Do You Even Squat?
It should go without staying, but your legs are an integral part of your body. Why then do so many people skip leg day?
Maybe it’s because of the perceived discomfort post workout.
Or because they want to fit into skinny jeans.
Are strong, well balanced legs not trending? Or are all the leg day memes turning you off leg training altogether? At the end of the day it comes down to what’s more important for you; being on trend or being healthy?
Be your own trend setter by following these guidelines for the perfect leg day routine to die for. You’ll discover the importance of a strong, healthy body and learn the anatomy of the leg so you can master the perfect leg day routine.
How Leg Strength Benefits Your Overall Health
Your legs support your whole body. Everything from posture and speed to mobility and strength are impacted by your legs. Don’t ignore these xurical muscles. Here’s why:
It’s an upper body workout too
Compound leg exercises like squats and deadlifts also workout your upper body. That’s because:
- Your abdominals are engaged during the lift
- Your arm muscles grip the bar
- Your chest muscles tense on big lifts
This is especially handy when upper body injuries prevent isolation workouts. You can start strong with leg day.
Increased muscle mass
Stronger legs, more muscle mass. It’s simple addition really. But did you know that exercises like squats and deadlifts can increase the release of growth hormone and testosterone? That’s why leg day is essential not just for a stronger lower body, but better overall health.
There’s a variety of reasons why many people hate leg day, but in most people’s top 3 is that ‘It’s hard’.
True, leg day can feel harder than other muscle group workouts, but overcoming that mental block can improve your mental fortitude, both in exercise and other areas of your life.
Balanced and healthy
Muscles and bones are all connected. A weakness in area can have run on effects in other parts of the body. Leg day is important for a balanced, healthy body and mind.
The Anatomy of Your Legs
So now you know why leg day is important, it’s time to learn about what exactly is going on in your legs.
Below the glutes
Everything below your glute muscles is technically your legs. While your glutes and other muscles around your butt and lower back do benefit from leg day, strictly speaking, legs start south of your tushy.
Hamstrings are the large muscle at the back of your thigh. Hey pare primarily responsible for knee flex and hip extension.
Muscles of the inner thigh. Squeeze something between your knees and you’ll feel them in action.
Your quads are on the front of your thigh, consist of four main parts and are the primary driver when you move your knee
This unfortunately named muscle is the upper calf muscle used in push of power when taking a step
Supports the Gastrocnemius and is located beneath it
Your ‘shin muscle’. Move your foot towards the knee and you’ll feel it flex.
It’s all connected
While these muscles form the basis for leg day workouts, it’s important to remember they’re all connected, right down to the tiny (but powerful) muscles in your toes. A good workout never forgets the whole body, especially when warming up.
Leg Day Exercises
A good leg day incorporates compound and isolation exercises. Remember to stretch, warm up and cool down.
How many reps?
There are alot of muscles in your legs and to get them to grow you’re going to need volume.
Bodybuilding.com recommends moderate (8-12) to high (15-20) rep ranges done in perfect form. This will help deliver more nutrients to your muscles.
The essential (and occasionally most reviled) leg day exercise. Squats are a foundational strength training movement, and form the basis of both a successful leg day and a great total body workout.
Because it uses a machine this tends to be the default leg day exercise for many folks. It’s a good exercise, but should be used in conjunction with other muscle building movements.
Seated Leg Curl
An easy exercise to incorporate into any workout program. You can use it to warm into bigger lifts
Similar to the leg curl, it’s a good isolation exercise that forms part of a healthy program.
One of the best single leg exercises. The Bulgarian unloads the spine while improving core stability and mobility in the hips. All single leg exercises are also good for improving symmetry.
Incorporated into your workout regime, the deadlift is one of the best compound muscle building exercises in your repertoire. Consider the services of a PT to make sure you’re doing it right.
Another despite exercise, break through the mental barriers and incorporate lunges into your workout regime as a cool down after weight lifting.10 minutes ought to do it.
Switch out the lunges with step ups as a cool down or do 5 minutes or each.
Every day is leg day
Look, even armed with all this killer info, leg day is still leg day. The secret is to incorporate compound exercises that benefit your lower body into every workout. That way, you’ll be more accustomed to leg workouts when leg day does come around. Remember, every day is leg day.
If you’re keen to feel the burn, there are several group fitness classes such as Les Mills Body Step to get your legs pumping!