Most of us have a friend or training partner who goes missing on leg day, or comes up with excuses such as knee problems, an old sports injury, etc… But they are missing out, as research has shown that training your legs at least once a week results in numerous benefits. Beyond building sizeable quads, you can increase your testosterone levels, enhance your fat loss, eat what you like and make sure your body’s geometry is working in your favour.
Here are four good reasons why you should train your legs at least once a week.
1. It spikes muscle-building hormones: Performing heavy squats has been shown to increase testosterone levels, helping to maintain muscular size as well as strength. However, to get this hormonal boost, exercises such as squats should be performed at the appropriate intensity. An effective workout would be 5 x 5 (5 sets of 5 reps) back squats at roughly 85% of your 1RM (one repetition maximum).
2. It enhances fat loss: The squat in its many variations is a great movement. Being a compound lift, it hits almost every muscle in the body, particularly your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back and abs. This movement allows you to retain lean body mass and promote fat loss as it requires greater energy expenditure, elevating post exercise metabolic rates for a prolonged period. It may also enhance post exercise lipid oxidation (the fat burning process).
3. Eat big after a heavy leg session: After a heavy weight training session such as squats, you can enjoy yourself and eat a big filling meal. Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine discovered that heavy weight training increases the efficiency of a protein called GLUT4, which improves insulin sensitivity and the rate at which we absorb and use glucose. This means the food you eat will be more effectively used to repair and build muscles used in the session.
4. People notice bad geometry: If you want to look more attractive, don’t skip leg day. Leonardo Da Vinci, inspired by the architect Marcus Vitruvius, created his famous Vitruvian Man to illustrate the “golden ratio” – the mathematical determination of what is objectively attractive. If you don’t work those leg muscles, you might not measure up. Still thinking of missing leg day? Then you better be best friends with the squat rack.
A few tips to remember while doing squats:
* Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and point your toes slightly outward.
* Squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor
* Try not to extend your knees past your toes
* Don’t arch your back
* Keep your chest lifted and look forward
* Drive into the heel and squeeze your glutes as you stand.
Nassim Hamadache is our Pool Fitness Manager and started working here at the Club as a lifeguard four years ago while completing a degree in Business Management. He began swimming at the age of seven at school where he developed a passion for swimming. Since graduating, Nassim has developed his career in the fitness industry and holds the ASA Swimfit Activator as well as being qualified as a Gym Instructor. As well as managing the pool, he teaches classes on a timetable including TRX (Suspension Training) and Indoor Cycling.