Skipping leg day is so common it almost comes off as a joke when someone mentions it. But there are so many people hitting the gym, trying to lose weight or build muscle, that ignore the fact that there’s a whole other half of their body below the waist that requires the same amount of attention when you’re working towards your fitness goals. It’s comical when you’re at the gym and you see someone lifting heavy weights until their arms look like they’re going to burst, but then they have twigs for legs that seem like they’ll snap under the tiniest bit of pressure.
Not only does it look a little funny, but it’s also unhealthy. Keeping your legs strong is important for the most basic of tasks - walking, standing, and balance for instance. But keeping your legs in shape also helps you burn calories faster, strengthen your bones, alleviate joint pain, and it supports heart health.
So what are we trying to say here? Don’t skip leg day!
Here are some leg exercises to help you get the most out of your workout, that require nothing more than a simple barbell:
There are many types of squats and each type has many variations. The front squat will work your quads while the back squat will primarily focus on your hamstrings and glutes. You’ll need a barbell for this, weights are optional.
Front Squat: Lay the barbell on the front of your shoulders while wrapping your fingers around it in an underhand grip. Hold your elbows up and stare straight ahead. In this position you’ll sit back on your hips, bend your knees, and drop down towards the floor without leaning forward. Go down as far as you can and back up to your starting position.
Back Squat: Hold the barbell on the top of your back behind your neck, and keep your feet aligned with your shoulders. Stare straight ahead pointing your toes out just slightly. Once in position, sit back on your hips and drop down as far as you can, then push back up to your starting position.
With a name like Romanian Deadlift, this workout sounds quite intimidating. But this is a great exercise to work your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hips. And despite the name, it’s easier than its moniker implies.
Hold your barbell in front of you with your arms down, keeping your back straight and staring ahead. Lean forward, using your hips, lowering the barbell (dumbbells and weights are optional) towards the floor, bending your knees slightly. Once you feel it in your hamstrings, pause, then move your hips forward and back up into starting position - you’ll feel this upwards movement in your glutes.
Similar to squats, there are many variations on the lunge. But let’s go with a fairly common one - the walking lunge. These will work your hamstrings, quads, and glutes, while testing your balance.
Stand up straight with your feet pressed together and your hands on your hips - or you can hold dumbbells to make it more challenging. Stare straight ahead and take a step (or a lunge!) forward with your right leg and when your foot hits the ground your thigh should be parallel to the floor. Push up, using your right heel, until you’re back in your starting position, and repeat the same movement with your left leg.
These exercises are an excellent start to getting your legs in great shape. There are so many variations on these that you can seriously spend hours researching them. We hope these are helpful and we hope you never skip leg day again.
And please keep in mind that it is always best to consult a medical professional before starting any new workout routine or diet.