HOW TO TRAIN YOUR LEGS PROPERLY...
Unfortunately ‘skipping leg day’ is one of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to performance and also body re-composition. Training the lower body is super important and not just in order to create strong legs, but because training the lower body can reduce the risk of injury, develop a strong core, improve quality of life, improve performance and help with fat loss.
The purpose of this blog is to provide you with our top 5 tips on how to train your legs properly and effectively. We often spend a lot of time during our personal trainer courses discussing the benefits of developing strong legs and training the lower body effectively.
#1- Full Range of Movement
No matter what exercise you are doing, whether it be squatting, leg press, lunges or deadlifting it is crucial to train through the full range of movement. It is only in rare circumstances should you train through a partial range of movement – and it is important to note that this is only for experienced trainers not beginners. The truth is, in most cases clients must train through the full range of movement and the one exercise where clients struggle to do this is the squat. However, for ultimate ‘gains’ and progression full squats are crucial.
#2- Lift Heavy
If you are constantly performing 15 reps, 20 reps or even 50 rep sets the intensity of your session is actually low. The lower body is the strongest part of your body and it needs to be subjected to heavy loads in order for it to develop. The more muscle you can build in your legs the easier it will become to drop body fat and lean up. Another benefit of lifting heavy is the development of core strength and stability.
#3- Unilateral Training
By training one leg at a time you fully ensure that that leg receives your undivided attention. It also reduces the likelihood of your dominant / strongest leg supporting the weaker side by dominating the exercise – you’d be surprised how often this occurs in beginners and intermediate trainers, even without realising! From experience going through phases of single leg work and re-balancing programmes, when the client returns to normal squats or two leg exercises they are usually stronger. My top exercises that focus on one leg at a time are split squats, Bulgarian split squats, pistol squats, single leg extensions and curls.
#4- Train Hamstrings – Hard!
Hamstrings are possibly one of the most neglected group of muscles in the body. Quite often clients think they work their hamstrings hard with 4 sets of leg curls. The truth is, this only just warms them up. The hamstrings need to be engaged with knee flexion exercises and hip flexion/extension exercises. As a rule, hamstrings are generally fast twitch and powerful muscle fibres. To fully develop your wheels (legs) we highly recommend that you include more than just leg curls into your programme. To help you develop hamstrings more effectively I’ve outlined 4 of my favourite exercises below:
- Nordic Hamstring Curls
- Glute Hamstring Raises
- Single Leg Leg Press (High foot)
Overloading the eccentric phase of the lift if one of the most efficient ways of developing strength. Negatives have been used in weight training for years due the results clients and trainers achieve. However, please be warned that using negatives as a method for improving strength in the lower body can be dangerous, so please consult with a fitness professional before you start.