Have you ever been in the gym and seen someone proudly strutting around, showcasing their impressive biceps and abdomens only to see their somewhat ordinary legs that are certainly not in proportion? The chances are that, yes, you have – you might even know someone who this reminds you of.
As the saying goes, don’t skip leg day, because not only do you not want to look like two completely different people fastened together at the waist but working your entire body improves overall performance. For example, do you think that you will be able to squat press half as much with unworked legs compared to someone who regularly dedicated time to building and toning their quads and hamstrings? Of course not, which is why if you are ever tempted to skip leg day, it is you that that is the problem.
Why You Don’t Like Leg Day
Leg day hurts. Of course, it does, it’s supposed to (in a sense) because that is how you know what you are doing is working. For muscle to grow, it must break – this is why you are sore after training muscles for the first time in a long while or having upped your intensity by doing more reps and/or increasing the weight. It is also why many gym-goers, especially those looking specifically to build muscle, down a protein shake after their workout to aid the body’s recovery.
You don’t like leg day because it’s hard. Because you find it difficult to walk afterwards. You don’t like to workout your legs because you would much rather pick up a set of dumbbells and perform a hundred bicep curls to get your veins popping rather than pushing through a hard, but essential, exercise that will transform your performance in other areas.
If you don’t like leg day, then you need to make your session work for you. If you are not a fan of pushing yourself on the leg press then that’s fine, substitute it for something more exciting like a squat jump with plyometric boxes, or finding exercises that use only your bodyweight for resistance. Moving as much weight as possible isn’t always the answer, with correct form and technique also required to see improvement – if the reason you don’t like leg day is that you are struggling, you are likely trying to do too much with poor form, which is how injury happens.
The Benefits of Not Skipping Leg Day
The clearest benefit of leg day is not looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger walking around with the legs of Jack Whitehall. The second biggest benefit is the improved performance you will see in other activities and exercises, such as running and weightlifting. If you are a keen runner, then working your leg muscles will have a major advantage, with toned calf, hamstring and quad muscles all working together as you run.
Additionally, stronger leg muscles will reduce the risk of injury. Runners are most likely to suffer from leg injuries such as runner’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome), Achilles tendinitis and IT band syndrome and some form of cross-training, such as working the muscles in and around these areas, will make the legs stronger and more resilient.
Weightlifters and bodybuilders will also reap the rewards of persevering with leg day, especially when performing exercises that work the entirety of the body. For example, barbell squats require enormous amounts of core strength, with much of the power coming from the back of the hamstrings and thigh area.
Allow yourself a little treat, perhaps in the form of a cheat day, to look forward to after your session, just to give you that little added motivation to get your workout in. This could be in the form of something edible, such as a naughty snack that isn’t strictly in line with your diet, or having a day off afterwards as something of a pat on the back (this will also help your muscles to recover after a hard session).
Even the most dedicated of trainers can have days where they suffer from a lack of motivation, as well as finding themselves in the middle of a session that feels like a hard slog. The biggest motivation is to think about how good you will feel once the session is over and the hard work is done.