When hitting the gym, it’s perfectly normal to desire a muscular body that will grant you the attention of your friends and family. Usually when people define muscularity, large chests, bulging biceps and broad shoulders come to mind. Legs have always been the furthest thing from being at the center of attention, therefore has become forgotten in many gym rats’ routines. The oversight of such an important body part has become a regular joke on the internet and for good reason. Here are a few reasons why you should never skip leg day.
What Is Leg Day?
When people tend to take the route of body building, or muscle growth in general, it is incredibly common to split workouts into separate days based on the body part at that time. The reason for this is because when one exerts himself or herself during each workout, they won’t possibly have the same amount of energy to optimise their workouts with multiple compound exercises across various body parts. Leg Day is a day dedicated to just training legs and is often joked as being one of the most skipped days in the gyming community.
It’s Half of Your Body
In terms of proportions, neglecting an entire half of your body will look strange. The term “Chicken Legs” is commonly used in the gymming scene to mock those who neglect basic bodybuilding “rules’ for short term gratification. Glutes, hamstrings, calves are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to important muscles to work on. Many jokes have been thrown around about looking like an upside down triangle and you wouldn’t want to fall under that category. Good glutes and calves will bring about a proper balance in aesthetics along with other crucial benefits.
To Minimise Struggle in Sports
Whether it is a team sport or a solo activity, there are incredibly few sports you’d be able to do if your legs are severely weaker than your upper body. Big bursts of sprints, shuttle run-like movement and even long jobs will become significantly less efficient due to the unbalanced weight distribution. Aside from being susceptible to injury, having an underdeveloped lower body will certainly limit you in the sport of your choosing. Clever movement and technical footwork are important for rugby, football, basketball, running and so much more. If you are keen to start taking your leg days to the next level, working on hamstrings, glutes and quads are the way to go.
To Build a Strong Body
If you’re serious about working out, it’s important to know about the “Big Three’. Squats, deadlifts and bench press are the trinity that defines the journey of every lifter and missing out on one of them would hurt your overall progress. As the big three are compound exercises, you would be getting a “full body” workout when engaging the routine immediately. Putting off squats, the leg exercise of the big three, will be disregarding the body’s ability to progress in unity. Weak legs will affect your strength when you choose to do exercises like standing Military press, flies and even bicep curls. Having half a strong body will hamper your ability to perform certain movements and we highly recommend going for legs weekly.
To Grow Up Quickly
Your body has a neat way of balancing itself as it grows so that everything will be in proportion. A huge part of this is maximising the amount of hormonal output such as growth hormones and testosterone. By limiting your bodily exertion to literally half, there will not be nearly as much of said chemicals to give you the optimal growing experience. It is noted that the more body parts that are engaged, the more hormones will be released. It means that the big three are optimal to kickstart a healthy chemical reaction, and neglecting even one of them will hurt your overall progress.
To Burn out Extra Fat and Loss Weight
While weightlifting isn’t cardio by any stretch of the imagination, it can increase your body’s metabolism to an extent and it does make a significant difference. Interestingly, lower body exercises burn the most amount of calories in a single workout and tend to keep the metabolism high even after the workout has been completed. Additional factors like default metabolic rate, muscle mass and dieting are all to be considered when assessing your ability to burn fat - but skipping leg day will make a huge difference in your pursuit for weight loss and definition that add to the impact of the other variables.
To Minimise the Risk of Injury
It’s no surprise that if you continue to work on your upper body, you will put on weight overtime. As you continue to get heavier at the top, an untrained bottom will start feeling the pain of constantly carrying a heavy top. This will not only hamper your ability to do certain weighted exercises that put pressure on the legs, but it can also result in long term knee injuries too. For example, deadlifts utilise a multitude of leg muscles, and the strain on adding more weight on under trained legs can lead to long term damage and even more severe bone illnesses.
Recommended Leg Exercises
Now that we know important legs are to our gym routines, what are some of the best exercises to get started? As previously mentioned, squats will definitely be mandatory and ideally the first exercise you start off with during your leg session. Following that, dumbbells can be used with lunges. Since lunges are rather hard on the knees, feel free to use lighter weights when moving across your gym. Alternatively, you could do it stationary or without dumbbells too, this exercise is rather flexible.
Lastly, machines are going to be your best friend. Leg curls, leg press and weighted calve raises are phenomenal options to ensure that you target those isolated leg muscles. These are particularly important if you are keen to sculpt your legs and ensure that your legs get a proper, all-encompassing workout. Your legs have the power to determine how much muscle you put on and how much weight you can lose, so don’t ever forget to do legs at least once a week!
Ezra Gideon, UNB & Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.