Should You Skip Leg Day?
Should You Actually Skip Leg Day?
What is leg day? Obviously, leg day involves all leg-based movements. Programming a leg day focuses on increasing strength, power output, or even hypertrophy within the legs. For athletes in the realm of sports performance, we will be focusing on impulse-based training. Impulse is the amount of force that can be applied in a short, short amount of time. Impulse-based training, and leg training in general, is typically based around back squats, cleans, snatches, lunges, deadlifts, and even leg pressing and leg curls.
Identify Specific Goals
The first step when defining the leg day programming is identifying the specific goals for that training day. Do you want the size? Gain strength? Be faster? Improve mobility? Or improve stability?
Define Frequency Of Training
After identifying the main goals, the second key step is defining how frequently the legs will be trained. Ironically, a lot of people program inside the actual systems that they want to do the upper body more frequently than they want to do their legs. Thing is, we know that muscle groups like our quads, specifically the vastus lateralis, respond better to more frequent training sessions than the upper body does.
Understand Neural Drive And Hormonal Response
The third key is to understand the impact leg-based training has on a neural drive and the hormonal response. Because of the speed of training on leg day and because of the intensity of training on leg day, the nervous system learns how to have a stronger twitch force.
Having a stronger twitch force we can recruit more high threshold motor units which in turn leads to greater displays of strength and power. Think about plyometric training.
Extremely complicated exercises, like a back squat, have a lot of things going for them. The back squat is done over multiple joints. The back squat also asks for a lot of weight to be put on the back. The movement forces the body to coordinate rapidly when going through the eccentric portion. At the bottom of the movement, there is a stretch-shortening cycle before having to drive with the torso and trunk vertically to execute a high-speed movement with a large amount of weight. In turn, the nervous system becomes more efficient. This is where exercises like the back squat, front squat, power snatch, snatch, clean, and power clean, all of which can be considered leg day exercises but can transfer to increasing overall upper body strength because of the way the nervous system functions.
Leg day can also have a big impact on hormonal response. Not all athletes, but many athletes will see an uptick in their anabolic hormones. Hormones like IGF-1, testosterone, and MGF will see an increase for 24 to 36 hours after the lift movements. This happens pretty frequently, which gives a window in the next day for growth in other muscular areas as well.
Burn More Calories
Everyone needs to understand that when they squat they will burn more calories. Squatting asks the body to use more joints, more muscle groups, and ultimately leading to a greater hormonal response.
Squatting will also help improve functionality. Squatting regularly, with higher frequency, the body will get comfortable and have good stability in the bottom of the hole. In turn, that range of motion transfers to movement in everyday life.
You most likely need to be training your legs more frequently than you already are.
And just remember, leg day can help with weight loss because there is an excess caloric burn which will help with the total daily energy expenditure. If that doesn’t convince you, squatting more and doing legs more will at the very least make you stronger.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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