When it comes to leg day, it seems like everyone always has questions, so we thought, why not ask the people what they want to know!
We asked for your questions on leg day over on the clock app, and man, did you send in some awesome ones. So thank you for that! Let’s get some ham hocks!
ALL ABOUT LUNGES
@pamss83 says, “Explain proper form on lunges. I feel like a leaning tower of Jenga.”
- Okay, so lunges. Some people love them some people love to hate them. I think they’re awesome but I also have taken a long time to perfect my form… so there’s that. Lunges are dope because they’re compound movements, they target hams, glutes, and quads all with one movement. The deeper you can get into that lunge, the more it works your quads, so when you hear people talk about the importance of depth in a lunge, now you know. You can do all sorts of different variations on the lunge, but let’s talk about the most basic version.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, take a step forward, and bend both of your knees, lowering until both of your knees are at a 90 degree angle. (We use the cue 90/90 to remind you of this when you’re learning how to do them.)
- Shift your weight forward onto you lead leg, your knee should be directly above the ankle on your lead leg, and the weight should be sitting on the heel, not on the front of your foot.
- Push off on both legs and squeeze your glutes to stand up while stepping forward/back depending on if you’re doing walking or stationary lunges
- Things to remember: lunges are a lower body exercise, but it still requires you to remember a few things on the top half while you’re building those holiday hams.
- Engage your core and tuck your hips so your lower back isn’t arched and your pelvis is lined up with your ribs.
- At the bottom of the lunge, your shin on the front leg should be pretty close to perpendicular to the floor with your foot flat on the floor. The weight on the back leg should rest on your toes with your heel off the floor and shin almost parallel to the floor.
- If you have stability issues, do stationary lunges while holding on to the side of the squat rack or whatever you can use to keep yourself from falling over. That will help you build strength in the movement while you get used to doing them, and you’ll be doing lunges unassisted before you know it.
- One other que to remember is that you want to be on railroad tracks versus a balance beam. What do we mean by that? You shouldn’t have your legs stacked in a straight line, you should have one foot on one track, and the other on the other track.
INEFFECTIVE LEG EXERCISES
@craefishhh asks, “What are the most ineffective leg exercises? Do hip abductor/adductor build glutes? Are they worth doing?
- When it comes to effectiveness of a movement, I think that’s going to really depend on what your goals are. Some people think hip thrusts and glute kickbacks are garbage, but I like to program them on leg day often, because they really helped me grow muscle mass and strength in my legs.
- What really renders an exercise useless is bad form. You should be able to get some kind of benefit out of almost any movement, as long as you do it correctly.
- Abductor and adductor work is really important for hip strength and mobility… if those things are important to you, then you should probably be doing them.
- Abductors and adductor work are movements you can do pretty much any day. They are gonna hurt at first tho cuz your legs probably aren’t used to moving like that. So drop the weight and take it slow at first.
- Don’t forget that you can do abductor and adductor work without a machine. Don’t sleep on lunges, step ups, banded clam shells, etc… which brings us to our next point:
- The notion of “good” or “bad” in fitness isn’t something that we strive for. However, there are more optimal movements that you can do, depending on what your goals are.
- Squats (any variation, including bss)
- Lunges (walking, lateral, front, reverse etc)
- Deadlift (single, sumo, conventional)
- step ups!
- At the end of the day, movement is movement and is a good thing. Once you have your goals laid out, it becomes way easier to figure out what is optimal for YOU
RESISTANCE BANDS FOR LEG DAY
@jenn_me2 asked, “What about the use of resistance bands. Not like putting them around your knees and side stepping, but using them for functional fitness? Warm-up, strength training, corrective exercises…”
- There are SO MANY things you can do besides side steps when it comes to leg day!
- Let’s talk about the hip circle first. Remember abductors and adductors? You can work those with banded clamshells. You can work your glutes by doing banded glute kickbacks. Doing hip thrusts and squats with a hip circle adds an extra layer of difficulty to those movements because you have to keep the band taught in addition to going through the movement.
- You can use the assisted pull-up bands for leg day fun like seated leg extensions and seated or lying leg curls. As far as warm-ups go, I like to do leg swings with a pull-up band.
- If you have the ones with the handles attached, you have options there too, you can use those for squat work and lying leg work too.
- Like dumbbells, there are a ton of things you can do with barbell that you can also do with a band. It can be a great way to warm up on your leg day
- Banded good mornings, deadlifts, squat press outs etc. Doing these movements can warm up your legs really well in preparation of the stress you’re about to put your muscles and joints under.
- Banded glute bridges can help with your hips.
- Need to warm up those hip flexors? Do some banded monster walks. (Bonus, this movement also targets your quads)
- Place a band below your knees, at your ankles, feet should be hip width apart. Lower into squat position, chest raised, hold hands behind your back and step forward in a skating motion, your feet should go in an in and out motion)
- Don’t forget about banded fire hydrants! They helps increase hip abductor strength and glute muscle strength
- Truly, this list could get very long. Bands are super great for building stability, strength and mobility in a major way, which typically will translate to more gains over time!
INTENSITY ON LEG DAY
@iastate80 says, “Can you talk about leg day and the intensity that it actually takes to grow your legs? I think people think you can go light and easy on leg day.”
- It takes high and low intensity movements to grow your legs, but you have to be strategic about it. If you want to grow your legs, you’re going to have to move some weight, end of story… but that’s gonna look a little different depending on your goals.
- Always remember that the best way to get growth, if that’s what you’re seeking is time under tension and progressive overload.
- If things are feeling too easy for you or you want to change it up, you can always add the following:
- Dropsets, in which you quickly reduce the weight by about 25 percent once you reach muscle failure, and continue on with your set. These seem to fit in best after working sets.
- Partial reps, in which you do as many full-range reps as you can, then do a few more partials, either above or below your sticking point.
- Reduced rest time to increase training intensity.
- We kind of talked about intensity a couple episodes back “Push It, Push It Good”. You know yourself best, if you’re easily making it through each workout and breezing through every set, you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. The goal is to challenge yourself and not let your mental take over. Honestly, a lot of times, I will tell myself it’s light weight…. it honestly helps hahaha.
Now that we’ve cleared a few things up for you, grow them gams fam!