“He clearly skips leg day.” We’ve all heard the joke at least once about someone who prefers bicep curls to squats. But is there some truth behind the importance of leg day? Indeed, there is. Leg day means that:
- You’ll burn more calories.
- Your upper and lower body won’t be disproportionate.
- You’ll be less susceptible to injury.
- You’ll have more strength.
- You’ll get better overall results.
- You’ll reduce lower back pain.
- You’ll increase your core strength.
Having a well-rounded workout program is about more than aesthetics. It’s also about keeping you healthy and strong from head to toe. So, leg day should make its way into your workouts on a weekly basis.
Keep scrolling to learn why leg day is more important than you might think.
What Is Leg Day?
You probably already guessed this one. Leg day is/are the day(s) of the week when people exercise their legs. It’s a term used by weightlifters, bodybuilders, and other athletes to denote their lower-body programming. For many people, leg day is the hardest and most grueling workout of the week. This is because your legs are stronger than your arms, so you can typically lift much more weight with your lower body than you can with your upper body
When we hear “leg day,” many of our minds immediately go to squatting. And indeed, this is a solid choice! However, leg day can also mean:
- Bulgarian split squats
- Leg presses
- Hip bridges
And the list goes on and on.
Why You Should Exercise Your Legs
Is it really that big of a deal to focus most of your time on upper-body exercises? Yes! You should never skip leg day, and here’s why.
1. You’ll Burn More Calories
Let’s be clear: Everyone burns calories at different rates. And there are a number of variables that influence how your body uses fuel, including genetics, medication, lifestyle habits, and other environmental factors.
However, as we mentioned, you can generally move heavier loads with your legs compared to other body parts, meaning you’re likely to burn more calories during a leg workout. Additionally, leg workouts often involve larger muscle groups, which also helps boost your calorie burn. Think of your posterior chain, which comprises the muscles along the entire back side of your body. There are lower-body exercises that can target this entire stretch of tissue. Pretty cool, right?
In other words, leg workouts are frequently compound exercises, which means that you’re training multiple muscles or muscle groups at one time. You get bigger bang for your buck, and that translates to a bigger calorie burn. Yes, the old adage is true: Muscle burns more calories than fat
. To be precise, at rest, a pound of muscle tissue burns about six calories, while a pound of fat burns two to three calories.
2. Your Upper and Lower Body Won’t Be Disproportionate
We don’t want to mislead you here. If you skip leg day, it’s not like your upper body will be enormous and your legs will look like pencils. However, when an athlete trains only their upper body muscles and never their legs, you can tell. There’s less muscle mass and definition, and the upper and lower halves just don’t match.
We’re going to guess that in addition to getting fitter, you’d like to make progress with your body composition
. If that’s the case, then you need leg days.
3. You’ll Be Less Susceptible To Injury
On leg day, you (1) build strength and (2) improve mobility
. Both are important in preventing injury. Strong muscles and bones mean that you have a more stable foundation. Leg day will build some of the biggest muscles in your body, along with your entire posterior chain.
Mobility matters, too! In fact, many injuries come down to poor mobility, plain and simple. Do you have a friend who threw their back out tying their shoes? Or someone who sits at a desk all day and suffers from hip and lower back pain (more on this in a moment) and tightness? That’s mobility — or rather, immobility.
Now, imagine a fitness regimen that doesn’t strengthen or increase mobility in your legs. That’s a recipe for disaster. It’s like building a house on mud.
4. You’ll Have More Strength
, when done properly, creates tiny tears (called microtears
) in your muscles. When these tears heal, the muscle tissue grows back thicker. This is why strength training helps your muscles grow!
The benefits are compounding, too. If you squat on leg day, you won’t get better only at squatting. This is going to translate to other things you do in the gym, like deadlifts, lunges, and box jumps. You might even be able to climb a flight of stairs a little faster since your legs won’t fatigue as quickly.
5. You’ll Get Better Overall Results
In reality, many leg exercises are truly full-body exercises. Front
and back squats challenge your legs, hips, glutes, core, and (to a degree) even your back, shoulders, and arms.
Plus, they pack a big punch. Leg day exercises will help you build strength, yes. But they’ll also teach you to improve your power output and explosiveness. They’ll improve your mobility. And they can even help improve endurance.
Leg day is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s not just about growing bigger quads, although that’s certainly one of the benefits. You’ll reap the benefits of leg day in multiple ways.
6. You’ll Reduce Lower Back Pain
We mentioned earlier that stronger legs can mean diminished back pain, and science backs it up. In fact, one study in Singapore
looked at recreational runners and found that resistance training using the leg muscles was an effective way to reduce lower back pain. Orthopedic experts add that stronger legs can improve spinal health
Remember, too, how mobility factors into all of these. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, then your hip flexors are probably struggling. Thanks to the constant sitting position, these tiny muscles become tight and weak. When you stand, those same muscles are stretched and strained beyond what they want to do. This often ends up translating to lower back pain.
About four out of five people
experience lower back pain at some point, and it’s the most common reason for visiting the doctor. Leg day helps to combat all of this. Sitting less is a great place to start, and training your legs during your workouts will encourage progress even more.
7. You’ll Increase Your Core Strength
“What does core have to do with leg day?” you might be asking, and we get it. Perhaps surprisingly, many leg/lower-body exercises demand core strength. Think about your standard back squat. Yes, it targets your legs. This is how you’re able to squat and stand up again.
However, how do you think you’re able to support the weight of the barbell on your back? How do you think you’re able to keep your chest up without falling out? That’s your core!
The same can be said for other lower-body exercises, like lunges.
Getting Started With Tempo
Ready to start incorporating leg day into your weekly training? Tempo can help! We offer two ways to train. Tempo Studio
is our most robust and powerful all-in-one solution to getting fitter. Tempo Move
is designed to fit anywhere, whether you’re training from a loft in NYC or a tiny home in Montana.
We’re with you every step of the way, too. Our 3D Tempo Vision means that we’re always checking your form and offering real-time feedback on how you can improve. Tempo helps you track your progress, makes suggestions for what weights and reps you should follow, and even customizes your training
based on your goals.
Looking to build muscle mass in your glutes and legs? Want to squat more and get more definition? Train with Tempo, grab your weights, and follow along through our expert-guided workouts
. Tempo is more than a smart home gym system. It’s a personal trainer, accountability partner, and private cheerleader for all your health and fitness goals. Shop now.