Leg day, by far, is my favorite exercise day of the week. I usually do two a week, 2-4 days apart. I wish I had a more regimented schedule, but this season of life calls for a more flexible workout schedule. There’s 3 parts to a successful leg day: warmup/stretch, activation, compound lifts/accessory/both, and roll/stretch.
Warmup/Stretch. Basic ballet movements such as pliés will warm up the muscles in your legs. It’s also nice to just feel the music and make fluid movements to gear up for a heavy lift. Another warmup I like doing is jumping rope. I do 4 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible). After the warmup, it’s time to stretch in preparation for my lifts. I like doing air squats in sumo position as well as air deadlifts in front of the mirror to make sure my form is on point. A well executed lift with lighter weights is better than a badly executed one with heavier weights. Your form determines if you’ll get the benefits of the lift vs an injury.
Activation. It is difficult to grow a muscle you have not activated. Before my main lifts, I like to activate my hamstrings and glutes with band exercises using body weight. This way, I know to use the mind-muscle connection created by these exercises so I can focus on using them while lifting.
Compound Lifts. Compound lifts are movements that use two or more joints. Squats, glute bridges, and deadlifts are great examples and are the backbone of my leg days. I always start with glute bridges as that is my favorite movement and I think is the main exercise that grew my glutes. Be sure to use a barbell pad for maximum comfort. I then follow with sumo squats then sumo deadlifts. All these I do in a squat rack. Accessory Lifts. These are movements that isolate muscle groups and are smaller movements in general. These are great for targeting a specific muscle. The machines at the gym are great for these types of lifts.
Roll/Stretch. Mybest friend after leg day is a foam roller. I love doing this after leg day to “break” the muscle to let out trapped lactic acid that will surely be painful the following days (DOMS aka delayed onset muscle soreness). This is key to faster recovery. As always, stretch for increased flexibility.
For more guidance, here are a few YouTubers I followed when I was learning: Whitney Simmons, Robin Gallant, and Maryana Dvorska.
Leg days are definitely the longest days at the gym, but is so rewarding and fun at the same time.