Hey, it’s leg day.
Wait…come back. Hear me out.
Legs. Those massive beautiful muscles deserve some love and attention. Yet, every single time leg day rolls around, we try to weasel out of it. Tomorrow is leg day for me and I’m already formulating the “avoid leg day plan.”
Your legs contain some of the largest muscles in your body. The hamstrings and the quadriceps aide in providing stability and balance for the rest of your body. Strengthening these muscles adequately will provide you with the ability to do more difficult lifts that engage more parts of your body. This will pack on mass at an overall higher rate when combined with the right diet and workout plan.
Weak legs won’t give you the power or stability you need for those heavy compound lifts.
Your legs have quite a bit going on down there. They move in many ways and contain many joints and flexors to protect. Your hips abduct, adduct and bend. The trick is to build muscle evenly throughout your legs. If you don’t work on them evenly, you risk creating imbalances. Those imbalances can increase your risks of injury. You don’t meet gain goals, while taking care of an injury.
When trying to build leg muscle, how you work out is important. Here are some tips:
Start with the heavy lifts first.
Usually dead lifts or squats, depending on your workout plan. Move on to curls and calf raises later. Since they don’t recruit as much energy, your body can handle them after the heavy lifts. Saving the heavy lifts for last is like paying your bills with what money you have left over from a shopping spree. You won’t have enough left to get the job done.
Do warm up sets or dynamic stretches.
Warming up your joints and flexors are essential to having the strength to lift those heavy bars. Try reps using bodyweight only first and focus on form. You can even do some knee lifts and leg swings before your workout to get the joints going.
Alternate double and single leg exercises.
Doing this allows you to build evenly and improve balance simultaneously. If you’re working on deadlifts, do single leg squats in the same workout. When you do squats, do single leg deadlifts instead of two leg deadlifts. Depending on your split, you could do all single leg exercises and then all regular variations on the other in the rotation. Whatever you do, make sure you work one side the same as the other.
Walk after your workout.
Walking for 5 to 10 minutes after your workout will keep your body working and the muscles using the energy you produced to fuel them. This will decrease lactic acid buildup and soreness. Allow your body the cool down time it needs at a moderate intensity.
Stretching is essential to overall muscle growth. Resting your legs can be tough, they are always lifting you and moving. That’s why you need them to recharge and recover faster. Implementing stretching after your workout and before bed will promote a speedy recovery and some serious quad gains.
Working your leg muscles evenly, allowing them to recover properly and reducing your risk of injury are some pretty hefty benefits. Paying attention to how you workout is more important than how much weight you lift.
What exercises should you do between warm up sets and the moderate pace walk? I’ve combined some of my favorites below, split up by how many legs you should use…just because I love you.
Bulgarian Split Squat – This exercise really isolates the muscles in one leg. Using the back leg for stability only puts all of the weight on your working leg. Make sure to start light, you may not have the balance you think you do. In fact, you likely don’t.
Single Leg Deadlift – Make sure to pick a spot on the floor to stare at for this one. Balance while bending at the waist and keeping the kettle bell steady recruit every supporting muscle in the body, even the core. Start light here to avoid injury and falling over.
Pistol Squat -Using only one leg to squat all the way down and power back up increases the strength in your legs fairly quickly. Start out slow and decrease your range of motion. Single leg squats don’t distribute the weight as evenly so you’ll need to use your muscles to stabilize.
Squats- Squats are the single most important exercise for those of us who still have working knees. Make sure to include several variations of squats in your workout plans. Squat variations can work those hard to get supporting muscles. Use Front Squats and Hack Squats. Sumo squats and Deep squats work different areas as well. Spice up your squat life before you get bored.
- Deadlifts – These will give you some serious strength when performed correctly. Just like the good old squats, mix it up and perform other variations. Romanian and stiff leg are my favorites.
- Box Jumps – These are excellent for agility. They are perfect for explosive power training. Increasing the power in your legs is essential to pushing up those heavier weights.
These movements will help you build up your legs and increase your power. Using these tips and exercises can increase your performance in heavy compound lifts and reduce your risks for injuries.
When coupled with the right nutrition and stretching plans, these exercises will have you seeing overall improvements rather quickly. You can expect stronger legs, more powerful presses and some pretty impressive looking quads. So basically, don’t hate on leg day.