The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why Your Leg Days Suck

I hear it all the time, and I KNOW I've said it myself in the past. But I constantly see the moaning and groaning about how terrible leg days are, how you're not going to be able to walk the next day, or that you know you're going to feel it in the morning.

"I know, Ol' Yeargain, it's can I cure myself of this???"

Simple answer? Do More Leg Days. More specifically, do more squats.

"What?!?! Are you trying to kill me????"

Yes. But not with training, I want to kill you with my own hands for what you did to my family!!!!

But, I digress.

If you want your leg days to suck less, train your legs more frequently.

Allow me to explain...

The biggest contributor to DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is infrequent training. I'm looking at the bros that come in and maybe hit their legs once a week, or worse, once every two weeks. You are practically BEGGING to have a terrible next couple of days.

The majority of people that are training at a beginner level (I'm including myself as a beginner - it takes a few years to become an intermediate lifter) do what the industry calls "Bro Splits." Meaning that they train one body part, or maybe just two body parts per day, hitting all of their muscle groups once a week. That means it's at least another 5 days before they hit their leg muscles again. Some try to "make this leg day count" so they don't have to work them out again the next week...or until next month, so they'll do twice as many sets as they ever would, they squat heavy and push themselves with overall volume. Then they throw up. This also builds up a stigma with legs and leg based movements. The result is a fear of leg days, less overall muscle development (including your precious six pack) and chicken legs.

This is way more common in men than women. Women seem to focus more on leg based exercises than men...who often will neglect them entirely.

"Then why don't my chest, back and arms get sore?"

Because with the majority of your upper body lifting (even during bro splits), you're hitting multiple muscle groups at a time. You hit your triceps, delts, and lats with bench, you're hitting your biceps with pretty much every pulling see what I'm getting at? Bro splits are great at developing your upper body, but does nothing with overall body, strength and muscular development.

Guys, I know this from experience. I used to eat, drink and breathe bro splits. I used to have a WHOLE day dedicated to Biceps. That was when I was inexperienced and not very well researched. My reward was constant soreness, a very slow strength progression, and a very pitiful squat.

"Your muscles were sore? That means you got a great workout in and your muscles are growing, right?"

Not necessarily. Soreness and protein synthesis do not go hand in hand. Just because you are sore the next day doesn't mean your muscles are growing, and just because you're not sore the next day doesn't mean your workout wasn't effective. Basically what I'm telling you is that being all torn up and sore is not necessary. In fact, being broken all of the time is a good indication of over training (or as I call it Under recovery), which will directly contribute to not gaining muscle.

"What do you Recommend?"

If you're not already, get on a program that requires you to squat 2 to 3 times a week. This will basically hit every muscle in your legs, stimulating the muscle, and prevent soreness from setting in. At first this will suck, especially the first couple of weeks, but then you'll be golden, pony boy. You'll be reaping all of the rewards that come with doing this powerful exercise more frequently, which includes: More calories and fat burned thus allowing you to eat more, improved testosterone levels in your body, better squat form, and stronger legs.

You will find evidence supporting both sides of the fence when it comes to how often one should train, and how much time you need for recovery, just like in this article from T Nation. However, I know from my own experience and the experience of others that the number one thing that stopped me from being straight up broken from my heavy leg workouts was doing more squats through the course of the week. I will do at least 1 set of squats 4 days out of the week, 2 of those days will be squat based training sessions. As a side effect, my legs get less taxed during basketball games, and I'm actually starting to see real quad development.

So, in short...


  1. Lol, but it's true. I know one budy, who is skip leg day, his legs like sticks, and upper body looks like on the picture at the men's water closet. Some day he start to feeling himself bad, and he decided went to the clinic for survey. Then it's turned out that his free testosterone levels in men chart were lower than necessary. Doctors advised him to improve his health, and as soon as possible return him his men's health.