As a fitness fanatic, I take great pride in developing all aspects of my physical well-being, including dieting, or as I prefer to call it... making a wise lifestyle choice. I firmly stick by the whole 'abs are made in the kitchen,' and not just through sit-ups... and of course, I ensure I perform correct training. If I was asked to advise just one lifestyle choice, it would definitely consist of incorporating leg day training into your workout routine - and I'll tell you why.
After snapping my ankle and not exercising for 9 months, I began strength training which allowed my legs to become significantly stronger and I was immediately able to lift my body weight! Thanks to the strength training, my other training sessions improved rapidly, helping my overall well-being dramatically increase.
The advantages of leg training became endless. On that note, I present my top 5 reasons why you shouldn't skip leg day...
1) Leg Day Enhances Overall Muscle
"Legs are only one body part... surely skipping leg day wouldn't make much difference to muscle gains?"... Is exactly what some may think when they read the above statement. Putting the time and effort into including leg workouts in your weekly routine may benefit the quality of your overall muscle gains...
A significant amount of articles, books and studies state that squats and deadlifts increase growth hormone and testosterone more than any other exercise. Having more of these natural muscle building hormones ultimately lead to a beautiful thing called a...
2) Leg Day Creates A Bigger Upper Body
Performing isolated exercises such as tricep extensions or bicep curls work specific body parts that allows small muscle groups to grow. Again, larger compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts work your whole body, targeting large muscle groups for overall muscle growth. Large compound exercises benefit:
Squeezing the barbell with a tight grip and holding concentration uses all of your arms muscles. For example, your bicep muscles are trained when a tension is created through using a supinated or mixed grip to deadlift.
Abdominal muscles stabilize your body during both the eccentric and concentric phases of squatting, in addition to the top of the concentric phase of deadlifting.
When performed correctly, chest muscles are tensed during deadlifts.
Whilst suffering from other injuries, muscle loss can be prevented simply by performing heavy squats and deadlifts.
According to world renowned strength coach, Charles Poliquin, full squatting produces greater overall muscle development, incorporating the gluteus, hamstrings and quadriceps for superior growth, strength and power, allowing for greater upper-body lifts, as opposed to the half-squat. They also train a stronger lower body making for a more athletic look and better posture.
Whilst the Smith Machine does allow the lifter to lift more weight, the core has less stabilization to do as the machine controls the motion, which also means less abdominal fat is torched.
3) Leg Day For Increased Strength
Stronger squats and stronger deadlifts mean stronger legs and core - and increasing strength for upper-body lifts inevitably leads to an increase in the upper body muscle.
For example, training to achieve an increase in leg strength will provide you with a more powerful leg drive whilst bench pressing. Leg drive is essential as the bench press is a full body exercise. A stronger drive provides a stronger core to press a heavier bar... and the bigger the bar the bigger the muscles!
In addition, squats and deadlifts promote leg and lower back strength. These are muscles that help provide a stronger Overhead Press, inevitably leading to broader shoulders.
4) Leg Day For Better Symmetry
It’s one thing to have a big upper-body, but when it’s compared to skinny legs... it's just unforgivable. The great Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t initially train his calves due to it not being aesthetic priority in Europe at the time - this lack of definition lead to him coming second, not winning Mr. Universe, in 1966. After hard work and dedication, he went back and won and is now the most famous bodybuilder of all time.
Yes, I am using Schwarzenegger to make a point!
Calves aren't the only body part that should be considered in your training routine. Let's talk about quads! You'd think it a crime to skip leg day after seeing the incredible wheels on Schwarzenegger. No-one wants to hide their legs under baggy trousers at all times - what about the beach?!
Train your legs... you won't regret it.
5) For Better Mentality
I love the powerful mentality I have when I lift weights - especially training legs, which definitely tests my willpower from time to time! I find that the more you lift, the more mentally involved you become, making the muscle-building process happen a lot quicker.
Some people might neglect their legs for their aesthetic muscles - neglecting the points that I have made above. Although it can be mentally tough to overcome the initial strength building of compound moves such as squats and deadlifts, it eventually builds your mental endurance and character.
Leg training can only be a beneficial factor that contributes towards your long term goals.
I feel an incredible strength increase both mentally and the physically from incorporating regular leg training sessions into my weekly routine. The progressive increase in weight has also made all the difference to the quality of my overall training. Anyone trying to increase strength, power and gain muscle - do yourself a favor and don't skip leg day!