It is not uncommon to walk into a gym, take a quick look around, and be utterly impressed by the physiques of some of the guys that are pumping iron. However, if you feel intimidated, for even a moment, just take a look down. Majority of these guys are going to have legs the size of chickens. The fact is, that leg work is not seen as important, and ultra skinny legs is a common phenomenon in many gyms. The good news is that although it may be a bit dusty, you can be sure that the squat rack is free and ready for you to use. A good leg workout is important. So they may not be the first thing the ladies look at while you are strutting around the beach, but I promise you, for men and women, leg workouts are essential part of your program, and something you should not ignore.
5 Great Reasons To Do Leg Workouts
- Functional: We need our legs, quite often. Whether you are working in a factory, walking the kids, playing sports… you are going to use your legs. Stronger legs mean more functional ability. Leg workouts don’t just help those who need to jump higher and run faster.
- Weight Loss Benefits: This probably should have been number one, because for most people it is the most important point, which they will be missing out on. Legs are a large part of your body. You will burn a whole lot of energy when you are working on your legs and you will get a higher increase in your metabolism. Leg workouts are tougher than upper body. If you want to lose weight, up your leg workout a little and you will be surprised how much it helps you.
- Looks Great: Let’s not beat around the bush. Great looking legs attract attention. They look good and they turn heads. I detest walking into a gym and seeing men who can bench press more than they can squat.Great legs look great on men and women. Don’t miss out on your leg workout.
- Improve Quality of Life: I can promise you that people with stronger legs in their younger years, are going to have stronger legs in their older years. Obviously continuing to go to the gym is the best option, but by getting a base of strength when you are young, you will ensure that you quality of life as you age stays high. You want to be able to walk for as long as you can. If none of the other reasons appeal to you, then this certainly should.
- Performance Enhancement: If you want to run faster, jump higher, or move more weight, then you need to be doing a leg workout. Adjust it to your goals, however without a weight program, you won’t achieve your optimum performance.
Please note that I am not a believer in doing things much differently for men and women. Of course, we are extremely different specimens, but at the end of the day, we both need the same type of training, to achieve the same type of goal. You may not lift as much as the 110kg man next to you (although I have to say being an athlete we upstage quite a few of the very large looking men on the squat rack very easily) but you certainly need to do similar exercises in order to get some growth, tone and condition into our pins.
Some common leg exercises that you can include into your program are, squats, leg press, lunges, step-ups, Swiss ball hamstring curl, dead lifts, calf raises. The fact is that there are so many out there, with so many different variations, these are great, but if you want basic strength, then do the big movements first and work from there. I will work on getting a post up with a whole lot of examples of different leg exercises.
Different Ways To Reach Your Goals
We are all different, we all have different goals, and we are all at different stages in our conditioning. The fact is that you need to approach a leg workout with these things in mind. You may be looking for a beginner leg workout, a power leg workout, or even a bodybuilding leg workout. Each of these will be extremely different, and we will briefly discuss the basis of the different styles of workouts.
If you are a beginner and looking to do a good leg workout, then you need to make sure that you cover all parts of your lower body. You only really need to do 3 sets, around 8-10 repetitions, you should be pushing pretty hard towards the end of the set, and you will get benefits. Three exercises that you can group together that will cover everything you need, and are great for someone just starting out are the squat, the swiss ball hamstring curl, and the lunge. These are three basic exercises that will cover the majority of your legs and really get some strength into them. The squat takes a little time to master but once you have it down pat it is simply one of the most effective exercises you can do for lower body strength and power. I like the Swiss ball hammy curl more for beginners as it teaches and activates the core a little more, really gets your butt into it as well.
If you are looking for a power leg workout, then you will need something a little different. This is a lot more advanced, and you should only do it once you have a good base of strength. What you are looking to do is in a few of the exercises that you do, do them with speed. You commonly see athletes doing Olympic lifts, power cleans and snatches. These are awesome for power, however are complicated to learn. Instead you can simply do similar exercises quickly. A squat jump is a common exercise, and using about 40% of your max, 6-8 times will get you good results. You can also do step up jumps, which we discussed in bum exercises or lunge jumps. The fact is that there are an endless amount of exercises available to you, and most you can simply modify to do them explosively, which will give you awesome power benefits. Compound exercises, which means more than one movement and one joint involved are best for power, as you can generate a lot more force.
If you are looking for a bodybuilding leg workout to build muscle, then it another story all together. Obviously the goal of a body builder is to get larger muscles, and get a leaner body. One of these will take a lot of nutrition work and discipline, but to achieve a body builders figure, you need a much different leg program. In this case you would be looking at doing isolated exercises. Although you will have some compound movements in your program, it is much better if you add more isolated exercises, to target specific muscles that need improvement. Usually you will be looking at doing a high number of repetitions (still with a decent amount of weight), to really fatigue the muscle and stimulate growth. This is in stark contrast to a power objective, where you want to lower the reps, do extremely heavy weights to build the strength, and do lighter weights explosively.
Check out more exercises to do at home.