There’s a saying in the weightlifting world. “Don’t skip leg day.”
And that’s still great advice.
When most people think of getting cut, they’re typically thinking of big arms, a defined back, and abs. It’s less common for people to think about their legs. But legs play a role in virtually everything we do. They’re important and we should treat them like they are.
In this article, we’ll tell you more about your legs and what you can do to take full advantage of leg day.
When we’re talking about leg muscles, we’re really talking about four main muscle groups.
The four, big muscle groups found in your leg are:
Hamstrings – Your hamstrings are the muscle found on the back of your upper leg. Your hamstrings consist of three large muscles. They’re primarily used for extending your hips or knees. Of the two major muscle groups, the other being your quads, your hamstrings tend to be weaker.
Quadriceps – Are on the front of your upper leg and work as a counterbalance to your hamstrings. Quads are used for pushing. They’re usually stronger than your hamstrings by a 5:8 ratio. Although it’s worth mentioning that that ratio usually decreases in women and increases in men.
Calves – Your calves are found on the back of your lower leg. Your calf muscles are what let you pull your heels up and move forward. Without calves, you essentially don’t have the capacity for efficient forward motion.
Glutes – Everyone knows what glutes are. They’re the muscles around your butt. We can make butt jokes all day long, but in reality, you’re glutes are incredibly important. They help determine your overall body strength as well as help support a range of different compound motions.
So yes, everyone wants a good looking butt, but you should also want nice glutes because they will affect your overall health as well.
When it comes to the term leg day, it can vary from person to person on what that means. Some people dedicate a day to only training legs… others will split up some key leg movements into different days (for example, a squat day and a deadlift day)… while others still will do CrossFit or group fitness classes that incorporate some legs almost every workout.
But to keep this simple, I will be talking about a leg day in the traditional sense of spending the 30 to 60 minutes in the gym to primarily focus on training your legs. When doing so you’ll want to make sure that you hit each of these four muscle groups. This will both maximize the effectiveness of your workout, but it will also maximize the end result of months and months of hard work.
If you are not doing a traditional leg day routine, you will want to work these exercises in when you can as they are highly effective for strengthening, building, and conditioning your legs the way you want!
If you want to make the most out of leg day, then you should focus on doing the best leg day exercises. Here are five leg day exercises that can be great additions to your leg workout and you should consider incorporating them into your next workout.
Squats are fantastic for the entire leg. Not only do squats workout your thighs, hips. Glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, but they also help improve your core as well. That’s because you have to keep your whole body in good form when doing squats.
If you want your squats to help your quads a bit more you can do high bar squats. If you want to focus on your hamstrings a bit more you can do low bar squats. Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of air squats, especially for your at home workouts or when you don’t have access to the gym.
Calf raises are a great way to focus specifically on your calves. People often forget to exercise their calves during a leg day. Now, growing your calves is difficult and quite honestly having big calves does not directly increase your performance in the gym or on the athletic field… so if you don’t specifically want to get bigger calves I would not focus too heavily on calf raises.
Walking lunges are a great way of working out your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The key to good lunges is proper form. When done properly you will be engaging all of the major muscle groups in your legs. This will help with overall strength, growth (if you are eating enough to grow), and burn more calories.
You can add weight to your walking lunges by wearing a weight vest, carrying dumbbells, or if space allows… using a barbell to really turn up the intensity.
A deadlift is like a squat in that it’s an all-body workout. Deadlifts are great for your back, glutes, hamstring and the rest of your leg. Adding deadlifts to your workout is almost never a bad idea!
As you will hear us say time and time again though, make sure to use good form. Using good form and activating and stimulating the right muscles is more important than the actual number of pounds you are using when doing deadlifts. In other words, leave your ego at the door.
Leg presses are great for your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It might not be an all-body workout but it’s definitely an all-leg workout. Leg presses are great because you have to both push and extend in the same exercise.
Leg Press is also good for beginners to get use to the movement and range of motion … they are good for doing a “burn out” set more safely than with a barbell … and depending on foot placement can target your legs differently to stimulate them differently.
Your leg muscles are large, powerful muscle groups. That’s true whether you’re live a pretty sedentary life or if you pride yourself in being super athletic. It takes a lot of work, weight, and time to develop stronger leg muscles.
One of the best things you can do to improve your leg day workout is to fuel properly with nutrition and use the right supplements to aid in performance and most importantly … RECOVERY after leg day!
On leg day, you’ll want to make sure you’re using both pre-workout and post-workout supplements. Pre-workout supplements will give your legs the initial boost they need to start your workout right.
Proper post-workout supplements will make sure you give your body the nutrients it needs ASAP when you are done training to recovery properly and as quickly as possible.
To stay focused on the topic at hand, I won’t get into proper post-workout here, but instead will refer you to one of our most popular blogs that explains the importance of post-workout recovery if you want to earn the best results… which I am not sure why you are training hard, eating healthy, or even researching (like you are right now) how to maximize your leg day if you didn’t want the best results.
In order to get the best results, and get the most out of your leg day you need a solid training program, a quality nutrition plan, and a few key supplements like a proper post workout. The great news is, we can help you with all of those! We help thousands of people a day with their nutrition and workout plans all for free through our customer service lines! Shoot on top of that we help exponentially more people every day with the My TransPHORMation App!
But, as I am sure you know… getting the most out of your workout starts with you giving your most… well that’s not English but it sounded too good not to say haha What I meant is you have to give your best effort. That is step one… because no nutrition, workout, or supplement plan will help you if you are not doing the work.
If you have any questions or need any help at all, please never hesitate to reach out! We have a fully staffed team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialists that will help you for free! They are available Monday thru Friday 6 am to 10 pm CST at 1-800-409-9732… or anytime via email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.
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