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Why you need to train your legs regularly

Strong legs are not only important for footballers but for each and every one of us, so train them well

The most used muscles in the body are in our legs (Pexels)

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Football fever is on the rise as the World Cup knockout stages approach, and there is no reason to change the theme even though we are talking about fitness here. So, we shall focus on the most important work tool of footballers worldwide — legs. However, strong legs are not only important for footballers, they are also a prerequisite for each and every one of us, even in our day-to-day life and tasks. “The most used muscles in the body are in our legs. We need them in almost everything we do, and almost all sports and exercises involve leg muscles,” says Gautam Dagar, Delhi-based former Indian rugby captain and fitness coach. 

While athletes need to work on foot speed and quick movements apart from strengthening their legs, most people would just need to focus on improving mobility, range of motion and strength as “legs are the foundation of optimal strength in the human body,” says Rahul Huidrom, strength coach at Cult.fit.  For working on foot speed and quick reflex actions, you need to include rope work, ladder drills and running and stepping exercises with cones with several quick changes of directions. To build strength, strength training is the obvious choice, and you could do it both with your body weight as well as with weights. 

Also read: Why professional athletes always strength train

A “leg day” might leave you sore, but it has a whole lot of benefits other than giving your body a stronger foundation and helping you more freely and efficiently. “Working on your lower body improves stability and mobility while developing your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Leg exercises also build muscles around joints, thereby strengthening them,” says Sandeep Sachdev, coach, nutritionist and co-founder of Easy Human fitness studio and cafe in Mumbai. Since most body weight and free weight leg exercises are complex movements, lower body workouts build overall functional strength, significantly improving strength in the upper body, too, Sachdev points out. “Right from improving athletic performance to becoming faster, a good leg workout can surely make all the difference to your fitness goals,” he adds.         

Since the leg muscles (glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves) are among the largest muscle groups in the body, when you work these, you burn calories more effectively not only while working out but all day long, says Sachdev. “When you work on bigger muscles, you end up requiring more energy, which also means that you burn more calories. Of course, how much you burn depends on whether you are training using only your body weight or weights,” he adds. 

A good leg workout routine can have many variations. All exercise, Sachdev says, is based on the principles of frequency, intensity, time and type. “Anyone doing bodyweight or light weight leg workouts should take shorter rest intervals and would either train on the principle of reps for time or in HIIT format like Tabata. When training with weights, the focus is usually on load, reps, sets and recovery time.” No matter what you prefer, leg days are not to be skipped.

Also read: Why you should be working on your rear delts

Sandeep Sachdev’s leg workout routines

Workout 1 (Bodyweight or light weights recommended)

15 Wide Squats at 2:2

10 Wide Squats at 3:3

5 Wide Squats at 4:4

15 Mid Squats at 2:2

10 Mid Squats at 3:3

5 Mid Squats at 4:4

15 Narrow Squats at 2:2

10 Narrow Squats at 3:3

5 Narrow Squats at 4:4

20 Back Lunges at 2:2 

20 Front Lunges at 2:2 

20 Back Lunges at 2:2 

20 Front Lunges at 2:2 

20 Curtsy Lunges at 1:1 

20 Calf Raises at 2:1:2 

20 Curtsy Lunge at 1:1 

20 Calf Raises at 2:1:2 

*2:2 means down in 2 counts, up in 2 counts 

*2:1:2 means up in 2 counts, hold for 1 count, down in 2 

 

Workout 2 (Bodyweight or light weights recommended)

Curtsy Lunge

Wide Squats 

Bulgarian Split Squat (each leg)

Round House Kicks (each leg) 

Leg Raise 

High Knee to Back Lunge (each leg)

Hip Raises 

Three Point Lunge Squat

High Knees 

Wide Squat Hold (count the time as per set)

Set 1: 40 each 

Set 2: 20 each 

Set 3: 15 each 

 

Workout 3

Three sets of 10 reps each

Wide Squats + Single Leg Hop + Wide Squats 

High Knee to Lunge Back (L) + Sprint + High Knee to Lunge Back (R) 

Front Lunge (L) + Jumping Jacks + Front Lunge (R) 

In-to-Out + High Knees + In- to- Out 

1 Squat to 1 Back Lunge + Skipping + 1 Squat to 1 Back Lunge

Bulgarian Squat (L) + Skaters + Bulgarian Squat (R) 

Lunge Pulse (L) + Narrow Squats + Lunge Pulse (R) 

 

Workout 4

Tabata (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest)

Front Kicks + Skull Crusher

Butt Kicks + Duck Walk 

High Knees + Curtsy Lunge

Bulgarian Squats (Alternate)

Squat Jumps + Skaters  

Leg Raises + Hip Raises 

1 Back Lunge to 2 Front Kick (Alternate)

3 squats + 3 front lunges  

 

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness

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