Five Leg Day Hacks
If you walk into any gym and ask random people about their favorite training day, you’ll get answers that are all over the place. But if you ask them about their least favorite day?
Nine times out of ten, it’ll be leg day.
Leg day has an infamous reputation, and the mere mention of it instills fear into the hearts of most fitness lovers. The truth is that it should: your lower body is made up of so many big muscles that leg workouts often feel more like full body workouts. Plus, lower body workouts keep on giving even after you’re done – good luck sitting on the toilet the next day!
Seriously, it has it’s own memes. It has its own language. Leg day is a beast we want to help you break and own.
While we can’t make leg day any easier for you, we can supply you with a few leg day hacks that will help you get the most out of your agony.
1. Use One Leg
Where do one-leggers work? IHOP.
If you laughed, you don’t have a soul. Just kidding, but that politically incorrect joke is a segue way into what you should be doing. Standing on one leg.
Single leg exercises hurt big time – they require twice the work, after all – but they’re great for training balance and reducing strength differences between sides.
You’re probably familiar with two single leg staples: forward lunges and reverse lunges. Both work well for beginners, but there’s plenty of room to grow. When you’re ready for tougher moves, ramp up the hurt factor with Bulgarian split squats, TRX suspended lateral lunges, and skater hops.
If the thought of jumping rope makes you dry heave so hard you just hit your head on the keyboard, here is a little motivation for you. Yeah, that’s right–Van Halen’s JUMP. Turn it up while we school you on jumping benefits.
It’s common to associate jumping with athletics, and that makes it easy for people to write it off as too advanced or not in line with their goals. We don’t want you to make that mistake.
Jumps build explosive power, improve total body coordination, and boost lower body strength. Jumping newbies can start with pogo hops and TRX squat jumps, while the more advanced crowd can head straight into box jump and lunge jump territory.
*Might as well JUMP! GO AHEAD AND JUMP!*
3. Vary Your Leg Day Exercises
Don’t put all your legs in one basket. Hee hee.
You’re on the right track if your leg day includes squats and deadlifts, but don’t let yourself get too comfortable with the basics.
We all know and love the traditional back squat and conventional deadlift, but they can only take you so far. Spice up your squats by rotating in front squats, box squats, and goblet squats. For your deadlifts, try doing them with a sumo stance, a wide snatch grip, or from an elevated position. Varying your exercises keeps your body on its toes so your sweat is worth it.
Type A personality? STOP IT. Chill for a sec.
Add even a single second pause to any exercise and you’ll crank the difficulty up from tough to absolutely brutal. Add even longer pauses to leg day exercises and you might just spend the next few days crying.
But trust us – it’ll be worth it. Pausing increases time under tension, which means more suffering for you but also more work for your muscles, and it teaches you how to explode out of weak positions.
Mix Rep Ranges on Leg Day
Low and heavy or light and high? The fitness world has gone through a phase shift of sorts over the last few years. Coaches and trainers tend to push max strength development above all else. Get as strong as an ox by all means, but don’t spend all your time working with low reps.
Exercises like calf raises and step-ups are perfect candidates for higher rep ranges, so start there. High reps will break up the monotony, build strength and endurance.
If you’re the masochistic type – seriously, this one is pure torture –try the occasional 20-rep squat set. Just remember to breathe or you’ll be catching the gym floor with your face.
With these leg day hacks, you’re going to be well on your way to building crazy size and strength across your entire lower body in no time. It’s still going to be painful, but it’s totally worth the reward. Need help with recovery? You know we can help you with that here.
Now post your favorite leg day meme, tear up leg day and own it.