Leg Day: An Inconvenient Truth
Here is my leg workout article and the link to the published story in EDGE on the net.
Don’t you just love leg day at the gym? Yeah, I didn’t think so. People fall into two camps regarding leg day: love it or hate it. There is no grey area, it’s not even a sixty-forty split. Die hard physical fitness fanatics love leg day and become all Tim Allen about it, making grunting cave man noises and extolling the virtues of the workout and wanting to do it twice a week. Lay-people grumble about it and can seen, sometimes, even crying while in the middle of it. Cold, hard fact: You have to do it. It’s more than just the aesthetic (how many times have I heard trainers say “no legs, no respect”?) – your legs are the biggest group of muscles in your body and you use them every day. You walk, climb stairs, heck you are doing squats every time you sit down to dinner, to drive or to use the toilet. You have to do them. So why not make the most out of your leg workout, since you have to do it?
When doing a leg workout I do have days when I want to be lazy and just use the curl machine, the calf machine, the extension machine; but I happen to know that I’m being lazy, so most of the time I try to do exercises that require me to work on the floor. I like step ups, walking lunges and squats. You can do them anywhere, any way depending on your equipment availability.
Step Ups don’t need anything but something upon which to step up. Working out in the park? Use a bench. Maybe you have a bench at home, maybe you are a New Yorker, like me, with a stoop that has tall steps. Maybe you are in a gym and have all the equipment you need to work it out. Just put one foot on the item upon which you are stepping and step up, touching down the other foot and, then stepping off; the only thing, though, is that you want to actually do the movement. Start with the right foot on the floor, put it flat on the step and push up through the quad and the glute and bring the other foot up to the step; then, step down the second foot and then the first foot. Make a complete movement, squeezing through all the muscles working. Do this twenty five reps, each leg, three sets. If you have weights available, do it while holding a dumbbell in each hand. It hurts me, but I like 35 to 40 pound dumbbells. I don’t mind the pain because the result is worth it. If you saw my legs, you would agree.
Walking lunges just need room to move. Just take long steps forward, front leg at 90 degree angles (you know the don’t let the knee go past the toe rule, right?) and the back leg really stretched out – feel the stretch in the back leg’s inner thigh. Try to get your center of gravity close to the floor (you know, your crotch); and just walk across the floor. Twenty paces in one direction, turn and go back twenty paces. That’s a total of forty paces per set, three sets. For more fun and more results, do this while passing a weight through the space between your legs with every stride. I use a 25 lb plate, dumbbell or kettlebell. Remember to breathe – it’s hard. And take your full 30 to 60 second rest period. Hydrate.
Squats are simple. You can do them with weight on your shoulders, you can do them with dumbbells in your hands; you can do them on a Bosu ball, you can do them on a floor, beach or park playground. You just have to do them – and not be lazy. Like you are sitting down on the toilet – push your hips back, keep your torso up, keep the knees at 90 degrees, breathe and, when you push back, push through the glutes til can feel the stretch into your lower back – when you push up, squeeze everything. People don’t want to squat because it’s boring and painful; so if you are going to do it, do it right the first time. Always do three sets of 25 and do it twice a week.
Then go buy a new swimsuit. You’re going to want to show off.