In the world of fitness, a lollipop body isn’t typically the preferred aesthetic. One can be chiseled from head to waist, but if the lower half is lacking its due attention, everyone will know. At the end of the day, time and effort on the legs will not only show, but will lend greater strength and performance to virtually every facet of your game.
A Quick Breakdown
Any strength and conditioning coach can tell you that your legs are by far the strongest muscle group the body owns. This makes sense given that the leg muscles are some of the most frequently utilized. Our legs are required to support the weight of our bodies and propel us into motion for extended periods of time. Imagine walking on your hands for more than 5 minutes? Our upper body simply isn’t built for that kind of load.
When it comes to moving weight with the legs (squats), advanced athletes should work towards lifting loads at least 2 times greater than their body weight. Elite athletes should strive for 2.5 times or more.
Benefits of Working the Legs
First of all, there is a difference between engaging the legs during cardio and building them up through strength training. While the former can offer an effective workout, the body benefits tremendously from increased lower body muscle mass and strength. This is most effectively achieved by lifting weights.
Building up the legs through consistent, dedicated strength training provides the following benefits:
- Greater calorie burn. The muscles recruited when lifting legs are large and heavy. This means that a single weighted squat will require significantly more energy than most any upper body lift. In addition, more mass in the legs means more calories burned when at rest.
- Increased release of growth hormones. When training the lower body, more testosterone and growth hormone are released than when training other, smaller muscle groups. This helps boost both muscle gain and the metabolism.
- Keeps the body balanced. As the old saying goes, “a structure is only as strong as its foundation.” Well, the legs are the foundation of the body— the primary contact point between us and the ground. We want to make sure that mass is distributed properly.
- Improves performance. The lower body is the source of power in most non-isolated athletic movements. Stronger legs will benefit performance all-around.
- Builds strength in other areas. Lower body strength training helps build muscles that aren’t adequately engaged when executing many cardio movements. This includes muscles in the core and hips.
Best Exercises for Strength and Mass
If you could only choose three exercises for lower body strength gain, the decision should be clear and simple.
- Barbell Squats (front and back)
With just these three movements, an effective full-body workout can be achieved. Whether you work with a personal trainer, a strength and conditioning coach, or write your own workouts, make sure you incorporate squats, deadlifts, and lunges, weekly.
Everyone Could Use a Push
Have trouble hitting leg day? Not finding the love for a good squat? We can help with that. To perform at a high level, you can’t dodge a solid weekly or bi-weekly leg lift. Our team of experts at Performance One knows exactly what workouts you need for your sport and will help you reach goals you never thought you could. Come work out with some of the best personal trainers and coaches in the nation.
And always remember— never skip a leg day.