“I hate squats”
“I don’t want to get sore”
“My (hip, knee, back, etc.) hurts when I do legs”
“I play basketball once a week, that’s enough work for my legs”
I get it. Very few people actually enjoy working out, let alone doing hard leg training.* Unfortunately, skipping out on leg day is a pretty bad idea for a number of reasons, some of which are pretty obvious and some maybe not so well known.
*By leg training, I mean resistance training. Lifting weights, certain bodyweight exercises, or dragging a weighted sled would apply. Going for a jog, spin class, or zumba-lates would not.
The Obvious (Hopefully) Reasons To Not Skip Leg Day
- You will end up looking ridiculous
- You will end up getting hurt. Knee and lower back injuries alone affect millions of people each year, and if you don’t think that smart, properly performed lower body training could prevent many of them, then I don’t know what to tell you….(you’re wrong!)
- You will get better at just about every single activity imaginable. Even the ones where you don’t think you need really strong legs. I mean look below, we’ve got golfers doing their squats and lunges now
The Not So Obvious Reasons
- You will get in great cardiovascular shape. If you don’t believe me, do a set of 20 rep squats. I’m willing to bet anything that will have you more winded than your usual jog around the neighborhood.
- You will lose body fat. Everywhere. Not just on your legs.
- You will get stronger. Everywhere. Not just your legs.
The reason for the last two is that hard lower body training (especially exercises like heavy squats and deadlifts) produce a massive, natural growth hormone and testosterone response. Both obviously have positive effects on body composition and strength.
So, when endless sit-ups and bench presses don’t give you the six pack and big chest you’re looking for, it might be time to mix in some deadlifts.
But I Still Hate Squats!
And I still don’t want to get sore! And my (insert body part here) still hurts!
Fine. You don’t have to squat, or deadlift, or do lunges. The fact is there are hundreds of different exercises that more or less do the same thing – they aren’t all as effective, but it’s better than nothing.
Below (or in Part 2) I’m going to give you three different leg workouts from the bare minimum you should be doing, to one that pretty much covers all your bases, to one that is probably a bit excessive, and awful, and awesome.
#1 The Minimum
Do 4-5 sets of each of these exercises at least once a week, both on the same day or spread them out. Doesn’t matter. Try to gradually increase the weight over time.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The benefits of a squat and a deadlift, easier to learn, and a fairly low risk of injury. You can’t go wrong with this exercise. (I’m using a band in this particular video. Nice for variety but not necessary)
Heavy Sled Push
Without a doubt, one of the most effective conditioning exercises I’ve ever used. Strong legs + Strong lungs = Badass
In Part 2 I’ll give you 2 more leg workouts, both of which are a little more intense than this one.