Whether you're a man or woman, you should have a leg day in your routine, period. These days we are over-saturated with the beach body physique of arms, shoulders, and basically the upper-body only mentality. But if you want to take your health and fitness to the next level you had better put your ego aside, change your mindset and hit those twigs you call legs. Incorporating certain foundational exercises such as squats and deadlifts alone will have benefits no other exercises can give you.
Were you aware that by increasing your leg strength you also help build your upper-body muscle and strength as well? From contracting your arms during a heavy squat/deadlift to having chest tensions during reps of deadlifts you can automatically give your upper-body a secondary workout. This comes in handy for those of us who are dealing with upper-body injuries and don’t want to lose the hard earned muscle we spent so much time working to get.
Did you realize that you use your legs during bench exercises? By having more leg strength you increase your leg drive, which in turn increases the amount of weight you can bench, which means bigger muscles. Additionally, don’t forget the core strength you are increasing by doing squats and deadlifts. Increased core strength will help with almost all compound and standing exercises like overhead press, pull-ups, standing bent over rows etc.
Think about the symmetry as well! How many times have you seen that guy or girl who has an extremely disproportionate upper-body compared to their insane toothpick legs? Yeah, and I’m 100% certain you never said you wanted to look like that, so why would you stay on the road that leads to that?
Personally, the toughest thing for me was having the mental strength to put my ego aside and not care how silly or weak I might look. Just like anything in life, once you put enough time and effort towards a certain area, it will show positive results. Do yourself a favor and put the headphones in, keep your focus on the task and ignore everyone else around you. They aren’t going to lift the weight for you, so why should you give them any attention? It’s you -vs- you and that’s all that matters.
Below you will find a leg routine I’ve prepared you. If you’re new to the leg game take it one step at a time. Be smart and choose the weight safely. If you can lift it, yet it’s challenging, then you are on the right track. I’m not going to lie, leg day is rarely fun. It’s sweaty, it hurts, and there might even be some vomiting… But I guarantee you that when it’s all said and done, you are going to feel accomplished and ready to take it on again the following week.
Leg Day Routine:
Barbell Squats - Warm-up 1 set x 15-20 reps, followed by 3 sets x 4-6 reps: If you need more than 1 warm-up set that is fine. Take as many as you need to make sure you get loose and warmed-up. Just be sure not to count any of them towards your working set.
Leg Press - 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps: Take a foot position that is shoulder width apart and don’t forget that your knees should not be going farther than your toes when coming into the concentric movement of the rep.
Leg Extensions - 3 sets x 12 reps on 1st set and 10 reps each on the 2nd and 3rd sets: Put your ego aside and remember this exercise requires no swinging of the body and slamming of the weight. Explode on the way up and work to get full knee extension and contraction at the top portion, then slowly bring the weight back to starting position. The eccentric is just as important as the concentric, if not more important.
Prone Position Hamstring Curls - 3 sets x 15 reps on 1st set, 12 reps on 2nd set and 10 reps on 3rd set: Keep your upper torso down when performing the rep. People tend to bend up and rock their body as if they were a banana boat or something. Form and execution is what will benefit you more than any amount of weight.
Walking Lunges (Barbell or Dumbbell) - 4 sets x 30 steps: Your leg will be a shaky jello mess by now. Take a few practice lunges to get your body ready for the movement that’s about to come. When choosing a weight, feel free to start off lighter and work your way up once your legs have gotten situated to the exercise.