Friends don’t let friends skip leg day. Ever.
Too many people think that because you don’t see their legs when they wear jeans, they don’t need to train legs. Besides, leg day is miserable, right? Lame excuses… Every last one of them.
Leg day is by far the most important day of the week when it comes to lifting (if you don’t have a day dedicated to legs, then any day in which you focus predominantly on your lower body). Your legs are your foundation. If you don’t build on a good foundation, your upper body progress will be stifled by poor flexibility, poor strength, poor metabolism, etc. as your physique progresses toward looking like an upside-down pear with two toothpicks.
Here are six reasons why you should never, ever, ever skip leg day:
Increased Metabolic Rate
When you do lower body lifts, you are using multiple muscles at one time. This increased muscular involvement requires a greater amount of energy than doing a lift that isolates one muscle group (such as bicep curls). In order to produce more energy, your body must burn more calories, thus increasing your metabolism. Increased metabolism means increased fat burn which leads to increased weight loss.
Compound, multi-joint lower body lifts such as barbell squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. recruit muscles from nearly your entire body (squats and deadlift especially). This means that when you lift heavier weights (which you should do from time to time) your entire body benefits from the increase in strength as a result, not just your legs. You simply cannot get the same physiological response from any upper body lift.
Lower body lifts allow you to lift heavier weight due to the increased muscle recruitment. Lifting heavier weights boots testosterone, the hormone responsible for muscle gain and fat loss. This natural boost is beneficial for men and women alike as testosterone is crucial for muscle recovery, building strength, and burning fat.
Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Because of the aforementioned benefits of lower body lifts, risk of heart disease is greatly reduced. Additionally, increased blood flow in your legs helps prevent blood clots and pooling and the increase in testosterone and metabolic rate will allow your heart to work more efficiently.
Due to the nature of free weight lifts, balance and stabilization is key. Performing lower body lifts regularly will build up core strength and will improve your stability and balance – two things that will certainly come in handy in the backcountry. Even a mainly upper-body move like drawing a bow is made much easier and more efficient with a properly trained base beneath you for improved balance and stability.
Increased Muscular Endurance
Utilizing higher reps and volume techniques when working your legs will increase muscular endurance and your stamina in the backcountry. Your legs are your foundation when carrying a pack so if they are strong and conditioned, you will be able to go much farther than you otherwise could have.
These are just a few of the benefits of training your legs. No matter how much you might not enjoy it, no matter how unsexy it may be to train your legs, come this fall you will be glad that you didn’t skip a leg workout this year.
Never, ever forget…