No one likes leg day. And with good reason. To work your body’s biggest muscles, you need to lift the gym’s biggest weights. Which tends to leave you in a big pile of pain.
Skipping leg day is easy, but unwise – whether you’re on the football pitch or just wearing shorts, strong legs are key to an impressive performance.
Most men treat leg day as a chore to grit your teeth and get through. But with a few tweaks to your workout, and your mindset, you can work your pins without straining your willpower.
Do Legs On Monday
In most gyms, Monday is better known as chest day. It’s understandable to start the week with your favourite muscle group. But it’s also unwise. If your schedule changes or work builds up, you’re liable to sacrifice gym time nearer the weekend. Which normally means skipping legs.
Hitting your lower-body when everyone else is focused on up top also means you’ll have your pick of the kit. So you don’t spend your session queuing for the squat rack.
Double Up For Double The Results
Leg day doesn’t have to mean just legs day. Superset a quad killer with something you enjoy to distract from the burn.
“I like my clients to do walking lunges with a neutral grip shoulder press at the bottom of each step,” says Ben Claypole, director at London gym City Athletic. This increases the time under tension of each lunge, creating a crazy burn in the legs, but the shoulder press takes your mind off it.”
Supplement Your Strength
The worst part of leg day is next day’s battle with stairs. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is that deep pain in the muscles you’ve worked hard. You can’t prevent DOMS entirely, but you can muzzle their bite with branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements: studies show that if you take them before a heavy weights session, you get less pain in the days after.
Massaging sore muscles with a foam roller (£26.59, bodybuilding.com) will hurt at the time, but make sitting down easier tomorrow.
Pump Up The Volume
You can lift more weight with your legs. But that doesn’t mean you have to lift all the weight in the gym.
Work big muscles and you get more of the “byproducts” of exercise, says Leo Savage, PT at The Third Space. Which translates as muscle burning lactic acid, spinning vision and nausea.
Instead, take weight off the bar and work more reps – you’ll get that same ‘pump’ that makes arms day fun – and won’t need to take five minutes rest between sets.
Make Your Workout More Complex
Leg day is no good if you’re pressed for time, since you’re constantly shifting weight plates on and off the bar. But you can get more from less with a “complex”, says Claypole. “Five different movements, back-to-back, without changing the weights or your grip.”
Do six reps each of a hang clean, front squat, shoulder press, back squat and squat jumps, then take a 60-second breather. Repeat six times for more results in next to no time.