Leg day is the day in a workout plan you focus on leg muscle strength. Some people regularly skip it but there are important reasons not to.
There are many different exercises you can do on leg day but there are some commonalities in how they can benefit you. Even if you already do cardio like running on top of your regular strength training workout it may be smart to implement leg day anyway.
If you are still doubting whether leg day is for you these 12 reasons to not skip leg day may convince you otherwise.
1. You miss out on a lot of calorie-burning
On leg day you increase the intensity of your movements for a period of time. This leads to using up more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
For example a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing bodyweight lunges for 15 minutes burns around 110 calories.
Another way workouts, mainly strength training exercises, help you lose weight is by increasing your muscle mass which in turn helps with burning more energy with everything you do.
Leg strength training exercises usually don’t burn that many calories during the workout. They are however a good exercise for building extra muscle mass since your legs are such a big muscle group.
This can make leg day a time-efficient workout for long-term calorie burning. Because of the muscle mass you create with one workout session you will burn extra calories for a long time with everything that you do.
2. Everyday tasks become easier
Sooner or later you will inevitably have to move those boxes, that couch, laundry basket, or basically any other object that som leg muscles could come in handy for.
By not skipping leg day you will be ready for moments like these. This way you won’t have to call up and wait for friends or family to help you.
3. You can improve athletic performance
Getting better at a certain sport or exercise isn’t necessarily done by doing these activities more. Cross-training which is training in a different sport can be useful.
One study suggests that jump height in turn is related to sprint performance (3). This means that not skipping leg day can improve your performance in basically any sport that involves fast running.
4. More flexibility
Flexibility is the range of motion specific joints or joint groups can do.
By doing a leg day exercise like squats where you push these boundaries you are able to increase this range (4). This in turn can help reduce the likelihood of accidents, especially falls, and improve exercise performance.
5. Reduced risk of injury
The next reason to not skip leg day is that it can help you prevent injuries.
The first reason this is the case is that leg day done right can help you avoid strength imbalances. A strength imbalance is when one side of your body is stronger than the other. This can lead to increase injury risk (5).
6. Improved balance
Although with some leg day exercises more than others, you can definitely challenge your balance and coordination skills while doing leg exercises. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills. Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.
The benefits of improved coordination don’t just show up in other technical sports. Daily activities as simple as walking the stairs require coordination.
Besides improving the balancing skills of your brain, you also have a bigger ratio of your weight at a lower place if you build leg muscle mass with leg day. In different words, you get a lower center of gravity. This in turn leads to a more stable body.
7. Your body proportions look better
This next reason to not skip leg day may be a bit more subjective but skipping leg day leads to unusual-looking body proportions.
Many people go to the gym to improve their physical appearance. Skipping leg day can in turn undo some of these efforts to look better.
8. Your bones become stronger
This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.
The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long-term.
How good your leg day is for bone density depends on the exercise you do and how much external weight you use. Weighted squats will generally be better for bone density than bodyweight squats.
9. Leg day can help improve posture
Sticking to your leg day exercises, especially back squats (which are squats with a weighted barbell on your shoulders), with the right technique can help you train muscles that are important for a good posture.
Improving your posture will help you avoid related injuries. One small study even suggests that open non-verbal displays, which a good posture helps with, are attractive (14).
10. Better cardiovascular health
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. Your legs are a big muscle group that needs a lot of blood going through, especially when doing heavy leg exercises on leg day. This in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (15, 16, 17, 18, 19).
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements and build up from there.
11. Leg day doesn’t take a lot of time
Another reason to not skip leg day is that a good leg workout session doesn’t require a lot of time. To build muscle you basically want to put enough strain on your muscles so muscle growth processes start. This doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time out of your day.
For example for squats to build the most muscle mass you only want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 squats depending on how advanced you are. Longer duration workouts can still offer benefits but this means that there is one reason less why you can’t work out.
This benefit of leg days is especially useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in a workout.
12. Your lungs will work better
To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.
By using your lungs more, thanks to leg day workouts, you can improve how well they work (20, 21, 22, 23, 24). Your legs are one of the biggest muscle groups you have. Engaging them with strength training on leg day will require a lot of oxygen and thus work your lungs.
Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.
While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than leg day exercises, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one body part workout to your routine.
One thing you need to remember is that doing leg day exercises like weighted squats with a suboptimal technique can be hard on body parts like your knees and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. Pay attention to using the right technique for these exercises to avoid any injures.