Due to the popularity of cardiovascular exercise and upper body strength training, leg strength training is often overlooked. However, leg strength training deserves a place in your workout. Whether you are just trying to increase your calf strength or training to improve in running or cycling, here are some tips to make the most of your leg strength training.
1. Allow Adequate Time for Muscle Recovery
During any strength training program, it takes time for muscles to rebuild. If you continue to work your muscles before they have fully recovered, you hinder your strength training results. It is important to take between 3-6 days of rest before working a group of muscles again.
If your leg strength training is being done as part of your overall strength training, split your training into upper and lower training, and train each on different days during the week. An example of a two week cycle of this type of training could go this way:
- Monday: Leg strength training.
- Tuesday: Rest day.
- Wednesday: Upper body strength training. Note: This would be your second day
- of resting your legs muscles.
- Thursday: Rest day. Note: This is the third day of resting your leg muscles and the first day of resting your upper body muscles.
- Friday: Leg strength training. Having rested your legs for 3 days, they should be ready for training again.
- Monday: Upper body strength training. You’ve had Thursday, Friday and the weekend to rest your upper body, so it will be ready for training again.
- Tuesday: Rest day.
- Wednesday: Leg strength training.
- Thursday: Rest day.
- Friday: Upper body strength training.
After this, you would cycle back to the first week.
Alternatively, if you’re just working on leg strength training, you could do exercises that just work the muscles in one leg and alternate each leg. Use the same two week program listed above, except you would alternate between left leg strength training and right leg strength training.
These are only suggestions, and you will need to figure out a schedule that works best for you.
2. Increase the Intensity of Your Workouts
Workouts can be broken down into 2 types: those meant for endurance and toning and those meant for strength and size. High intense workouts help to increase strength and size. Leg strength training will be better reached with short intense workouts than longer ones that don’t push your limits.
3. Climb Up and Down Stairs
Stair climbing is an easy-to-do leg strength exercise that doesn’t require any equipment. Take every opportunity to use the stairs whenever possible. If you have regular access to stairs, such as your home or apartment building, or at work, climb up and down them as your regular routine. By climbing both up and down the stairs, you work two sets of muscles. For a more intense workout, try climbing every other stair.
Arguably the most popular leg strength training workout, squats are a great way to work just about every muscle in your lower body. The basics of squats are:
- Line your feet up with your shoulders.
- Hold a barbell behind your neck, resting it on your shoulders and back.
- Lower your body into a squat.
- Lift to a standing position.
Many variations of squats exist, such as back squat, front squat, overhead squat, single leg squat and split squat.
Make sure to eat a steady amount of protein to help promote muscle growth. Foods that are high in protein include meat and dairy.
Leg strength training can be a valuable part of your overall training. As long as you give your muscles time to recover, eat a diet high in protein, and do the right exercises at the proper intensity, you can get the most out of your training.