Legs for many gym-goers are the bane of their existence. They haunt their every presence with no mercy it seems. When one of these sufferers of leg-ophobia wakes up in the middle of the night, they pray that it is not legs that is under their bed.
People have no problem hitting chest and arms multiple times a week but when it comes to any kind of lower body exercise they cower in fear. This self perpetuating cycle continues eternally. As one continues to progress at their upper body movements, they begin to enjoy them more as they become stronger than ever.
The gap between their upper and lower body widens. The situation becomes even harder to face up to as that brutal squat session keeps getting pushed back. It doesn’t have to be this way. Believe it or not, legs are the favourite muscle group for many to work out. I am sure many of us have been there at one stage or another (I know I have) but a time comes when you begin to relish the chance to smash your previous PRs and leave them in the dust. So without further a do, here we go.
1 The room for progress is huge
Yes the legs are a group of extremely powerful muscles once put together that can move some heavy ass weight. If you are just starting off exploring what they can do, then the room for improvement is enormous. A great amount of strides can be made in a short period of time when training.
The main problem will be with taking caution to ensure one does not go too aggressively so to avoid over-reaching. This is not like training your biceps, with legs those 5lb plates add up over time. Combined with the right nutrition, massive weights can be shifted before you even know it. Eat some chicken and rice and go do some big-ass squats.
2 Don’t be that chicken leg guy
We all know him. If you don’t know who I am talking about then you may be him. I’m speaking about that guy at the gym who is jacked up top but has two twigs to stand on. It is not a good look at all and one will often find these sorts hiding out in long pants to hide their shame. We all notice, it’s hard not to.
Soy oozes out of the guy who has never seen the power with which his legs can produce.
3 A proportionate physique is essential
The Greek statues and aesthetic bodybuilders of old had sculpted physiques that didn’t just end at their waist. To engage in the original Olympic games in Athens a pair of tree trunks was necessary to stand any chance. We never end up hearing about those who failed in these games because the losers statues were never erected and their stories were never told. Do you see the connection here? The losers had small legs that’s what. It is quite sad really when you think about it. Don’t be like the losers. Be like the winners who had their statues erected, their stories told and had muscular legs.
Old, classic bodybuilders were known for their V-shaped taper physique (wide shoulders and a narrow waist). But for the complete package a pair of muscular legs was required. Without them, the ever-so sought after V-taper would have looked completely out of proportion. Just look at Steve Reeves for a prime example.
Many see the bodybuilders of today and get the wrong impression completely. With their gut bellies and monstrous X-shaped physiques being a staple it is no wonder few want to emulate their appearance. For that reason they believe that training their legs will cause them to look like professional bodybuilders. Believe me, it will not. For that to be the case it would require tons of anabolic steroids, top-tier genetics and insane training for years upon end. If you don’t have any one of these then there is nothing to worry about. Consistent lower body resistance training will NOT make your legs look that way. There are no excuses.
4 The lower body is attractive to the opposite sex
Yes, girls love strong legs. They frequently rank among the top of the most desired body parts on a partner for women. Whether it be glutes, quads or even hamstrings (yes people have hamstring fetishes… I think) one can find at least one of these near the top of the pile. No matter what the most recent round of IG booty models may have you believe, squats are for men as well.
“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.” ― Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength
5 You may have golden calves
Calves are often times the runt of the muscle litter with little to no attention paid to them. This is because the calves are notoriously difficult to bring up in size due to them being such a small, high-endurance type muscle. As the old saying goes you don’t know until you try. What if you are standing on the most majestic calves on planet earth? Before you can make such a claim, a trip to the calf raise machine is in order.
There are few things more bad-ass than a pair of boulders for calves. If you are one of the lucky few blessed with these genetics, you have a duty to fulfill. If you choose to ignore this duty then you are doing yourself and the rest of humanity a disservice by not bringing your calves up. This is an unwritten rule, I guess not any more.
6 You curl in the squat rack
That “big bar for curls” you have been using is actually a barbell for heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts. If you have just been redpilled on curling in the squat rack then you my friend are part of the problem. To repent for your sins, a heavy front squat session is in order. This brings me onto my next reason…
Do you know that area of the gym which you never venture into? No, not the crossfit zone. This is a land with all kinds of weird curling machines that don’t give you a bicep pump. That’s because it’s not for your arms. These are quad and hamstring curl machines. Yes, they have the same basic movement but they work a different body part, no need to be afraid.
The leg area offers many opportunities for growth, both in muscle mass and mental fortitude. By avoiding half of ones body, you are shortchanging yourself. Training legs with heavy weight consistently will push ones body and mind to places it hasn’t been before. This is what training is about after all, isn’t it?
8 ‘Waist thickening’ is a nothing burger
Squats and deadlifts will not thicken your waist. When many hear about these heavy compound movements they cry foul and make up a lame excuse such as they don’t want to get their waist too bulky. They say these things because there are many with influence in the fitness industry who preach this line of thinking. Bret Contraes goes into many of the reasons why this isn’t true in his article here.
Some of the reasons covered were that those who complain about squats and deadlifts thickening their waist are trying to change the goalposts. In reality, it is the steroids and Growth Hormone they are using which is known to increase organ size in the gut area. Combined with the massive growth in size these bodybuilders undergo, as bigger people require larger organs to facilitate their growth has caused such huge waists. Using squats and deadlifts as a scapegoat is unjust. It is keeping those who need them the most away from their power.
Life is unpredictable and it is better to be prepared for the unexpected. Danger can come at any time from anywhere. A pair of legs in top condition will give you the best chance of surviving any situation. Whether you need to lift, pull, push, run or carry – strong muscles in your lower body are crucial. The ability to push off the ground with a greater amount of force with each stride is enhanced. This enables each stride to take less time and thus more ground can be covered using less effort.
Having a strong lower body can accelerate you forward, allowing you to move more rapidly. Fatigue is slower to set in and at the same time an energy-efficient posture is engaged to allow you to run with better form. If you ever need to save yourself or anybody else you will be glad you trained your legs to the same intensity as your upper body. In any real world situation, the guy who hasn’t become proficient with the use of their legs will be at a severe disadvantage.
10 DOMS shouldn’t be an issue after a while
The reason why some avoid training legs is because of the pain or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) they get after doing so. The reality is that by training legs so infrequently they are making the problem worse. The reason DOMS occurs is because a muscle isn’t being trained often enough, it isn’t badge of honour necessarily. After a while of getting into training DOMS shouldn’t be an issue if you are training consistently.
Legs should be hit at least once a week minimum. If you are focusing on them then twice a week is preferable depending on volume and intensity. Whether you are training them separately or along with other muscles as part of a full body workout program, frequency is important.
”I get really bad DOMS man!” Isn’t a valid excuse, here is why:
If you are ready to finally train your legs or to start again after a lay-off then that’s great. Now is the perfect time to get started. Of course there are tons of different leg exercises and variations to choose from. Everyone has their favourite but if you are just starting off then don’t think you have to re-invent the wheel. Sometimes the most poplar exercises are that way for a reason.
What you need to do:
- Stick to the basics
- Form>weight. Get the technique down and the strength will follow
- Whether it be a front, low-bar or high-bar squat – depth is important. Full squats produce greater overall muscle development than half-ass squats. The hip crease should be below the highest point of the femur (thigh bone)
- Increase weight when you are ready. For squats/deadlifts this will be every session when starting off. The progress slows once you become more experienced.
- Eat big to get big. Big movements and weight require big calories.
There you have it. 10 reasons to train your legs. Some reasons are more serious than others but they all have an underlying truth to them.
Stop being Soy and work your damn legs son.