Get Physical: Here are the Benefits of a Leg Workout & Tips to Get You Started
by Lou-Ann Jordan Aug 1, 2022
The fitness industry is booming.
Globally, more people are hitting the weight loss centres or the gym to sculpt their bodies. Gyms have a constant flow as people grunt their way to rock-hard abs and superhero biceps.
For many people, a common practice is to assign certain days for working on specific body parts. Mondays and Wednesdays are bicep blowout days, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are core crushing days. Then there’s leg day. The jury is out on this one because some love it and others don’t.
The fact is that leg workouts require more effort, and the results are not as quickly visible. However, there are significant benefits to not neglecting this part of your exercise. Though challenging, it is worth it if you’re trying to sculpt that perfectly symmetrical body.
However, leg exercise shouldn’t be limited to merely providing toned legs. Exercises like deadlifts, lunges, and squats equally require remarkable physical, mental and endurance.
To help you get started, we reached out to fitness trainer Nigel Layne. Here, Nigel reminds us of the benefits and suggests five leg exercises to get you started.
As a bonus, and because we understand we may be ‘speaking to the converted, we’ve added five routines for those wanting to “up” their leg work.
We know you’re excited to get started, but let’s chat briefly about the benefits:
Five benefits of a leg workout routine
- Build more muscle – One of the main reasons you go to the gym is to build muscle. Well, doing regular leg workouts makes gaining total body muscle mass easier.
- Burn more calories – The more muscles and joints you utilise during your workout, the more calories are burned. Furthermore, large muscles like the leg aid in having greater calorie burn during your workout. Also, here’s a pro tip: you will burn five calories for every pound of muscle you gain.
- Increase testosterone levels – Testosterone is produced and released during resistance training. The muscle mass and the intensity of the workout affect the quantity of testosterone released. Why is an increased testosterone level crucial? Well, a reduced level causes low libido, depression and decreased muscle size and strength.
- Strengthen core muscles – It’s not uncommon to use several muscles for some exercises. For example, when doing single-straight-leg deadlifts, while primarily you’re working your leg, your core, lower and upper body muscles also play their part. BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., creator of Bodyweight Cardio Burners notes that: “while your leg muscles are doing most of the heavy lifting, they get a break when you switch sides. However, your core and upper body must keep working hard to stabilise your body as you perform rep after rep.”
- Boosts Metabolism – Building mass increases your metabolism making your legs, the body’s largest muscle group, the perfect place to work out.
Here are Nigel’s recommendations for people who are new to exercising. For the gym newbie, he suggests:
Front squats – place yourself under the bar, ensuring it’s positioned securely on your chest. Grasp the barbell firmly with elbows up. Be sure your feet are evenly spaced at shoulder width. Lift the bar keeping your core tight. Slowly lower into a squat with hip and knees bent—like you’re about to sit in a chair. When squatting, ensure your thighs are parallel to the ground—keeping your elbows and chest up. Push up into a standing position. Remember to keep your abs tight and back straight during the reps.
Barbell lunges – Setting appropriate weight resistance and grip the barbell. Lift the barbell from the rack, squeeze your shoulder blades and place it on your muscle, not the spine. Be sure to keep your chest up and out. Tightening your core, step forward with one leg and lower your hip until both legs are at a 90˚ angle. Don’t let your front knee push past your ankle, and be sure your other knee doesn’t touch the ground.
Hack squats – Position yourself on the machine and lie back against the back pad. Place your legs squarely on the platform maintaining shoulder width. Holding the safety bars firmly, disengage them. With legs straight but knees unlocked, lower the unit by bending your knees. Lower until your thighs are at 90˚.
One-legged curls – Select the appropriate weight, and adjust the machine to your height. Lie flat on the device, with the padded bar resting lightly a little below your calves. Grasp the handlebars with both hands, maintaining a flat torso on the bench. As you slowly curl your legs, inhale. Curl your legs as much as possible, ensuring your body retains contact with the pad. Hold for a second, then uncurl your legs, exhaling as it straightens. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Seated calf raises (machine) – First, select the appropriate weights. Next, sit at the machine, placing your feet on the platform. Position your lower quads under the knee pads and grasp the handles. Raise your heel until you’re on the tips of your toes. This motion will release the safety lever. In this position, slowly lower your heel, stretching your calves. Repeat by raising your heel as high as your ankle can extend, hold for a second, and then lower. Be sure to exhale as you tauten your calf.
Additionally, for our pals who know the value of leg day but want to increase the intensity of the workout, you can do the following:
- Leg extensions.
- Walking lunges.
- Jump squats.
- Romanian deadlifts.
- Standing calf raises.
Hoorah! It’s all you need to get those legs ripped and enjoy your next leg day.
Are you thinking of signing up for the gym? Search Find Yello listings to find a gym near you.
Sources: Men’s Health, Muscle and Strength and Body Image Health Club.