The Fitness Zone
Leg day is undoubtedly one of the most challenging sessions that you will face at the gym. You’ll be familiar with the sweat on your brow, the nausea in your stomach and the absolute burn in your legs and glutes. Worst of all, walking, standing and just general living becomes more difficult for the hours and even days that follow. So why on earth would you put yourself through this type of torture?
Believe me, there is a method to the madness and the benefits far outweigh the pain associated with leg day. Here are a few tips to learn to appreciate the burn.
1. Always remember the benefits
Training legs has many positive effects on physical health and body composition. Studies show that people who perform compound leg exercise have a higher release of Human Growth Hormone. This significantly aids muscular growth in all areas of the body. Want bigger biceps? It’s time to SQUAT!
Compound leg exercises like the squat and deadlift, have the highest core activation. A strong core promotes good posture, reduces lower back pain and improves quality of life. Plus, it makes for some awesome looking abs! In addition, strong quads and glutes increase power, strength and speed in other fitness activities. For example, sprinters focus on power in squats to encourage strong race sprints.
2. Go in with a plan
Setting up a leg program may be a simple way to increase your productivity on leg day. Plan out all your exercises, how many sets and reps are required and how much time you want to complete the session in. Keeping to the schedule means your session will be quicker and more effective.
3. Check your form
You may be hating on leg day because your muscles aren’t firing correctly for different exercises. Check for hip and knee alignment, depth and posture in squats and always decrease the weight if your form is compromised. Let go of your ego - you’ll get better results that way.
4. Have a training buddy
Having a training buddy can increase your motivation and accountability. They can help you push out those last few reps and spot all those heavy squats. You don’t want to leave your buddy hanging, so you’ll never have an excuse to skip legs.
5. Promote good recovery
Reduce the pain from those dreaded days after leg day, by accelerating recovery. Try foam rolling and stretching, increase your protein and carb intake post-workout and increase light cardio to promote removal of metabolic waste buildup.
6. Reduced risk of injury
Because working on your legs improves lower body strength, you will be less likely to be injured if you work on your legs. Exercises like lunges and squats helps to improve stability in the knees which can mean the difference between getting injured or being able to continue with your workout goals.
7. Burn more calories
A lot of large muscles reside in your lower body. Your gluteus maximus is actually the largest muscle on the body, so if you’re working some of the largest muscles in the body, it means you’re going to burn more calories. Whether weight loss is one of your goals, you will be burning more calories by continuing with leg day workouts.
8. Increase your metabolism
With the increase in muscle mass comes an increase in your metabolism. Lifting weights surpasses the hike in metabolism obtained through other exercises such as running, cycling, rowing and other cardio exercises. If you want to speed up your metabolism, don’t skip your time with the weights.
9. Everyday tasks are easier
When you work out, everything will feel just that little bit easier. When working on your lower body, this is no exception. Whether it’s picking up boxes, the groceries, running around with the kids or moving furniture, these tasks will be just that little bit easier. You will already have the best form for doing these tasks and so you will also avoid any unnecessary injury.
10. Gain a much needed massage
With all of your hard work and effort leaving you feeling sore, you deserve to be treated. Getting a massage will help with any sore, aching muscles after leg day, so a massage is definitely worth investing in. Massage helps to break down scar tissue and reduce any stiffness that may occur whilst your muscles are trying to recover. Add in some calming music or scented candles and you have yourself a very relaxing time after leg days.
11. Avoid becoming an internet meme
We’ve all seen the images online of people who have “skipped leg day” and the notion that “friends don’t let friends skip leg day”. Although some of these images of excessively large and top heavy people who have clearly forgotten to do their squats can be pretty funny, it really highlights the need to remember to focus all areas of the body. You can ensure you look good all over and look more symmetrical. Jokes aside, your leg day workout means you’ll be working on all parts of your body and benefitting to your best abilities.
Leg day shouldn’t be thought of as a grueling task. Even if you’re more interested in working your upper body parts, leg day will actually help your upper body both directly and indirectly. You will also burn a lot more calories on leg day so that should definitely be a day at the gym to get excited for.