Keep the form on point
- Give yourself time to rest and recover
That’s all I’ve got. Go forth and conquer.
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