Don’t skip leg day: our top tips
Ask anyone who’s been around the gym for at least a week what the toughest thing about training is, and you can almost bet they’ll turn their harrowed gaze on you and whisper “leg day.”
But for all that leg workouts make you huff, puff and walk like a pirate the next day, they’re an essential part of training.
Why Is Leg Training Important?
There are a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t skip leg day. Here are a few of the key ones.
- Leg training is essential for symmetry
This may not seem like the most pressing concern right off the bat, but have you ever seen someone in the gym with a massive upper body, cranking out set after set of bench press and curls, but with tiny, narrow legs?
Training your muscles for hypertrophy naturally includes an element of vanity – you want to look your best. The thing is, you won’t look your best without training your legs and your upper body equally.
Training your legs is important for a symmetrical, balanced physique.
- Leg training improves functional strength
Do you just want to look strong, or do you actually want to be strong?
If you’d like to be able to walk the walk, you’ve got to train your legs. Almost all movements in day-to-day life where you’ll be using your strength, will include serious involvement from the lower body – the posterior chain and the quadriceps.
Think about lifting a couch. You squat down, get in place, keep your back straight, and essentially deadlift the weight.
- Leg training may increase overall muscle gain
There’s evidence that more intense training significantly increases the amount of testosterone, and other anabolic hormones, circulating in the body. At least for a short while.
Few exercises are going to exhaust you as completely as leg exercises, meaning they might significantly improve your muscle building efforts across the board.
Tips for getting that leg workout done
Now that you know why leg day is important, here are some top tips for keeping yourself on track and never skipping it again.
- Set yourself a goal to do the bare minimum
There’s a useful trick for sticking to your goals, which involves committing to doing the absolute, bare minimum.
You might be thinking that sounds like a terrible way of achieving anything, but be aware that the real key here is in dissolving your own mental blocks.
If you set yourself the mission of going to the gym, doing one bodyweight squat, and leaving, you’ll find that not only do you almost never skip going to the gym – but that you almost always end up completing your full workout too. After all, once you’re already there, you’ll tend to think “I may as well do this properly.”
And if you’re in a really bad state and can’t get yourself to train, just do that single bodyweight squat all the same. It’ll start conditioning your mind to get into to the habit of heading to the gym for a leg workout, either way.
- Strip it back to basics
One key reason for people skipping their gym sessions is that things just get too intense, painful, and time-consuming.
Most likely, if you’ve been training for a while, you’ve ended up adding a bunch of accessory exercises to get the most out of each session and to “hit the muscles from every angle.”
You’ve probably managed to power through for a while by yelling motivational slogans at yourself in the mirror like “pain is weakness leaving the body.”
Sooner or later, though, you will feel burned out, and forcing yourself down to the gym will become more and more of an emotional slog.
Instead of skipping your sessions altogether, strip your workout back to basics. Instead of doing squats, hack squats, leg press, lunges, and so on in a single workout, just commit to doing your squats and go home.
You’ll still gain strength and size, and the lower frequency might even allow your CNS to recover and improve your gains. It’s pretty much a given that it’ll improve your motivation.
- Do your workout first thing in the morning
Getting your workout done after the end of a long day is often tough – especially when you’re already worn out and there’s no real external reason for you to get down to the gym and train.
So try training first thing in the morning, before work, instead. Not only will you be relatively fresh (at least after breakfast and your first twelve cups of coffee) but you’ll have a tight time limit in the gym which will keep you from overthinking.
And once you’re done training, you can carry that feeling of accomplishment with you through the whole day.
For a step-by-step guide on how to perform a range of leg exercises, check out our free exercises section.