We’ve all seen the “Don’t skip leg day” or “Friends don’t let friends skip leg day” memes scattered about the internet. These memes often depict some guy with the upper body physique of Superman and legs like Lois Lane.
The last thing you ever want to happen is to find a picture of yourself with the tag like “Don’t skip leg day”
Unfortunately, for most, leg day can be a very intimidating from the start.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
The most effective lower body exercises are usually compound movements that can be initially difficult to learn and take a substantial amount of time to become proficient in.
This can make leg day uncomfortable and if you are just a casual lifter or training for recreation it can be very easy to go to the gym and hit chest for the fifth day in a row and skip on your good ol’ squats and lunges.
Overtime time skipping leg day will not only cause you to look like you belong in an aviary, but it will also cause muscle imbalances and other problems that can be detrimental to your overall health.
Here are some enjoyable lower body exercises you can perform to ensure that you don’t find yourself on the cover of ‘Chicken Whisperer Magazine’.
Squatting is one of the most foundational movement patterns engrained in human function. From a very early age we are able to squat correctly with full range of motion.
Unfortunately in today’s society it is easy to get further and further away from performing this otherwise natural movement.
Squatting is a compound movement meaning that it utilizes more than one joint action to complete the exercise. The ankles, knees, and hips and shoulder joints all come into play when performing the exercise correctly, essentially ensuring that your entire human anatomy is at work.
You can perform squats in a squat rack, with dumbbells, kettlebells or even just bodyweight. The movement pattern can be loaded with nearly any equipment and works nearly every part of the lower body making it a staple exercise for any leg day.
How to perform:
Begin by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart and feet in whatever stance feels most comfortable.
– Begin the movement at your hips by pushing your butt back and bending your knees as if sitting into a chair. Focus on keeping your chest up and back flat. You should not have any rounding of your spine at any point of the movement.
– Continue to descend into the movement until you have reached your end range of motion.
– Then stand back up.
You can load this pattern however you prefer, to continue challenging yourself and developing strength.
Deadlifts are another natural and functional compound movement pattern of the human body. If done correctly deadlifting will target primarily the posterior chain including the calves, hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
This movement is different from the squat due to a greater emphasis on the hip hinge mechanic. When performing this exercise you should be able to maintain a flat neutral spine and move directly from the hip. Not lower back.
How to perform:
Begin in a standing position over a barbell with your feet about hip width apart in a comfortable stance. The bar should be about half way between your heel and toe as you look down.
– Begin the movement by pushing your butt back and hinging at the hips. Once you have run out of range in the hips bend the knees to get down to the bar.
– Grab the bar with both hands with a grip that is just outside your knees. Pull your shoulder blades down and back and keep your back flat before initiating the pull of the bar.
– The movement will start by pushing the ground down and pulling the bar up simultaneously until you have reached a tall standing position.
– Repeat the movement to lower the bar back down safely.
The key to this exercise is to ensure that you have no spinal motion during any part of the movement. Your back should stay neutral the entire time.
Lunges are great for developing unilateral strength and targeting the stabilizers in the ankle, knee and hips.
You can perform lunges in nearly every direction and need very minimal equipment for them to be effective, making them a great exercise for the gym or on the go.
Begin by standing with your torso upright holding two dumbbells with your hands by your sides.
– Step forward just a few feet in front of you while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance.
– Drop your knee on the back leg down towards the floor and keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.
– Then step your back leg up and return to start position before repeating for the other side.
Begin by standing in an athletic position with feet about shoulder width apart.
– Begin by taking a lateral step to the right.
– Extend the left knee and keep it straight while driving your weight to the right leg and flexing the knee. Ensure that throughout the entire movement your back stays flat and chest stays up.
– Push through the right leg and extend the knee until returning to start position.
Begin in a standing position with feet about shoulder width apart.
– Initiate the action by rotating the hips and stepping back and around with your right leg.
– Keep your left leg stationary and begin by bending both knees dropping the right knee down and towards the floor. Focus on keeping your chest up and back flat through the entire movement.
– After you have gone through full range of motion, push back through the right leg and return to start position.
They key to not skipping leg day is to do something for your legs every day!
I suggest you mix one of these enjoyable lower body exercises into your daily workout routine.
It doesn’t have to be heavy, it can just be the movement at bodyweight. Practice leads to mastery and mastery leads to never skipping leg day.
Get in, have fun and get it done!
Connect with Expert Ryan Milton.