More guys hitting the gym is a great thing. We all know exercise is good for long term health, but it also doesn’t hurt that spending time lifting weights and doing cardio plus eating sensibly is a trio that leads to another positive side effect: looking good with and without your clothes on!
But in pursuit of looking buffer than average man, most guys tend to focus on the usually visible muscles, aka the upper body. They will do countless crunches, bicep curls, and bench presses. How about the legs? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Just ask Tyson Chandler
It’s totally understandable why men tend to avoid doing leg exercises. For one, you tend to be in a bit of pain a day or two after doing leg exercises once delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) kicks in. It can be difficult to sit down, stand up, and for some, even walk.
The reason that happens, especially for beginners is because you’re tapping the body’s biggest muscle group. Your legs are composed of different muscles in your quads, butt, hamstrings, calves, down to your ankles. And if you don’t hit these muscles often, you will feel it once you start working them out.
Skipping leg day at the gym makes you miss out on the benefits, too. Since your legs compose the body’s biggest group of muscles, hitting them in workouts helps increase the body’s metabolism—leading to your body to torch fat faster. Unless you really have low body fat, hitting your muscles often will help you make your abs pop.
Also, our legs take the brunt of our weight as we walk, run, jump, and stand. Think of it as the body’s foundation and if you’re standing with a weak base, you’re more likely to suffer injuries if you play a sport. Heck, even if you don’t, weak leg muscles account for a lot of non-contact knee and ankle injuries, too.
Aesthetically, a big and chiseled upper body on a base of twigs just doesn’t look good. So doing leg exercises makes your physique look more balanced.
If you’re not sure how you can start doing strength exercises for your legs here are three things you need to remember:
Pick standing and free weight exercises
Doing leg exercises on machines doesn’t help target the full range of motion of the legs. You’ll benefit more doing exercises with free weights as you’re able to build both stability and strength while also moving your legs in their supposed range of motion.
Start with your personal capacity
Don’t lift heavy or go lower than what you’re capable of with exercises right away. As individuals, we have certain limitations in both strength and flexibility. Go with a weight that’s comfortable for you and only go with what your range of motion allows. As you progress, you’ll be able to use heavier resistance and go lower on those exercises.
Hit your legs at different angles
We move in a 3D plane, so you need to do workouts that make you move your legs in different directions, too. This will hit not just the bigger leg muscles, but also smaller stabilizers that don’t often get targeted. Here’s a basic workout you can try the next time your schedule says leg day.
The FHM Leg Day Workout
Directions: After a thorough warm up. Do each exercise for the number of reps given. Rest 60 to 90 seconds before doing the next set. Finish all three sets before moving on to the next exercise.
Goblet Squats – 10 reps, 3 sets
Side Step-ups – 10 reps per side, sets
Dumbbell Deadlifts -10 reps, sets
If you can’t do a rep properly when carrying weights, you can switch to bodyweight versions of the first two moves while lifting lighter weights for the deadlifts.
Here are videos of how to do each move:
Why it’s good: Because you’re holding the weight in front, you immediately engage your core to keep yourself upright and it’s hard to do the form wrong, too. It also helps you hit the full range of motion of the legs.
Why it’s good: If you don’t have the flexibility to do side lunges, this exercise is a good regression, while still hitting the necessary leg muscles.
Why it’s good: It effectively targets the muscles at the back of your legs while engaging your core with each rep.