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The Importance Of Training Your Legs!

What To Know About Your Body’s Biggest Muscle Group

Posted by JoeHurricane - February 3rd, 2015

Legs. They could very well be one of the most disliked muscle groups in the entire body. People just love to hate working out their legs. If chest day is globally acknowledged as the most anticipated workout day of the week, then legs are the most dreaded. We've all heard the endless jokes, and if we ourselves don't skip leg day, we probably know someone who does. Training your legs shouldn't really be dreaded should it...it should be something you look forward to. Personally, I have NEVER skipped a leg workout just because I decided I didn't need to train them. Legs shouldn't be like the girl who doesn't get to go to prom because nobody likes her. Legs should be the star of the show, and get all the attention. Here's why.


What Muscles Are Involved In The Legs?

The legs are made up of at least six notable muscles – quadriceps (front leg), gluteus maximus (butt), hamstrings (back leg), calves (back leg), adductors (inside thigh) and abductors (hips). Most of those individual muscles can be broken down into even smaller categories, as each big muscle is made up of at least two or three smaller muscles.

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How Does Leg Training Affect My CNS (Central Nervous System)?

Put simply, your CNS is what controls your muscles. It is made up particularly by the connection between your brain and spinal cord. Messages go from your brain, through your spinal cord, and to certain muscles you are training, basically telling them to contract and tense in order to perform certain movements. Most training you do will take a toll on your CNS, but, not surprisingly, the more work you do, the more fatigued your CNS will become.


Therefore, it's relatively safe to say that legs will create the most amount of taxing effort on your CNS. Why? It's right there in the information provided about the leg muscles: the muscle group is so big, meaning multiple muscles will be working and breaking down. The more muscles you work, the more the CNS needs to work. The more they are broken down, the more time you will need to recover, and to rebuild the muscles bigger and stronger. The large number of muscles working during leg sessions is what causes the CNS to fatigue so much.


What Muscles Are Actually Used During Leg Training?

This is where it gets to make more sense about why you feel so drained after an intense leg workout. Yes you are working a lot of muscles in the legs, but if you are performing almost any squat-like movement, you will find you are actually activating more than just your leg muscles.


Think about it. When you perform a squat, you are basically using every single part of your body to perform the exercise. Your ankles will be your base of stability. Every part of your leg will be working during the movement. Your core needs to be tight. Your chest needs to be activated and held upright. Your shoulders are being retracted, your forearms are holding/griping the bar, and your back needs to be kept straight as your main source of support. From head to toe, your body is engaging in order for you to be able to squat.


Working out your legs is going to be hugely beneficial for your entire body. If you haven't heard it already, if you want a big chest or a big upper body, just big muscles in general, you need to train your legs. While most emphasis of leg exercises are placed on the leg muscles, your entire body will be working, breaking down, and needing repairing.


Why Should I Train My Legs?

As I have said, legs are the biggest group of muscles in your body, so why wouldn't you train them? Even though it might be a bit nerve wracking stepping under the bar to squat more than your own weight, doesn't it also feel great to be able to do it? If you're really keen on lifting heavy weights, then working your legs should be top of your list.


But those are just the tips of the iceberg for why legs are so important. Squats (along with deadlifts) release a large amount of growth hormone and testosterone, two natural muscle building hormones. Being a compound movement, a squat engages so many muscles, and this is what causes the hormonal release. That release can help other muscles to recover AND grow.


Another point to make is that you should train your legs so you don't look like a letter T. Big up top and small down the bottom. A big chest is on most guys wish list, but what about big legs too? You don't want to have a massive upper body and then let yourself down over the lower half and be disproportionate.


What Happens If I Don't Train My Legs?

There will be some people who tell you that you really, truly, 100% honestly don't need to train your legs. And they are right too. Nobody NEEDS to train their legs. If you don't train them but train your upper body intensely and frequently, you will more than likely end up looking like a T. You also might find general things just that bit more difficult, with such a huge upper body but nothing to support your massive frame.


But if your goal is to get into body building, maybe kick a ball further, be able to jump higher, be able to run faster, or maybe even to impress that cute girl at the gym, then training your legs should be a top priority. Just like a house needs a foundation, so does your body, and your legs are that foundation. Use your legs as the starting point and the base from which to sculpt the rest of your physique.


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How Should I Train My Legs?

This will depend on how you respond best to training in general. Some will respond better to high volume training, where they do a lot of reps. Others will respond better to simply loading a bar with as much weight as possible and doing a small number of reps.


However, in either case, both high volume AND heavy weight should be used for leg training. Legs generally respond better to being put through a lot of work. One of the best methods for leg training is to do squat sets of 20 reps to really tear down your leg muscles. But at the same time, when you use heavier weight, that tends to put a lot of stress on the CNS. The more weight you use, the more response you get from your CNS.


The same goes for rest periods. Some will see better results from resting longer, while others may find that the less time they give their legs to recover, the more than can tear them apart. Try training with a mixture of methods, and see what brings the best results.


What I will say is if possible, split your leg training up into two days. Given the number of muscles you need to work, two days gives you the opportunity to basically cover them all sufficiently. If people try to jam their leg workouts all into one day, they can find that the workout is either too long, or that they don't do enough work for each different muscle group. You may even find, for example, that you fail to pay any attention to glute exercises because you are so focused on your quads.


What Are The Best Exercises For Legs?

Squats are the number one exercise for training legs. As I have already explained, they activate more than just your legs, so make them a staple in your workout. Front squats are a variation where you have the bar across your chest/shoulders rather than your back, and place more emphasis on your quads than any other leg muscles.


Aside from squats, any leg exercise is a good exercise, simply choose the right exercise to fit your training schedule. Here is a list of some of the more popular ones:

Conclusion

It might not be your favourite workout of the week, but a leg workout is going to be good for you in more ways than one. If you're looking for a complete physique, you won't get it without training your legs. It's not necessarily going to be easy, and I'll be honest, I get a bit nervous/anxious before I train my legs. But if it were meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it, right?!


Once I have finished a leg workout I feel totally PUMPED. Even though it's one of the workouts I get the most nervous about, once I get started, I feel like I rip into my workout with everything I've got. In fact, my leg workouts always seem to be the workouts where I feel like I push myself the hardest. That's what the gym is – a place to push yourself to your limits. Don't hold back, give it everything you've got. Training your legs = gains, and that is always a good thing. You won't regret it!


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MEMBER COMMENTS
GaryMiller16
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This is my first chance to talk on this website. I discovered some amazing matters and I can implement it in my trainings! Continue sharing the more posts - Really good stuff! 
Check this in case you have some issues with writing training programs or schedules.

jcgadfly
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I must be strange - I actually enjoy working legs. My legs are very tolerant to the grief I put them through. I often compare them to drunken frat pledges. I haze them at least twice a week and their only response is "Thank you sir! May I have another?" 

JoeHurricane Edit Delete Close

Don't worry, you're not alone in enjoying working your legs @jcgadfly! That's a good comparison haha.

Brolle81
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Leg day is best day. Squats and Deadlifts is what separates wannabees from the real ones. I enjoy leg training more then any upper body parts to be honest. 

Fox84
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awesome article Jordan, imformative as always :) totally reminds me to some squats and lunges

jmboiardi
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As the saying goes - "If you want big arms, train your legs"  :-)

JoeHurricane Edit Delete Close

Right on @jmboiardi!...people need to know it isn't the other way around :P

Adawg38
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Hopefully this will help the new generation to stop skipping leg day! :)

Great article!

Does anyone else have the ad for the briefs at the top of their page? I was thinking about getting the purple ones.

JoeHurricane Edit Delete Close

Yeah man leg day will be the new chest day! haha

I don't have that ad...but purple briefs sound great! haha

Whisper
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People loved the video on facebook. Lots of comments, shares and heat in general. Good job man. Waiting for more of your work :)

JoeHurricane Edit Delete Close

Pretty cool that is was popular on Facebook! Hopefully I will have to make some others like this then! haha

kevinkoprol
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Great article man!

Scott_Herman
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Great job @joehurricane!!  Very proud of you!!

JoeHurricane Edit Delete Close

Thanks @scott_herman! That means a lot man, it really does