Quick disclaimer: I am not a sports doctor or scientist. Despite the above title, I do recognise there is a very small percentage of the population who may have a genuine reason not to weight train their legs.
However, in this blog I want to dispel some myths and provide a whole host of reasons why everyone and anyone should weight train their legs, regardless of your goals, injury history, age, or political persuasion!
- If you want to lose weight, you should train legs
- If you want to build muscle, you should train legs
- If you only want big arms and chest muscles, then you should train legs (because I am ignoring your goal and I’m going to balance you out regardless)
- If you’ve had an extensive injury history in your lower body, then you should certainly train your legs (do sportsmen just stop exercising after rebuilding their ACL or rehabbing a severely torn hamstrings?)
- If you think that running or cycling counts as training your legs, then guess again.
With the correct exercise plan you can build strength in your legs without building unnecessary mass.
I would like to elaborate on the last point above about cyclists; Often I have heard clients/people in gyms say, ‘yeh I don’t train my legs because I cycle a lot, or I play football. So I don’t want ‘big’ legs’.
Let’s flip that around… So, you cycle a lot/play football a lot? Well surely a specific programme to strengthen your legs will help in those pursuits… If not then why do sports teams invest millions in sports science?
Take a look at these sprint cyclists’ legs:
Do you think those legs were built on the cycling track or the gym? I’ll answer that. It was the gym. These guys squat a lot – And often.
Before I explain just some of the benefits of squatting, I wanted to highlight something we’ve probably all noticed.
Back when I started lifting weights most men in the gym would often pound the bench press and arm exercises, neglecting the legs. What is interesting is how over the last decade (largely down to the likes of CrossFit and The Kardashians) I have seen that women of all ages are embracing strength training, especially the legs and bum (men take note). It is refreshing to see women in the gym squatting heavy weights (men take note!).
Everyone take note – Train your entire body!
Widely regarded as the ‘King of Lift’s’. I would estimate that if you asked 100 Personal Trainers or Strength and Conditioning coaches to name their 3 favourite exercises that at least 90% of them would have the squat in that list.
Not only is it a compound movement that activates multiple different muscle groups, but it’s also a primitive movement that transfers into everyday life movements. Plus, squatting is very anabolic meaning that it helps the body build muscle mass.
It is great for mobility because it recruits the hips, ankles and shoulders (barbell squats) to work, and when it’s done in heavy loads, it forces you to learn to brace the body (use your abs) to protect the lower back.
Why You Should Squat
1. SQUATTING IS A FULL BODY EXERCISE
Squatting works it all—from the glutes to the hips, to the abdominals, and upper body (if weight-bearing).
2. SQUATTING TRANSLATES TO EVERYDAY LIFE
Think about it: Each and every time you sit down and stand up, you’re technically doing a squat.
3. SQUATTING HELPS WITH MOBILITY
In order to squat correctly, you need to have the mobility in your hips, ankles, and shoulders (if you’re using a barbell) to get into the proper position.
Exercises that require mobility when loaded with weight can help mobilise because it forces you to control the movement through a range of motion. And that’s basically what mobility is. Top tip… Use a target such as weight bench or low box and work on squatting to that target when starting to learn to squat with a barbell. Be sure to lower the height of the box as mobility increases (until you’ve reached your sensible depth limit).
4. SQUATTING KEEPS BONES STRONG
Squatting is an axial loading exercise, which helps to keep your body healthy and strong. This is great to fight low bone density; squatting will help bones stay healthy and prevent injury.
5. ANYONE CAN DO SQUATS
Squatting doesn’t discriminate—anyone from a teenager to a senior citizen can and will benefit from squatting. You have to squat at any age. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
As always, contact us today for further advice and programmes designed to integrate with your lifestyle!
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