Leg day; the world’s most hated gym day. Most people would rather swallow a tarantula than do leg day and this is a point of concern. For the perfect physique, your legs should be developed with the same intensity and dedication that you reserve for a bench press. In fact, what most people do not know is that by improving the strength in your legs, you could make certain exercise routines, like the deadlift for instance, better and safer for you. You will also have better balance, which in turn helps you prevent injury when performing high intensity exercises.
The reason people dislike keg day is actually very simple; leg exercises are relatively tasking in comparison to other parts of the body. You also have a bunch of compound muscles which control different functions. The quads for instance control the extension of the leg from the hip flexor and alone, contain 3 major muscles the Rectus Femoris, the Vastus Laterallis, and the Vastus Mediallis. The hamstrings in the other hand has 4 major muscle groupings while the calves have two. Hitting all these muscles requires a well formulated routine with a range of both compound and targeted exercises, which leaves you drained but feeling great at the end.
Why does it take so long to work?
Leg exercises are designed to force your legs to grow. Your legs on the other hand will try as much as they can to resist this forced growth, and this is why they shake and burn during exercises. Moreover, since there are a lot of muscles involved, you will have to use a lot of weight, using many angles, and using different routines, over many different rep ranges, in order for any sort of noticeable change to occur. This will also take quite some time, so it is important that you are patient and trust in the process.
Wat do you need to do?
Another factor that tend to get overlooked is the diet. You need to realise that you are forcing muscles to grow, and that will in turn require a certain shift in your nutrition. You will need to increase your intake of certain nutrients such as protein. For the best results, you will also need to add other supplements to your diet in order to stimulate faster organic growth in a healthy way. The first thing you should look add to your daily nutrition is protein. Your diet should include more animal and plant protein such as beans, milk, eggs, and meat. You can supplement your protein intake with whey protein from well-known and trusted brands such as Gold Standard whey.
With regard to nutrition, you should also look for supplements that have caffeine, creatine and amino acids in them. The ATP created by the creatine will help you hit the weights for longer, since it is responsible for the muscles twitching with power. BCAA (Branched amino acids) help with the formation of nitric acid, which helps maintain blood flow to the muscles. Amino acids also help in controlling the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, which is the substance that causes the post workout soreness.
Some of the exercises
Setting up a workout routine for your legs is done on a person to person basis, since everyone has different goals for the gym and different body types when it comes to nutrition. However, there are certain elements of a leg workout that are recommended and these are split according to the muscle group that benefits the most.
- Quads: The most notable exercise for the quadriceps muscles is the barbell squat. This should be in every work out plan out there under leg day. It is included in every beginner’s schedule, and all you have to do as your strength increases is add weight. Other quad exercises should include leg extensions which work on the teardrop muscle and the barbell hack squats which are great for the quad sweep group of muscles.
- Hamstrings: This group of muscles is built purely on lunges and curls. This where barbell lunges excel. A barbell lunge begins with the weight on your shoulders, after which you go into a lunge. Make sure you use a squat rack to increase your safety. You should also make sure you maintain proper form to reduce chances of a hamstring strain or injury to your shoulders and back. Other exercises include lying leg curls and seated leg curls.
- Calves: with calves, the routine is quite simple; stick to calf raises. The standing calf raises work on the Gastrocnemius, which is diamond shaped muscle at the back of the lower leg that people mistakenly refer to as the calf. Seated calf raises on the other hand work on the Soleus, which is the back part of your lower leg that extends from below the knee all the way to your heel.