What is often referred to as Leg Day is a day that some beginner weightlifters either don't know about or actively avoid. More seasoned lifters know that if they skip leg day they will end up unbalanced, top heavy, injured, and also may end up being featured in the next "never skip leg day" meme on social media.
To some, leg day is the worst day of the workout week. They feel this way because they would rather be pumping up their arms, their shoulders, or (most often) their chest. As much as it is forgotten about, some lifters would even rather be working their back! But on leg day, they are stuck working a part of the body that shows the least but poops you out the most. That is what I think is the major issue that people have with leg day—too much effort for a body part they can’t admire 24/7.
All that being said, there are many great reasons not to skip leg day and today we are going to examine a few of them. So, if you skip leg day, a few things will happen.
- You Will Look Unbalanced
- Your Sports Performance Will Decline
- You Won’t Go As Fast
- You Will Burn Fewer Calories
- Your Hormones Will Suffer
- Your Back May Get Sore
- Your Injury Rate Will Go Up
- Your Range of Motion Will Decline
- Your Balance Will Deteriorate
- Your Everyday Life Will Suffer
- You Won’t Be as Smart
Let's dive into each point one by one.
1. You Will Look Unbalanced
I don’t like to focus on aesthetics too much because it just isn’t important when it comes to fitness (or at least it shouldn’t be), but let’s get this one out of the way first. If you spend all your time developing a defined and chiselled upper body but ignore your legs, you run the risk of looking unbalanced. It is easy to spot someone who lifts regularly but who clearly spends their time hammering their chest, arms, and shoulders. The result is a rippling torso piled on top of small glutes and quads, and even smaller calves.
2. Your Sports Performance Will Decline
In pretty much all sports, your power and strength come from a thing called ground force production. That simply means that the majority of your movement starts at the ground, moves up through your feet, then through your ankles, torqued through your knees and hips to create the force in your upper body. In many ways, your legs really are the foundation of your performance. Simply put, the stronger your foundation, the stronger, faster, and more powerful you will be.
Simply put, the stronger your foundation, the stronger, faster and more powerful you will be.
3. You Won’t Go As Fast
Research shows that strength training can improve running economy in runners. And other research shows that cyclists who strengthened their lower body have more raw power during the crucial final sprint of a race than those who skipped leg day. Maximal strength training has been shown to improve work economy in trained female cross-country skiers. Explosive-strength training has been shown to improve 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. I could go on and on. Suffice to say that science has found that lower body resistance training and speed go hand in hand.
4. You Will Burn Fewer Calories
If you want to lose body fat then you are probably looking for a workout that gives you the best results. Once again, leg day to the rescue! Since the largest muscles in your body burn up the most energy when they are being used, leg day will increase the amount of energy you burn during the workout.
Since the largest muscles in your body burn up the most energy when they are being used, leg day will increase the amount of energy you burn during the workout.
One of the best exercises for this is the Squat (weighted or not). The squat really works the entire body, while it specifically hits the largest muscles in the body. This means that it burns a lot of energy during the workout and sets your body up to burn even more in the hours after your workout.
There is also the fact that adding muscle mass to your body actually increases your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns outside of the gym). With that in mind, focusing on the part of your body with the largest muscles (your legs) is a very effective tool for long-term fat loss.