In this article, we will discuss a statement many athletes or weightlifters live by: Never skip leg day. Why is this so important though? Many people work out in a gym but do not like working out their legs. Some of the excuses they use are “You can’t walk the next day” or “I wear long trousers 75% of the year so it doesn’t matter”. These are not valid reasons not to train your legs though. And here’s why.
Legs are a 3rd of Your Body
Your body exists of head, trunk and limbs. Men mostly focus on their chest, shoulders, back and abs. But your legs are the foundation of your body. They are your strongest limbs – even without training them – and enable you to stand and move. When performing a push-up, for example, you are leaning on your legs. If you don’t train your legs you eventually can’t progress enough in other body parts. The reason is that you end up out of balance. For big weight lifts this can become a problem when at a higher level.
One third of your body consists of your legs. Your quadriceps are the biggest muscles in your body. Furthermore, if you have a well-defined chest and back but no well-developed leg muscles you will look like a chicken. Chickens have a well-rounded trunk but small legs. Don’t take it personal. We are not trying to insult you. But you know it is true. A body that does not have the right proportions is usually not pleasing to look at. Of course, there are people who are unable to work out their legs because they’re in a wheelchair. But they still want to train their physique and that is great.
Building Muscle on Leg Day Increases Testosterone
There are some types of training that boost your testosterone (T) levels. We will publish an article about that soon. In short, after the age of 35 testosterone levels start to drop in healthy males. Resistance training and high intensity interval training (HITT) are workouts that can boost your testosterone levels, especially in men. Testosterone stimulates growth hormone levels, which helps building up muscle.
In the case of resistance training this means:
- Heavy loads around 70-75% of your 1 repetition maximum (1RM)
- Compound exercises that involve whole body movements
Squats, deadlifts, chest presses and pull ups are great examples of these exercises. Since your legs make up one third of your body, you could miss out on one third of your testosterone boost. The biggest muscle of your body is in your legs. If the quadriceps gets a heavy workout your body will produce more testosterone. More testosterone means more growth hormone which in turn leads to more hypertrophy and growth in your upper body too.
Did you know you can add resistance to your leg workout by using a weighted vest?
Leg Day Reduces Risk of Injury
You use your legs everyday with walking, cycling, going up the stairs, etc. Skipping leg day can result in a risk of lower body injury and general health, especially at an older age. Not skipping leg day will result in devolving of the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves for mobilization and stabilize your fragile knee and ankle joints. Stronger glute muscles will stabilize your pelvis and hips and help your lower back. Strong legs can decrease the risk of lower back injuries too.
As you age, your body will break down slowly. Bones, cartilage and muscles become weaker. But a healthy lifestyle and well-trained legs can help slow down these processes in your knees, ankles and hips. It also provides increased mobility when getting up from a chair or walking great distances. Problems of ageing may seem far away for you, but they are closer than you think. Around the age of 35, degenerative processes start having an impact and since most people have jobs that only require them to sit your legs probably don’t get as much as exercise as people got in the past.
Take Home Message
You are free to train whatever you like, but we strongly recommend you to work out your legs. If you train three times a week, at least one training should be considered leg day. When training four times a week, we recommend an upper-lower body split. It really helps you achieve a strond physique. If you have trouble creating a leg workout for yourself, feel free to ask us for help. And be sure to check out our series of articles on leg excercises in calisthenics.