Every gym I’ve ever walked into, I’ve seen most guys working hard on their upper body, while neglecting or just going through the motions when it comes to their legs.
It may sound funny but there are a whole bunch of buff guys walking around with their chests sticking out, who look like they would be more comfortable walking on their hands rather than the skinny muscle-free sticks they call legs.
Let’s face it, squatting takes much more out of anyone than doing bicep curls or the beloved bench press.
But focusing on the upper body and skipping leg training is a very bad idea for many reasons.
For starters, your legs make up around 50 per cent of your total muscle mass. If you want to increase your overall body mass, it will be a whole lot easier if you add some muscle to your legs and ‘glutes,’ as well as your upper body.
Secondly, consider just about every physically demanding task you might face during the day. From running after a bus, or getting out of a vehicle, to just getting off the toilet. Almost every time you need to get something challenging done, it’s your legs that have to step up and deliver.
Well-developed legs are also important for fat burning and weight control. Muscle is metabolically active which just means that it needs energy to sustain it. More muscle means an increased calorie requirement and that makes for easier fat loss.
Leg training is closely associated with producing a cascade of anabolic hormones throughout your body which have a systemic rather than just a local effect. In other words, leg training makes your entire body grow.
Bodybuilder Tom Platz, owner of arguably the best legs in bodybuilding, often said that anytime he wanted to add mass to his arms, chest or whatever, his first strategy was increasing his squat. Platz knew that increasing his leg size was the key to triggering growth all around his body!
Then, think about sports. There are very few sports where the legs do not play an important part. Any sport that involves running, jumping, or kicking is a given but even seemingly upper body dominant sports like boxing and tennis require good leg strength.
The main reason leg training is unpopular with so many exercisers is that it’s really hard work. There is no such thing as an easy productive leg workout. Such big muscles and potentially heavy loads demand a huge amount of oxygen and produce lots of muscle-searing metabolites. There is no way you’ll be able to talk to your buddies after a set of heavy squats. Trust me I know.
So, what is the solution? Simple – stop treating your legs like some second-class citizen and put leg training on the top of your to-do list. You don’t have to go super-heavy or ultra-hard initially; just start training your legs and stop ignoring them.
In reality, jumping straight into heavy leg training 3 times a week probably won’t do you any good as if you are unaccustomed to working your legs in the first place.
Instead, start off by doing three light sets of six to ten squats at the beginning of every workout to get your body used to squatting on a regular basis. Slowly but surely, increase the weight of your squats until you are beginning to labour a little to complete your reps.
At this point, and keeping the set and rep count constant, reduce the weight by around 30 per cent on your first and last squat workout of the week. Continue adding weight during all three workouts but now you have two easy and one tough workout per week.
Leg training should be the cornerstone of virtually everybody’s training. Even if muscle mass isn’t your thing and you are more interested in general fitness, toning or fat loss, working your legs with determination and vigour will pay off big for the rest of your body. Work your legs like you mean it and see your fitness, strength and sports performance soar.
Stay tuned, friends. If you need help on building muscle or losing body fat, shoot me an email: emmersoncampbell@ gmail.com