By Miguel J. Ortiz
Leg work or training is a big component in helping build muscle – even though its commonly neglected. Now, of course, we all have different goals. In order to simplify, let’s concentrate on general strength training. If your goal is to increase muscle then you should also increase your training regimen. From a functional standpoint, training legs is ideal for many reasons. It assists in proper posture, picking up heavy household items and developing stronger core muscles. Let’s take a look at three best ways to incorporate more leg exercises into your routine to ensure we keep your body feeling good and fully functional.
First, just doing cardio and calling that strength training legs won’t cut it. You will still need to incorporate strength routines. It may not be a heavy weight, but there should a leg segment to every athelte’s program. So, please at least follow this one tip regardless. Being able to perform the leg exercise movement without any weight is crucial for keeping good form and preventing injury. It will also assist in providing better muscle memory which will be necessary if you decide to challenge yourself in the future. Having a good range of motion and understanding how exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges and single leg stepups affect the joints will not prevent pain and build lean muscle. Remember, form always comes first.
Second, build up your strength endurance before trying to pack on weight with max strength. Doing exercises weighted (or not) up to 12-20 reps or combining them with other leg exercises will increase the muscles time under tension. The additional muscular utilization will help build lean muscle mass. And, since the legs are a large muscle group, you should never skip leg day, but at minimum I work legs in some fashion at least twice per week. Twice a week in addition to cardio work. So, spread your routine out leaving at least 1-2 days between leg days. Maybe try working posterior one day and anterior the other, there are plenty of variations.
Third, make time for recovery. This is huge and should not be taken lightly. Your recovery is extremely critical as tight muscles and joints will lead to muscular imbalances. It can lead to poor posture as well as more pain. And, if we’re getting a workout, we want a reward. We want to look and feel better. Feeling worse wasn’t in the plan, but it’s definitely a part of the fitness journey. If you struggle with stretching, try massage, stretching classes, cryo therapy, yoga or Pilates. These are all great ways to balance out the body and keep pushing forward to crush goals. Recovery is necessary, so don’t leave it out of the playbook.
Have fun adding more leg routines into your weekly workouts and never skip leg day!
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.