Leg Day: Who, What, Where, When, Why?
Everyone has an opinion about leg day. Whether they love it (me), they hate it (most of my clients), or they “just do cardio instead” (people I try to change), people tend to have quite the reaction.
It really doesn't matter how you feel about leg day, what is important is that you train your legs!
Who should lift legs?
If you have an excuse, I don’t care to hear it.
What is leg day?
Let’s define “leg day” as any day you perform a squat pattern and a hinge motion. That is, at least one major move that primarily targets your quads (e.g., front squats or Bulgarian split squats), in addition to one that targets primarily your hamstrings (e.g., Deadlifts or weighted hip thrusts).
*some programs will have leg days split into anterior and posterior chain. That is totally cool too!
Where does it take place?
Your local gym or your home, or really anywhere heavy things are located.
All you need is enough space so that you can safely pick them up, put them down, and not bump into anything while doing it.
When and how often should I do it?
At least once a week. I mean your legs make up the majority of your body, so you should train them accordingly.
If you happen to be a cardio junky, I’d recommend saving your long runs for a day other than leg day.
Finally, we arrive at my favorite question of all time: Why? (Just ask my parents.)
Why should you lift legs? Well again, most people hold two-thirds of their body weight below the waist and that is largely due to those big-ass muscles. Literally, your ass, quads, and hamstrings are some of the biggest muscles in your body! Even so, most people routinely do more bicep curls than hamstring curls.
The reasons for doing leg day are pretty simple: The bigger the muscles, the more calories it takes to use them. The more calories you burn, the more food you can eat and stay lean. The more food you can eat and stay lean, the happier you are.
Granted, the happiness thing is subjective, but leg workouts do bring some real positive and practical qualities. For instance, a skill that I make all of my older clients work on is the ability to get off the ground without using their hands. I think this is so important for the general population—what if you are on the floor and have something in your hands? What if you break both your arms?
Developing that skill takes less time than you think. All you have to do is drill a lunge pattern.
Another incredibly practical skill is picking things up, or hinging. If you practice good form in the gym, you’ll likely be safer when your buddy asks you to help him move that couch. Or if you simply don’t want to poop on yourself, you’ve got to be able to squat.
If you are only going to lift one day a week and you aren’t squatting and hinging, you are not efficiently using your time.
Oh, and did I mention the aesthetic benefits? Dead lifts make your lats and traps pop, while the front squat might be the best core exercise of all time. And to combat any hesitation, no, you won’t get too bulky doing either of them.
Remember it is hard to build muscle! Nobody accidentally gets ripped.
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