Leg workouts are hard, no doubt. Squats, Deadlifts and other leg exercises are physically demanding, and the soreness afterward can be beyond unpleasant. Couple these facts with the general preference for upper-body lifts, and you have a perfect list of excuses for someone to justify skipping leg day.
But it's one of the worst things you can do in your workouts. So in this article, we hope to convince you to never skip leg day.
1. You Will Look Ridiculous
We can all agree the guy in the photo above look silly. He clearly spends most of his time in the gym hammering his chest, arms and shoulders. Maybe he gets some Leg Curls and Extensions in from time to time. But even that is a stretch.
The result is embarrassingly small glutes and quads. You might be able to get away with a skipping a leg workout here and there (not ideal for all the reasons below), but becoming a serial leg-workout skipper will result in your exposure on the Internet, turning you into a goof like the poor soul above.
You've been warned.
2. You Will Neglect 2 of the Big 3 Lifts
The Big 3 lifts are the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. They work the major muscle groups of the body. (We could argue that an upper-body pulling exercise should be added, but that's for another article.)
You should be doing these lifts if your goal is to get stronger, build muscle and even lose weight (more on this below). That's why a vast majority of training programs feature these exercises and their variations. There's no doubting their effectiveness.
Yet, too often the benches in the gym are 100 percent occupied, while the squat racks and areas where it's possible to deadlift are completely vacant. This is very telling about most people's priorities.
3. It's Harder to Build Muscle
The muscles in your hips and legs are the largest in your body. Training these muscles causes a massive release of growth hormone and testosterone, key elements for building muscle.
Assuming you do it correctly, training your lower-body muscles causes them to grow. But it also creates an anabolic environment in your body that can improve the muscle-building effects of your upper-body lifts.
Want to get a thicker torso? Do Deadlifts. Although it's considered a lower-body lift, holding hundreds of pounds is one of the best ways to build your upper back, traps and grip.
The biggest and strongest people train their legs regularly. It's non-negotiable.
4. It Makes It Harder to Burn Fat
Once again, neglecting the largest muscles in your body poses a problem.
Let's say you want to lose weight. You're probably looking for workouts that burn the most calories. The solution: do more lower-body exercises. The largest muscles in your body require the most energy to function, so working your legs will likely increase the amount of calories you burn in a typical workout.
One of the best exercises is the Squat. It's going to work the entire body, and it hits the largest muscles in the body so it burns a lot of calories and you're going to continue to burn more calories after your workout is finished.
You also need to consider that adding muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate—i.e., the number of calories your body burns at rest. So it only makes sense to focus a major part of your workouts on training the largest muscles in your body—the key to effective long-term fat loss.
5. You Will Be More Susceptible to Injury
If you're an athlete, you probably understand the concept that a stronger lower body is more resistant to injury.
But sometimes athletes fall into a trap where they think their sport trains their legs sufficiently. Problem is, most athletic movements overemphasize the quads, creating what's called quad dominance.
One common result of quad dominance? ACL injuries, especially in female athletes.
If your hamstring isn't developed and you're not doing hip work, you're so overdeveloped on the front part of your body and underdeveloped on the backside of your body, it will eventually lead to injury.
That's why it's absolutely essential to regularly do leg work, and, more specifically, to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.