Leg day should be incorporated into your weekly routine as often as possible. Whether by way of cardio, think sprints or speed walking on an incline, or by way of exercises incorporating free weights or body weight, you should try to devote some time to building the strength in your lower half. Your quads, hamstrings, and glutes are extremely important muscle groups that affect everything you do in life – walk, jump, sit, you name it. By keeping these core muscle groups healthy, fit, and injury free you can positively impact your over all physique and ability to do every day things. How often you incorporate a leg routine into your fitness journey is up to you, but if you’re asking me, then I would say to try and focus on your bottom half at least twice a week.
The good news is that there are multiple exercises you can utilize to help grow in both strength and size. There are lunges, squats, leg press, leg curls, and the list goes on and on. Depending on which muscle you are focusing on, you can change up the routine you follow. For your glutes, try either weighted kick backs (as seen above) or squats (either done with/without weights or for a timed sequence). By building your glutes you will help to shape and lift your butt, which we all know is a good thing! Leg lunges, the stair master and squats can be used in a multitude of ways to condition your legs. 4 sets of 12 reps, 4 sets of 2 minute sessions, or alternating fast and slow cardio reps on the stair master are easy ways to vary your exercises and ability to hone in on your legs.
Another good thing about leg day is your ability to kill two birds with one stone: cardio AND weight training. HIIT exercises (High Intensity Interval Training) is a wonderful way to get your cardio and weight lifting in. Take squat jumps (as seen above) this mix of cardio and body weight training allows you to quickly feel the burn and get your heart rate up, while at the same time, allowing you to chisel your legs into summer ready limbs. You not only work your glutes, but you also engage your hamstrings, quads, and calves all in one simple movement. If your knees or hips are bad, then simply squat without the jump at the end and you will still engage all the main muscle groups. For a quick burn, try doing three sets of two minute squat jumps (or just squats) followed by walking lunges for an added sweat session. Build up your intensity and stamina slowly so as to not injure yourself. When you have found these exercises to be easy, feel free to either add time to your set or increase your set count. If you’re feeling extra strong, add weight to your squats by placing a barbell on your back, lying right across your shoulders.
For those of you looking for a complete leg day routine, try your hand at the following (for weights, please use what is comfortable for yourself, and if anything is too hard or too intense, simply decrease the amount done or the time endured):
4 sets of 1 minute squat jumps (90 second rest) (with or without jumps)
4 sets of 20 glute kick backs (weight of your choice)
4 sets of 1 minute walking lunges (90 second rest) (with or without weight)
20 minute Stair Master (level 8 for 2 minutes, level 4 for 1 minute)