Lots of people shy away from training their legs in the gym for a number of reasons, all of which tend to be poor excuses hiding the fact that they just don’t want to do it. I’ve listed some of the most common excuses below;
‘You can’t see them’ Probably the most widely used excuse is that why should you train your legs when nobody is going to see the? These people will focus on training their upper body as all they are looking for is that ‘cover model’ torso.
‘I can’t walk the next day’ after training a particular muscle group it will be (or should be) relatively sore the next day, this is due to the stresses of a good workout tearing the muscles fibres. Sounds painful, but this is what you’re looking for as this is when your muscles grows back bigger and stronger. With the legs this can result in discomfort when you walk, people see this as ridiculous, ‘Why would you do this to yourself?’
‘I train my legs when I’m on the bike/treadmill’ Yes, when your running you are using your legs. However this is completely different to stressing the muscles in the way a resistance workout does. If you’re looking to run a marathon then racking up the miles on a treadmill is a perfect form of training, but in term of muscle development and weight loss there are much more effective ways to do so.
‘It’s too hard’ People simply find training legs too taxing, the benefits from training legs far out weight the difficulty of the workout. These benefits will be explained later on.
Anatomy Of The Legs
The legs can be broken down into 4 groups of muscles, all of which need to be worked using different exercises. The ‘glutes’ are the muscles which form the bum. Quadriceps are the long muscles down the front of the thigh. Opposite to these at the back of the thigh are the ‘hamstrings’. Then finally, are the calf muscles which sit between the heel and knee. All of these can again be broken down further, however this only becomes apparent when you’re very lean working towards that sculpted set of legs.
Training You’re Legs Works More Than You Might Think
Just because you’re in the gym working your legs, don’t be under the impression that’s all you’ll get from that particular workout. ‘Leg Day’ has some amazing ways of benefiting the whole body. Here’s how;
-Exercises such as squats and deadlifts have been proven to increase the release of Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone into the body, both of which are fundamental in the development of muscle tissue.
-Because the leg muscles are so big you can put a greater load through them, this means more calories are used, in turn kicking your metabolism into overdrive, helping to shift that unwanted weight.
-Spend some time perfecting squats and deadlifts for multiple benefits. Not only do they hit the legs, your arms are used to squeeze the bar tight, your core is needed to stabalise the weight and they are both a great way of strengthening your lower back.
-When developing muscle it is vital to do so equally, this way you limit the risk of a muscular imbalance which in turn will help to prevent an injury. Therefore your lower body needs to be in similar condition to the upper.
-Lunges, deadlifts and squats all put a great amount of stress through your abs, this means that by doing these exercises you are helping to work towards a good set of abs.
-Finally, do you really want to be ‘that guy’ in the gym that everybody talks about for having big strong torso and skinny chicken legs? Not a good look.
It’s Not Just For Guys
Lifting weights as a whole is one of the best ways to burn calories, so doing so with the biggest muscles in the body is an even better way to shift the pounds. Girl’s don’t need to worry about becoming ‘bulky’ or ‘muscly’ from lifting weights as the truth is that provided your diet is appropriate you’ll not put on any extra muscle, you’ll just shed away the extra pounds and tone up the muscles you’ve got.
Exercises such as lunges or squats can be done using just your own body weight to begin with, once this becomes less stressful for the muscles you can begin adding weights to your workout. Don’t allow yourself to do the same workout for months on end, keep mixing it up and increasing the intensity this way your body will keep improving and progressing.
Overall, doing some good functional leg workouts you’ll be working more muscles than intended, you’ll be helping to develop muscle around your whole physique and you will also be increasing the amount of calories you are burning. Whatever it is you are looking for in the gym it will be helped by these additions. Don’t be shy of the ‘slight’ soreness the day after, and enjoy the results.
Any questions, feel free to get in touch. All the best. Pete
Pete Sweeney – Personal Trainer