Not many people enjoy doing leg exercises. Most men prefer to focus their training on their chest, abs and arms. And a vast majority of women avoid leg training for fear of building massive legs. If they do work out their legs, it’s usually for sculpting their muscles. In this article, find out why working your leg muscles is so important.
The leg muscles are varied and constitute large muscle groups. If you do a compound exercise for the legs, you are activating these large muscle groups all at once to varying extents. The squat, for example, is a compound exercise that recruits lower and even upper body muscles. When doing this exercise, you specifically target the quadriceps muscles located at the front of the leg above the knee. But as it is a compound exercise, you also recruit to a lesser extent the hamstring and the calves as stabilisers.
Thus with one compound exercise, you are working your whole lower body. This translates into a large amount of natural growth hormones being injected into the body to grow these muscles. Contrast this with say a biceps workout. The biceps is a much smaller muscle group that the legs and the consequent release of growth hormones will be much smaller as well. Working your legs will release a large volume of growth hormones into your bloodstream which will then circulate throughout the other muscles of your body and give them a boost too.
Targeting all the muscles
The squat works the hamstring in a static fashion. Although it provides a good level of workout for the beginners for hamstrings, this is not sufficient for intermediate lifters. The emphasis of the squat and squatting exercises such as the hack squat and the leg press is on the quadriceps. If you rely on this for your hamstring workout, these muscles will be neglected and you may suffer from a muscle imbalance whereby one muscle group is vastly more powerful than the other opposing muscle.
Thus, when working one muscle group , say the quadriceps, you need to work the opposing group of muscles, the hamstrings. Leg curls, lying or standing, depending on the configuration of the machine, are an effective exercise to target the hamstrings. Straight-leg deadlifts by bending from the hips and pulling from the legs also target the hamstrings. By increasing the strength of your hamstrings, you will improve your lift on the squat and similar compound exercises.
Thus the advantages of working your leg muscles are considerable. Activate these large muscles and release extra growth hormones into your body for other muscles too. Train with compound exercises and you target your whole lower body. Don’t forget to specifically target smaller leg muscles to prevent imbalance and injury.