We’ve all heard the advice never to skip leg day, right? And you probably think it’s all about aesthetics; you don’t want to look pecs on stilts. But did you know there are actually benefits to training the lower body?
Read on to find out about the benefits of training your lower body and some of our favorite exercises for building up strength in your legs.
Three important benefits of training your lower body
Improved balance and agility
The ability to stop, change direction, and most locomotion movements require you to have lower body strength. Plus, it means excellent single-leg balance and more power to avoid falls and injuries – both whilst training and in your daily life.
Strengthen and correct muscle imbalances
Everyone favors one side of their body over the other, and most imbalances occur during daily activities or any sports you might play. But by training the lower body, you strengthen and correct those imbalances by strengthening the connective tissues around your lower body joints.
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For example, runners regularly find that they’re firmer and tighter in their quads than hamstrings, which can lead to muscle strains. However, strengthening the hamstrings can prevent this.
Strengthening the lower body helps you run faster and improves your neuromuscular coordination, power, and VO2 max. Plus, it improves your coordination and stride efficiency, allowing you to run faster.
The best exercises for leg day
Barbell Front Squat
The barbell front squat is quite similar to the back squat in terms of alignment, but instead of behind you, the barbell is in front. There are two positions for your hands: shoulder-width apart under the bar or crossed over the bar. Maintain a stable shelf for the barbell by keeping your elbows up.
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Next, engage your core and get into a squat stance. Push evenly through your feet, drive through your heels and thrust your hips back and down and allow the knees to follow the foot’s midline. Like any squat, aim to get your thighs parallel to the floor.
Once you’ve reached your deepest range, engage your core, and drive up through your feet to return to the start position.
Benefits of the Barbell Front Squat
- It targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, and core.
- Leads to improved leg strength and hypertrophy. The barbell front squat builds leg and back strength.
- A more powerful lower body.
Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
Start set up as you would for a stiff-leg deadlift, with your feet hip-width apart and the barbell directly over the center of your feet. Set down the working leg and step your supporting leg back. Push your hips back, grab the bar with hands shoulder-width apart, engage your core, and pull your shoulders down, almost as if you’re holding something in your armpit.
As you rise, you want to keep the barbell path close to the front leg. As you reach your knee, push your hips forward, and when you reach the top, lock in a slight posterior pelvic tilt. Then, as you descend, push your hips back until you get to your knee, and then drop the bar straight down.
Switch your legs and repeat.
Benefits of the Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
- It targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings due to the constant tension.
- Like rack pulls, the single-leg Romanian deadlift will help improve the upper back and lockout strength for conventional deadlifts.
Barbell Hip Thrust
You’ll need a low bench (16 inches or shorter) for this one. Start by sitting with your back to the bench; your shoulder blades should be sitting flush on the top of the bench. Rest the barbell across your hips. You might find it more comfortable with a barbell pad or towel under the bar.
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Your feet should be planted hip-width apart, press into your feet and lift your hips off the ground. Your shoulders will be on the bench, and your hips should be off the ground to create a tabletop or bridge position. Once you reach the top of your bridge position, ensure your chin is still tucked in. As you lower back down, control your form and pace.
Benefits of the Hip Thrust
- It builds more glute mass, strength, and power than any other hip extension exercise.
- It’s less technical and more accessible than other heavily loaded movements such as back squats and deadlift variations.
- Improved glute strength leads to the better overall stabilization of the core, pelvis, and lower back areas.
Barbell split squat
Start by placing the barbell across your back, just like a back squat. Create tension in your upper body and engage your core, drawing elbows down and in. You might find it helps keep your gaze forward and focused on one spot.
Next, take a step back with one leg, keeping your shoulders and hips from tipping forward. Drop your back knee as close to the floor and press through your feet to return to your starter standing position.
Complete all reps on one side and switch to the other leg.
Benefits of the Barbell Split Squat
- More stability means the quads and glutes are overloaded for more mass potential.
- Improves leg drive on each side to help your bilateral squats and deadlifts.
- It reduces strength imbalances.
Ready to get brutal?
Want to see massive gains, enhance your performance in the gym and see results in no time? Of course, you do.
It’s time to get BRUTAL – the right way.