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.
10. Your Everyday Life Will Suffer
If you ever have to pick up a box, carry some groceries, or move a piece of furniture, you will find that it is much easier if you have some solid lower body strength. Yes, even if you have super strong arms and a powerful back, you will still be much happier when you lift something heavy if you have some power in your glutes, quads, hams, and calves.
You will be much happier when you lift something heavy if you have some power in your glutes, quads, hams, and calves.
11. You Won’t be as Smart
I have talked about the connection between physical activity and brain health before in an article called How Exercise Affects Your Brain but there was a recent study that dug even further into this relationship. To tell us more about that, I asked our friends, Ashley and Cody, over at the Curiosity.com podcast, to fill us in.
CODY: Alright Ashley, do you ever skip leg day?
CODY: Me neither!
ASHLEY: Leg day's the best!
CODY: I actually like leg day because it's so efficient! Squats and deadlifts and you're kinda out there, right?
ASHLEY: I mean…
CODY: I mean, you CAN go deeper. But are you getting a pretty thorough workout between two exercises?
ASHLEY: They are your biggest muscles, and you are burning the most calories with those huge muscles, and you're doing great things for your body.
CODY: I like efficiency! Well a groundbreaking new study from just last month has shown that leg exercise is critical to brain and nervous system health. We already knew that not using your legs can reduce bone and muscle mass, like in astronauts in low gravity or in bedridden patients. But a team of researchers wanted to know if restricting leg mobility would affect the brain. They ran tests on some mice by immobilizing their legs for 28 days. The result was a 70 percent reduction in the number of neural stem cells in their brains, compared to the freely moving control group. That’s huge. Without those cells, neurogenesis doesn’t happen — that means new cell development. Brain health also declines as dead cells aren’t replaced. So the takeaway is this: don’t skip leg day!
ASHLEY: Little caveat that it is an animal study, so it doesn't necessarily extend to humans. But there's a good chance that it does.
CODY: Yeah. Better safe than sorry, right?
ASHLEY: I mean, leg day's great.
CODY: Also, you don't want to be a tank on stilts.
ASHLEY: That's right.
Thanks, Ashley and Cody! I am pleased to hear that you are both such big fans of leg day. Which means that you might enjoy this next section.
A Quick and Dirty Leg Workout
Now that you know why you should do it, you might need some inspiration for how to do it. There are many awesome leg workouts available if you do a quick search, but here is a Get-Fit Guy quick and dirty leg workout that you can add into your workout regimen today.
In the following workout, RM stands for “repetition max,” which is the number of reps that you are able to do before your form starts to fall apart while using a particular weight. So, 6RM means that you would choose a weight that allows you to do six solid reps.
After a good warm-up, do the following workout as a circuit. That means you alternate between the a and the b exercises three times before you move to the next set of exercises. If you have the time and the energy, go through this entire routine two times.
- Set 1a. Squats – 6RM
- Set 1b. Jogging on the spot (high knees) – 60 seconds
Rest for 30 seconds between exercises and sets.
- Set 2a. Step-ups – 6RM per leg
- Set 2b. Jumping jacks – 60 seconds
Rest for 30 seconds.
- Set 3a. Elevated Hip Thrusters – 6RM
- Set 3b. Walking lunges – 10 per leg
Rest of 30 seconds.
- Set 4a. Deadlifts - 8RM
- Set 4b. Lateral Lunges - 10 per leg
Rest for 30 seconds.
- Set 5a. Glute Ham Raises - 8RM
- Set 5b. Squat jumps - 60 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds and (if you can handle it) start from the beginning again for a total of two times through.
When it comes to squeezing in a good leg workout, we have all struggled at some point. Excuses come pouring in: it’s boring; I would rather work my chest again; sick kid at home; the car is in the shop; or, perhaps the most common, no time to get to the gym. But hopefully now you know that leg day should not be optional. If you want to be a strong and well-rounded mover, it is worth the time and effort. Not to mention that you don’t want to become just another internet meme, now you do, bro?
For more leg info, lower body tips, and to join the balanced body conversation, head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy or twitter.com/getfitguy. Also don't forget to subscribe to the Get-Fit Guy podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play or via RSS.