Leg day is (or should be) the most brutal of weight training days. Back is right up there with legs but we’ll save that for another article. And let’s be honest; most of us get excited about chest day, working arms, and even back and shoulders but few weightlifters embrace leg day with the same enthusiasm. And if you’re having one of those weeks where you’re energy is down, you’re busy, tired, or something out of the norm is going on, leg day is often the day that gets skipped. I’m all for taking a day or two off when you need recover or haven’t had adequate rest because you’ll do more harm than good but if you really need to miss a training day, don’t let it be leg day. Skip chest, shoulders or arms but not legs.
Two things lead me to post this write up about leg day. One, training your legs hard with heavy compound movements such as (and especially) squats will enhance your strength in all areas. There are claims that training legs can actually boost your natural testosterone and growth hormone levels. So if you’re ignoring your legs or going soft on training them you’re missing out on overall dense muscle mass gains. The second reason I wanted to put this out there, and this hit me the other day, is your legs are your largest muscle group yet most of us spend the least amount of time training them. I’m not suggesting hitting legs more than once a week; if you kill them on leg day you’re going to need time to recover. But think about it, of all days to miss the gym why would you miss leg day? Your upper body is getting attention 3-4 days a week, depending on your training split and your legs (for most) get 1 day a week. It just doesn’t make sense out of all those training days to let legs be the one to miss…unless of course you have genetically gifted legs. Most of us don’t.
Although there are a few weightlifters and bodybuilders out there with a gifted set of wheels the majority of us are forced to train legs intensely for lower body development. In fact, you probably notice that overall leg development is lacking in most recreational weight trainers. The benches are always packed but look over towards the squat rack and it’s often a desolate land. Regardless of your personal goals (whether it’s bodybuilding or powerlifting) most of us still want a balanced physique. Hardcore leg training benefits both in regards to strength gains and aesthetics.
Lastly I also want to address the importance of proper form and full range of motion when training legs. Although I’m a believer in heavy weights for building muscle I believe getting full range of motion of every rep is far more beneficial than half reps as you often see (this is especially true on the leg press; folks pile on endless 45 lb plates and go a few inches down – those aren’t reps and aren’t building the muscle). I don’t mean that you should lock out because that will only put pressure on your knees and other places; I’m talking about when descending (ass to ground on squats, knees to chest on leg press). Try going a little lighter and hitting 12-15 reps with full range of motion. Trust me; you’ll be walking funny for a few days. Back to the meat of this post, remember to make leg day a priority especially if you know you need to bring that body part up to speed with your upper body.
Train with Passion,