So you’ve managed to squeeze some time for an intense lower-body workout into your packed schedule, and want to make the most of it? Here’s how to turn your leg day in the gym into one that is truly LEGendary:
1. Lift heavy
Whether your goal is to lose body fat or gain muscle mass (or both), engaging the largest muscle group in your body with challenging loads is the way to go. The only stipulation for this tip to work is that you’ll have to lift weights you’re not used to: think 65 to 85% of the maximum amount you can lift.
2. Squat all the way down
When you do deep squats – that is, when you go below parallel to where the hamstring covers the calf – you improve your knee and lower back function by optimally training the entire lower body musculature. If you don’t have the flexibility or mobility needed to do deep squats, squat with your heels on 2.5kg weight plates or a wedge board.
3. Add lunges to your routine
No matter your level of fitness or training goals, lunges are a versatile exercise that can be modified to suit a myriad of needs, and help improve balance between the muscles in the body so that you can avoid injury. Try static lunges if you’re a beginner, and move on the Bulgarian split squats and then jumping lunges for the really advanced.
4. Perform seated and standing calf raises
For a great calf workout, perform both seated and standing calf raises, using an extended lowering (eccentric) phase. This way, you can train both the gastrocnemius muscle, which is mostly fast-twitch and best activated when standing, and the soleus muscle, which is composed of more slow-twitch fibres.
5. Use eccentric training
Increasing the stress of the downward motion of an exercise by increasing the load or the time spent on that phase of the lift is known as eccentric training. By accentuating the resistive action of strength training, you can build muscle and burn calories more effectively.
A well-structured leg workout is both demanding and rewarding! Pick and choose which tips work for you – don’t be the kind of person who skips leg day just because you don’t like it!