Everybody tells you that you can’t afford to skip ‘Leg Day’, but do you listen? If you’re serious about achieving your overall fitness goals, you really should!
When it comes to working out, we tend to overlook the importance of our legs, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. They’re not as visually prominent as other areas of the body, so they naturally fall down the pecking order when we come to build muscle and tone up. People can instantly see that you’ve got bulging biceps or a strong set of shoulders, but they won’t necessarily appreciate the definition of your quad muscles (unless they have serious boundary issues).
Nevertheless, skip Leg Day at your peril. As DW’s resident health and fitness expert, Carly Tierney, will discuss, you’ll find it much easier to smash your fitness targets if you have strong foundations to build on. After all, you wouldn’t construct a house on quicksand, would you?
A personal trainer who has a “strong, not skinny” ethos, Carly is a voice of authority when it comes to strength training. In her view, one of the biggest reasons that gym-goers fail to build their legs is that, simply put, they don’t know where to begin.
“There is no doubt that Leg Day is tough. It hurts… A lot! Your legs are your biggest and strongest muscle group so if it's an all-over lean look that you're after, it’s THE body part you cannot afford to miss.
“It can be easy for both guys and girls to miss Leg Day and instead focus on the showier parts of the body such as arms, shoulders and abs. From an aesthetic point of view, having an unbalanced physique looks, well, ridiculous. Hence the term, ‘chicken legs’ that gets bounced around. Girls often want to improve their bum, not realising that Leg Day is essential to achieve a pert butt. The release of hormones promoted when training legs can even help guys to grow their upper body!
“To lose weight, legs are your secret weapon to burning fat. Squats burn more calories than any other exercise. Training your legs will also help to strengthen your knee, hips and ankle joints and help reduce the risk of injury.”
To get you started, we asked Carly to piece together a simple yet effective eight-point plan that enables you to get the most out of Leg Day. Here’s what she came up with…
Before you start
- Warm up
- Walk on an incline on the treadmill for five minutes (incline eight, speed three)
- 45 seconds to one-minute rest between sets/exercises
- Four sets of 10 x squats using the Smith machine. Concentrate on slow, low movements.
The above video gives you an overview of how to use this particular piece of equipment.
- Walking lunges - Holding dumbbell in each hand, walk 10 steps, alternating legs and back for 10 steps.
- Sumo Squat - Legs wide and toes pointing outward, hold a kettlebell in your hand whilst doing them. This targets your bum and inner thighs.
- Narrow leg squat - Using a barbell x 10. Targets front of legs (thighs) and bum.
- Elevated lunges (one foot on box or bench) - Using a dumbbell in each hand x 10 each leg. Targets your bum.
- Good mornings - Using a barbell on your back, lean forwards. You should feel a stretch in the backs of your legs (hamstrings) which remain straight x 10.
- Bridges - Using a barbell resting on your hips x 10. This targets your bum and also works your core.
- Lying side leg raises - 10 each leg x 3 (no weights for this). Targets sides of legs.
Repeat above x 3
So, there you have it. Eight easy-to-follow leg exercises that come directly from an expert. Keen to put these workout ideas into practice? Sign up for a Fitness First Clubs membership today and get cracking on your Leg Day routine straight away!