It’s far too easy to skip leg day resting behind the excuse that it’s too hard and makes you feel nauseous.
But, here’s the thing:
Legs are one of our major muscle groups – and have some of the largest muscles in our body – so If leg day was easy, you’re not training hard enough.
Squats, deadlifts, and other leg exercises make up part of incredibly physically demanding lower body workouts that take a lot out of you. Also, the fatigue, DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), and shock to the CNS (Central Nervous System) that you can experience the following day or two isn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world, either.
So for these reasons, I understand why people prefer skipping leg day.
However, many trainers prefer upper body workouts as they tend to be less taxing, so they seek a strong upper body, and aesthetically the upper half of a physique is more noticeable than the lower; therefore, that is their area of focus.
But this is another excuse to skip leg day.
When people skip leg day, it is one of the most detrimental things you can do in your workouts, so continue reading this article, and I’ll outline ten reasons why you should never skip leg day and work to achieve a stronger lower body.
Helps Reduce Injury
Nowadays, many people in America suffer from lower back pain and have poor mobility and balance.
The main reason is that these people spend most of their waking hours sitting behind a desk, on a sofa, or behind a steering wheel. Then, of course, they sleep for hours laid still.
Living this life for prolonged periods (as most people do) can lead to lower back pain and pulled or torn hamstrings.
However, doing a workout routine involving squats, deadlifts, and lunges, helps build muscle around weak tendons and joints, thus increasing stability and mobility, not forgetting reducing the risk of chronic health conditions like arthritis and heart disease.
So if you want to reduce the risk of injury, never skip leg day.
Improves Your Running
Many runners believe that the only way to increase your speed and endurance is to keep running and choose to skip leg day; however, I’m afraid they are off the mark on this one.
Incorporating strength training into your weekly workout regime and developing strong leg muscles will pay dividends and help you become a better runner.
Furthermore, it is common for runners to suffer hip injuries due to poor form or knee issues. However, squats and deadlifts can help correct those issues, thus reducing the risk of any hip injury.
Helps Build Muscle
Leg day should be a number one priority if you have a goal of building muscle. Compound movements such as front squats and deadlifts raise hormone and testosterone levels, crucial for building muscle and developing a strong body.
For this reason alone, getting under that squat rack and committing to a minimum of one leg day workout each week will help you with weight loss, increase your muscle mass and leg strength, and alleviate lower back pain.
Burn More Calories
Multi-joint exercises that work bigger muscles like lunges, deadlifts, and squats require the heart and brain to work harder and spike the metabolism compared to smaller muscle groups.
Larger muscle groups require more energy when exercised, too. Take the gluteus maximus (your butt), for example. It is the largest muscle in the body.
So basically, working your backside requires more energy, which burns more calories, thus helping you lose weight, which is an excellent reason to never skip leg day.
Helps for Everyday Tasks
You don’t have to be an athlete like Eddie Hall to reap the benefits of incorporating a leg day into your routine.
Doing leg day has a carry-over effect in aiding you in everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, moving furniture, and picking up boxes.
These tasks will become much easier when your lower body becomes used to hinging at the hips and squatting down.
Your efficiency will improve tenfold if you squat down correctly and activate the hamstrings and glutes instead of relying on having strong arms.
Involving too much of the arms often results in a back injury or strain.
Increased Range of Motion
Another plus of leg day is achieving increased levels of flexibility, which ultimately increases your range of motion, allowing you to move around easier.
Can Help Correct Muscle Imbalances
Our body has a more dominant side which is stronger than the other. We all have this. And it makes sense when you think about it as we use our dominant side more in most things we do.
However, most leg movements require you to alternate sides. When you do this, you work on the weaker, less dominant side, correcting any muscle imbalances and aligning your body.
A good tip is to start with your weaker side whenever you do alternative exercises on leg day.
Nobody wants to have chicken legs. It looks ridiculous.
If you train your legs as much as any other body part, your physique will compliment you and look more symmetrical.
Plus, people will know you work your legs hard, and you may inspire them to add a leg day to their routine.
Greater Hormone Stimulation
Leg exercises – and weight training in general – help the body produce testosterone (yes, ladies need this) and Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Testosterone is crucial as it plays a fundamental role in repairing damaged muscle, while HGH boosts metabolism and aids in muscle growth.
Your Big Lifts Will Improve
Most of your heavy lifting comes from your legs and core, even on lifts like the bench press. When your lower body is engaged, it helps provide a robust platform to drive the weight up.
Performing functional lifts like deadlifts, barbell rows, and squats strengthens your legs, glutes, and lower body.
However, the most important thing to remember is that core strength is King and supports the body in everything in life, especially exercise.
Squats, deadlifts, lunges, barbell rows, and more are vital in building a solid core.
Best Leg Day Exercises
So, you’ve read the benefits of training your legs, so now we’ll move on to which exercises are the best to do to enjoy your upcoming leg day workout.
There are variations of the deadlift you can perform with either a barbell or dumbbell. Still, we’ll assume you’re using a barbell for this article and are performing the traditional deadlift most of us are familiar with.
Begin with the barbell on the floor in front of you, and your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
Hinge at the hips and grip the barbell. There are two choices for grip: the traditional mixed grip, where one hand grips the bar overhand and the other underhand. The mixed grip, however, undoubtedly allows you to lift heavier.
Ensure hands are shoulder-width apart.
Maintain a neutral head position throughout the lift by fixing your eyes on a spot roughly two or three meters in front of your feet. Remember to keep your chin up, too.
Engage your core and glutes as you are about to lift the bar, and take a deep breath into your belly, hold your breath, and contract your abs hard.
The beauty of this exercise is that you have the option to do them with or without equipment. For beginners, try using your bodyweight only to start or light dumbbells to get used to the movement.
For those more experienced, use dumbbells or opt for the standing or seated calf raise machine.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand if you use them.
Lift your heels off the ground, using the balls of your feet to maintain balance. Return the heels to the floor and repeat.
Always use a full range of motion, ensuring your heels drive up on your tiptoes and slowly come back down.
You don’t necessarily need equipment to do this exercise, but I’ll explain the bodyweight squat here.
I recommend starting with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart (if flexibility allows) and toes pointing slightly outwards, as doing so not only engages the quads but also brings in the hamstrings and glutes.
You can either put your hands in the air or on your hips to help you maintain balance. Inhale as you begin to lower your body while simultaneously ensuring you keep your back and upper body straight.
For additional stability, engage your abs and exhale to bring yourself back to the starting point.
If you feel your form is an issue, ask a respectable personal trainer to look over you and correct any problems.
You’ll need the machine for this exercise.
Sit on the machine seat, place your feet on the platform before you, and set the machine to a comfortable weight.
Using your legs, push the platform away from your body by bending your knees and driving through your heels. Each time you return to the starting position is one rep.
Your form is everything with this exercise. Ensure your knees remain sturdy and resist the urge to allow them to turn inwards, as you are at risk of creating an injury otherwise.
LiveLift tip: If you prefer to work more of your quads, place your feet closer together, lower on the platform. If you’d like to target more of your hamstrings and glutes, put your feet higher up the platform and further apart.
The dumbbell lunge is the same as a regular lunge, only in this exercise, you hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Stand up straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward (hammer grip), ensuring your feet are slightly less than shoulder-width apart.
Take a deep breath and a big step forward with your right leg, landing on the heel.
Bend at the knee until the right knee is nearly parallel to the ground, but ensure the right knee doesn’t go past your toes. The left leg is bent at the knee and balanced on the toes while in the lunge position.
Step back with the right foot and exhale while returning to the starting point.
Repeat with the left leg.
There is no doubt that leg sessions can be the most brutal out of them all. I have never met one person who enjoys walking around with sore legs, as, let’s face it, it’s a challenge to do just about anything, even menial tasks.
However, our legs are our base and play a fundamental role in our overall stability.
While you don’t need to aim to build muscle like a professional bodybuilder, adding muscle mass helps reduce joint and muscle pain and reduce the risk of injury and health conditions.
So, while training legs may be very hard, never skip leg day. The rewards far outweigh a day or two of discomfort.
About the author
I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).