Training your legs is one of the most important parts of your workout routine, it sets the base for almost all other muscle groups that you plan to train. You need a stable and strong base with good flexibility to get the most out of every workout day.
Leg day is often the hardest workout day, and you often see gym-goers skipping leg day or not putting enough effort in to get the best results. It’s the most hated day out of people’s workout routines and why you see so many undeveloped legs with large upper bodies on many men.
Detailed below are 10 reasons why everyone hates leg day and what you can do about it.
1. Results Are Hard To See
Training legs has two issues when you’re trying to see the results of the workout. First off, you don’t get a visible pump from leg training as you do on your push and pull workout days, so a lot of your motivation can be removed, especially when you’re training for 1-2 hours.
Gym walls are lined with mirrors because people like to see their immediate progress or pump while they’re working out, and this adds to their motivation during workouts, for push and pull, you always get an arm pump which is a great motivator for most men.
Your other issue is that even with long-term progress and gains in size, you don’t always see significant benefits in the change your legs go through for the amount of effort required on leg days. Typically your quads, hamstrings, and glutes will be covered at all times.
Four potential solutions are to wear 5” inseam shorts to the gym and during summer, lose some body fat to enhance the muscle definition in your legs, use a vascular pump supplement like Citrulline, and put more focus on your calves to make them grow larger.
2. Squats Are The Most Taxing Exercise
Squats tax your central nervous system more than any other exercise that you’re going to be doing. Performing squats will make you feel tired and potentially run down for multiple days after a leg training session, which often can ruin your other training days.
If you’re squatting correctly, it’s going to be engaging almost every muscle in your lower body, but it will also target your back, core, shoulders, and even your arms, so it’s putting pressure on every part of your body, which is why it’s so challenging.
If squats are becoming too hard or running you down, so that other workout days are ruined, then you need to consider lowering the weight or decreasing the reps that you’re doing. You should also add a rest day after your leg training for extra recovery time.
3. Leg Day Can Cause Too Much Pain
The amount of weight you’re putting on your legs can cause a lot of pain that makes you want to skip leg day altogether. Most exercises cause some degree of pain or issues, but when you’re squatting in particular, you have weight pushing down on multiple areas of your body.
If your form isn’t perfect or you have existing injuries, then the weight may be loaded poorly on your body and cause pain that could also lead to permanent injury.
One potential solution to this issue is to get a personal trainer to take you through a couple of training sessions so they can assess and modify your exercise form. It would be ideal for them to check your squats and deadlifts as these can be the most painful and risk the most injury.
Your other solution is to skip some of the bigger compound exercises and focus on machines for your leg day, such as the leg press, squat machine, and anything else your gym may have that takes some of the pressure off your joints.
4. Free Weight Training Can Be Challenging
Free weight training for your legs can be very challenging, you’ve got heavy weight loaded, and in some cases, you need to move or walk in different planes of movement, such as with dumbbell or barbell lunges.
Typically the issue with free-weight leg exercises and movement is that your balance may be poor, or your joints may need extra protection. Feeling unbalanced while you’re loaded up with heavy weights can result in high effort but poor results due to limited range of motion.
Try adding stability exercises into your routine so that your balance is improved, and work on building muscle up around your knees to reduce pain and add a lot of support for leg day training.
5. Leg Cramps Are Horrible
Many people experience terrible leg cramps in the evening after their big leg day workouts, this can happen while you’re relaxing in the evening or even while you’re sleeping. If you’ve experienced this type of pain, then you know how bad it can be and how long it lasts.
Leg cramps will involuntarily contract and tighten your leg muscles, this can happen almost anywhere on your leg. You might have them in your hamstrings, foot, calf, or anywhere else.
The biggest factor for leg cramps after leg day is lack of water and salt, so make sure that during your leg day, you keep hydrated and have enough water after training is completed. You’ll also need to ensure that you add some salt to some of your water to replenish electrolytes.
Alternatively, you can drink a couple of Gatorade or similar sports drinks, just remember to go for the zero-calorie options.
6. Your Calves Aren’t Growing
Your calves are one of the only parts of your legs that are visible most of the time unless you’re wearing tighter or shorter shorts during summer, but calves are one of the hardest muscles to get big, and in some cases, your genetics may restrict how big they can get.
If you dread leg day or simply don’t find it worthwhile because you’ve tried and your calves don’t grow, and nobody sees the rest of your legs, then consider pulling calves from your leg day and adding them as a separate routine that you perform 3-4 times a week.
Adding lighter weight with more reps for your calves will help them grow to the maximum and make your legs look much better. Typically leg day is 1-2 times per week, and this isn’t enough to get calves growing for many people.
Also, make sure to add multiple exercises for your calves, standing, and seated calf raises at a minimum to get maximum growth.
7. Expectations Are High For Maximum Weight
Any exercise that you do should be improved over time, and if you’re training with people or simply conscious that people are watching your progression, there can be an expectation that you’re going to be lifting extremely heavy weight, especially on leg day.
This expectation can make you hate leg day because it’s taxing, painful, and just not a fun experience, but you may feel like you need to lift heavy.
The solution is to stop caring and work on yourself, if your training partners or anybody at the gym is causing you real grief about lifting too heavy, you need to skip the partner or the gym.
Focus on slow progression with weight increases and rep increases, don’t try to jump up in weight too heavily as you will just hate leg day and try to skip it as often as possible.
8. Squat Racks Are Always Busy
If you love training legs but hate leg day because it’s so hard to find squat racks or leg press machines, then you may miss out on the leg exercises you want and have to stick with boring exercises, or your leg day runs a lot longer, and you’re waiting around too long for equipment.
Most commercial gyms have a limited number of squat racks and leg press machines, which are the most popular pieces of leg equipment, so you need to find a better gym that has more equipment that you want to use.
Most private strength gyms will be filled with squat racks, though not leg press machines, so find a local private gym and see if they have the equipment you want and how busy they are.
9. You Can’t Hit Depth On Squats
Squats are the king of leg days, and unless you have specific injuries, then you should be performing them at least once per week, but one of the big issues for many people is that they can’t hit depth or go low enough when they squat and this can causes embarrassment.
Due to the differences in people’s bone structure and even the flexibility in your joints, you may need to perform your squats with a different stance. Try squatting with a narrow stance and a wide stance to see what position you can get the lowest in.
Your other issue may be flexibility in your joints, such as your ankles, and you need to work on mobility drills to improve your ankle flexibility, so check YouTube for some easy options to do at home to improve flexibility.
10. Every Time You Train Legs You Get DOMS
DOMS is the pain in your legs the next day after leg day and for the next few days or week that makes it hard to walk up stairs, sit on the toilet, or do anything that requires leg movement, and many people associate it with your muscles growing and may even want the pain.
DOMS is not required and shouldn’t be impacting you every leg day, but if you skip too many leg days or you push past your limits too often, then DOMS is going to hit you every time.
The solution is to be consistent with your leg days, you should be hitting legs 1-2 times per week, mix up your leg exercises, and make sure you get plenty of rest, sleep, and water after a leg training day.
Austin is the author of loveatfirstfit.com and a personal trainer with extensive knowledge in nutrition. Austin is passionate about helping others to find a suitable healthy lifestyle and feel good about themselves. Austin’s goal is to help people push their limits and achieve their physical performance.