You’ve probably heard your friendly neighborhood gym bro say you should never skip a leg day. Interrogate him a little on the subject, and he won’t be able to tell you the perils of not training your wheels. Perhaps, he might warn you about developing chicken legs, but that’s the deepest the conversation will go.
Every gym has people that do not train legs. They use the squat rack every day but only as a coathanger. These guys have diced upper bodies, and their cephalic veins are as big as their quads. Their body proportions are so bad that even their baggy sweatpants can’t hide it. You can’t explain how their thin and frail legs can support their muscular upper body. They are a gust away from collapsing under their own weight.
Legs are half your body. Skipping leg workouts has far-reaching consequences for your overall health. T-Rex syndrome, chicken legs, toothpick legs, top-heavy, and light bulb are some of the not-so-kind epithets used for people with tiny lower bodies. Bros with chicken legs are often ridiculed in the gym and turned into memes on the internet.
“Do not skip leg days” has become jargon. Although it is true and carries weight, most lifters have no idea why they should never miss training their lower body. Understanding the significance of training your wheels will ensure you never chicken out on your leg training days.
This article discusses the effects of skipping leg days. We have also included the best leg exercises to add to your exercise arsenal and an effective lower-body workout. Plus, we also reveal when you are allowed to skip a leg workout. So, sit tight and take notes.
13 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip a Leg Workout
- Compromised Aesthetics
- Inferior Strength Gains
- Limited Range of Motion
- Jeopardized Balance and Stability
- Negatively Impacts Longevity
- Psychological Factor
- Increased Injury Risk
- Suboptimal Testosterone Production
- Lowers Fat Burning Potential
- Poor Posture
- Less Core Work
- Hampers Athletic Performance
- Overall Health Effects
- Best Leg Exercises
- An Effective Leg Workout For Building Thunder Thighs
- When To Skip Leg Day
- Wrapping Up
13 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip a Leg Workout
Here are the reasons why skipping leg days is a sin:
Legs are half your body. Training your upper body and skipping leg workouts will create a muscle imbalance, which can hamper your overall appearance. Although the imbalance might initially look minor, making up the difference will become more challenging with time.
Aesthetics are not just for bodybuilders. Underdeveloped legs are the first signs of lower body weakness. Even if you are a CrossFitter or a Strongman, you need proportionate legs to maintain your performance.
Contrary to what most people think, building aesthetics requires more work than doing three sets of squats in your leg workout. You must balance compound and isolation exercises in your training regimen and train your wheels from different angles for overall development.
Inferior Strength Gains
Not training your legs can have a cascading effect on your overall strength. Let’s take powerlifting as an example. Skipping your leg workouts will not only hamper your squat performance but also negatively impact your deadlift and bench press results.
Although the deadlift is primarily a hip hinge movement, lifting the bar off the ground requires significant leg drive. On the other hand, you cannot overlook the importance of strong legs on the bench press. Powerlifters use their legs to stabilize the bench press and generate more power.
Limited Range of Motion
Performing lower body exercises like the squat, Romanian deadlift, and leg press requires optimal mobility to follow a full range of motion. You won’t recognize the need to work on your mobility if you skip leg workouts.
“How do I check if I have good lower body mobility?”
Can you perform an “ass to the grass” squat or touch your quads to your chest on the leg press while maintaining proper form? If not, you have poor mobility.
Improved lower body mobility will carry over to other compound exercises like the clean and jerk, snatch, and thrusters.
Jeopardized Balance and Stability
Why is the leaning tower of Pisa leaning?
It is because of a shallow foundation.
Legs are our foundation. Skipping leg workouts leads to a disproportionate physique, causing balance and stability issues while performing compound exercises or daily activities. And guess what? You can’t fix these stability issues by wearing a baggy jogger.
If you have trouble maintaining balance while performing lunges, it is a sign you have a lagging foundation. You must perform a combination of lower body compound and isolation exercises to improve your balance and stability.
Negatively Impacts Longevity
Legs and lower back are among the first muscle groups to go in elderlies. It tells us that these are the weakest muscle group for most people. Not training your legs compounds this issue. Furthermore, a 2018 study found that weighted squats, hack squats, leg presses, hip extension, hip adduction, knee extension, and hamstring curls are effective at increasing bone mineral density. 
Lifting heavy on your leg day can help keep your bones strong and healthy, improving longevity. You must, however, switch to more conservative weights as you grow older. Lifting too heavy in old age can strain your joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Leg workouts test you physically and mentally. Many lifters bail on lower body workouts owing to the fear of squats and deadlifts. Failing on a heavy squat, deadlift, or leg press is much scarier than failing on dumbbell presses or barbell shrugs.
Skipping leg days saves you mental torture; more than the physical hardship, it is why most lifters call in sick or sore on their lower body training days. You must go hard and heavy on your leg days to build mental toughness.
This new-earned mental fortitude will carry over to every aspect of your life. No obstacle will have the power to keep you down, no matter how big and heavy. You will always rise out of the hole and do it for reps!
Increased Injury Risk
You might be avoiding training legs to lower your risk of injury. However, skipping leg days is one of the most effective ways to increase your injury odds while training. Lower back and lower body injuries are the most common injuries during training.
Lower body exercises like the squat, RDL, and lunges are full-body movements that help strengthen your posterior chain and lower body. Working on your lower body using a mix of unilateral and bilateral compound and isolation lifts will help you build a balanced physique.
A balanced physique prevents your stronger side from compensating for the weaker side, which is the cause of many injuries. Staying consistent with your leg training workouts is essential for lowering injury risk.
Suboptimal Testosterone Production
Studies have shown that lower-body resistance training exercises can help boost natural testosterone levels . Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for regulating bone mass, muscle mass and strength, sex drive (libido), fat distribution, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
Furthermore, compound lifts such as the squat and deadlift also spike growth hormone (HGH) production, which can help with overall strength and muscle mass gains. Upper-body workouts help build upper-body muscles, whereas lower-body workouts help with overall growth. Upper-body resistance training has nowhere near the test-boosting benefits as lower body exercises.
Lowers Fat Burning Potential
Lower-body training demands much more energy than upper-body workouts. It is why you feel exhausted after a leg training session, whereas your arms workouts might feel like a walk in the park.
But why do we burn more energy during our leg workouts, you ask?
Legs are the biggest muscle group in our body. Glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves make up half your body. Training all these muscle groups in the same workout requires significantly more energy than the upper-body muscle groups.
If you have a lagging lower body, you should split your leg workouts into two. You should focus on your quads and calves on one day and your hamstrings and glutes on the second day. Ensure that there is at least a two-day gap between these two workouts.
Hunching over your phone or computer screen for most of the day can lead to poor posture. Things can get even worse if you have a desk job and a sedentary lifestyle.
Training your lower body engages your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, which can help maintain proper hips, pelvis, and lower spine alignment. Weak lower body muscles can lead your pelvis to tilt forward or backward, causing poor posture.
Compound exercises like the squat and lunge require bracing your core throughout the movement. It can help stabilize your spine and reduce the risk of slouching or rounding your shoulders. Finally, training your lower body promotes better balance, which can help improve your posture.
Less Core Work
Few other exercises engage your core, like the functional lower body movements like the squat, lunge, leg press, and Romanian deadlifts. Squatting with a heavy weight on your back requires you to brace your core throughout the range of motion. Let your core lose for a second, and you’ll feel your midsection turn into jello. This is even more prominent while performing the front squat.
Contrary to what most people think, the benefits of core training are not limited to developing washboard abs. A strong core improves your performance in daily activities, enhances your balance and stability, can fix your posture, and help you lift heavier.
Avoiding leg workouts limits your core training substantially. Lower body training is especially important for people who cannot make time for core training because of their busy schedules.
Hampers Athletic Performance
Athletes cannot afford to skip training legs. Lower body training can improve explosive strength and boost your endurance and stamina, translating to better performance on the field. If you are a pro athlete, leg workouts deserve a special place in your training regimen.
Furthermore, a stronger foundation will improve your agility, resulting in faster sprints, higher jumps, and more powerful movements. It will make you more efficient at tasks that demand changing directions quickly, such as playing basketball, football, or ice skating. This, combined with better balance and stability, will make you unstoppable on the pitch.
Overall Health Effects
Training, in general, is an incredibly effective stress buster. It improves bone density, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, enhances cardiovascular stamina and endurance, and promotes better balance and coordination, lowering the risk of falls and injury. Skipping leg workouts does more harm than good Incorporating leg exercises into your training regimen can help promote overall health and well-being.
Best Leg Exercises
Below are some of the best leg exercises that should be a part of your exercise arsenal:
- Barbell back squat
- Sumo squat
- Front squat
- Romanian deadlift
- Stiff-Legged deadlift
- Leg extension
- Leg curl
- Split squat
- Bulgarian split squat
- Leg press
- Hack squat
- Sissy squat
- Goblet squat
- Pistol squat
- Good morning
- Hip thrust
- Abductor and adductor machine
- Standing calf raise
- Seated calf raise
- Donkey calf raise
An Effective Leg Workout For Building Thunder Thighs
You could use the leg exercises listed in the section above to create hundreds, if not thousands, of leg workouts. Use the leg workout below to fix your lower body weaknesses and bring your wheels on par with your upper body:
|Barbell Back Squat
|Standing Calf Raise
When To Skip Leg Day
This might sound counter-intuitive, but hear us out.
Although leg training should be an indispensable part of your workout regimen, there are times when you should keep your distance from the squat rack. You should skip your leg workouts under the following conditions:
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you are from, or how much you can squat; if you are dealing with a lower-body injury, you should not even think about training your legs.
Training while injured can double your trouble. You must consult your doctor before training if you are dealing with an injury.
Your muscles are vulnerable to greater damage when you’re recovering. You must give your body enough time to heal before starting training again.
Furthermore, you should stop your leg training (or any other workout) if you feel uncomfortable during a workout. It could be a sign that your body is under too much stress and is close to a potential injury.
Folks dealing with muscle imbalances might experience prolonged muscle soreness after training their legs. It is better to delay your leg workout if your legs are so sore that you cannot perform an air squat. Training with extremely sore muscles makes them prone to injury.
However, you must use this reason responsibly. Do not skip a leg workout if you have mild to moderate muscle soreness. Also, skipping here means delaying the session for 2-3 days. You are not supposed to miss the workout for good.
If you train your legs on Saturdays but are too sore to train them this week, you can postpone the workout to the following Monday or Tuesday. You must, however, readjust your training program for that week to ensure you’ll be training legs on Saturday again.
You can postpone your workouts, but that would mean two leg workouts in one week. Unsurprisingly, most people never take up the postponing proposal and stick to their original training regimen.
You should never work out with a compromised immune system. Workouts place significant stress on your immune system. Conversely, your immune system is already fighting infections when you are under the weather. Training while sick makes your immune system work twice as hard, worsening your condition and delaying your recovery.
Furthermore, training while sick can lead to dehydration. Your body is already losing fluids due to the fever. Working out on top of it can lead to sweating, which rids your body of essential electrolytes and other minerals required for a speedy recovery.
You must listen to your body and give it the time it requires to recover while you are sick. Additionally, you should not jump into intense training sessions after recovering from an illness. You must ease into your workouts to give your body ample time to adjust. Shocking your body too soon can compromise your immunity again.
Your legs are your biggest muscle group. You should follow a balanced training approach to ensure overall development. Focusing too much on your quads can lead to a lagging posterior chain and vice versa. Train your wheels from different angles using different exercises for the best results.
As they say, “friends don’t let friends skip leg days.” This is our humble effort to convince you to take your lower body training more seriously. There needs to be a paradigm shift about leg training. Every time you decide to miss a leg session, you’re not missing a muscle group but skipping training half your body. Avoiding a leg workout has far-reaching consequences. It not only hampers your aesthetics but also puts you at a higher risk of injury and hampers your overall health.
Follow a balanced training and nutrition program for better results and overall physique development. Best of luck!
- Benedetti MG, Furlini G, Zati A, Letizia Mauro G. The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 23;2018:4840531. doi: 10.1155/2018/4840531. PMID: 30671455; PMCID: PMC6323511.
- Shaner AA, Vingren JL, Hatfield DL, Budnar RG Jr, Duplanty AA, Hill DW. The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):1032-40. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000317. PMID: 24276305.