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Legs Day or Legs Days? Which is Right for your Workout Program?

If you’re like a lot of people one of your New Year’s resolutions may be to get in better shape. Even if you’re already in good shape and visit the gym regularly, you may be planning to set new goals or take your workouts to another level. If you fall into the second group, then this article just might be for you.

Leg press

If you’re like a lot of people one of your New Year’s resolutions may be to get in better shape. Even if you’re already in good shape and visit the gym regularly, you may be planning to set new goals or take your workouts to another level. If you fall into the second group, then this article just might be for you.

As someone who works out at the gym 6+ days a week, I face a regular challenge of getting into a rut with my workouts and hitting a plateau in my results. It’s natural, as most humans like routine and we tend to form habits that then become easier to follow over time.

This happens in workouts too, where we get into a routine of doing the same workouts each week. You blink and realize you’ve been doing the same exercises for each muscle group for months. While you may be getting stronger, your body is also simply becoming more efficient at those specific movements. One of the best ways to get results in your workout is to mix things up and keep your muscles a bit confused. 

One of the areas I decided to change up to kick off the year is my Legs Day. Most regular gym visitors have a love/hate relationship with Legs Day. It can be one of the most physically demanding workout days of the week, and for most people legs simply aren’t their favorite body part to train.

But, that doesn’t mean you should just create a set-it-and-forget-it Legs Day routine. In fact, if you really want to mix it up and perhaps develop those leg muscles a bit more, you might consider 2 Legs Days per week.

Below is the new Legs Days plan I am putting into place for the beginning of 2022. Take a look and see if any of this resonates with you and inspires a change to your own workouts. As always, please consult a physician before taking on a new workout program, especially one that might be more strenuous than you are used to. 

So, I’m old-school in that I like to separate body parts in my workouts. So, a normal sequence for me would be: Chest, Shoulders, Legs 1, Back, Bis/Tris, Legs 2. This gets me through a sequence in 6 days. Give me one rest day and I’m back at it.  I also tend to shoot for 12-15 reps on regular sets, a lower number (6-8) if I’m going very heavy, and occasionally a higher number (25+) if I want to have a lighter day, with high reps. 

Dumbbells
Dumbbells

Legs Day 1

I’m a big believer in supersets (doing multiple exercises one after the other, without a break for each set). So, Legs Day 1 has quite a few.  

Superset 1 – 4 Sets

  • Leg Press: Regular Stance – Just about every gym has at least 1 leg press machine (and usually several), so take your pick as to which one you like for these exercises.  For this one, use a more or less shoulder-width stance on the leg press pad. Try to get as full reps as you can. 
  • Calf Raises: Straight – Using the leg press and the same weight, do a set of standard calf raises. 
  • Lunges: Alternating Body Weight – Now step out of the leg press machine and do a set of alternating lunges. 

Superset 2 – 4 Sets

  • Leg Press: Narrow Stance – Now use the same leg press machine, but position your fee together.  You may find you need to lower the weight just a bit, but possibly not. 
  • Calf Raises: Toes Pointed Inward – Same deal as the previous calf raises, but shift your feet so your toes are pointing inward. 
  • Lunges: Pulsing Body Weight – This time, do your lunges with just pulses on one side and then the other. 

Superset 3 – 4 Sets

  • Leg Press: One Legged – Definitely lower the weight on this one, but try to keep it challenging. Use only one leg at a time to do execute your leg press reps. 
  • Calf Raises: Toes Pointed Outward (4 sets) – One last type of calf raises, this time point your toes outward, like a ballet stance. It may feel awkward, but it hits your calves just a bit differently.   
  • Lunges: Smith Machine (or barbell) (4 sets) – Now find a Smith Machine or grab a barbell and perform 4 sets of lunges, with the bar on your shoulders.
  • Front Squats: Barbel – Last up, find a barbell and possibly a squat rack, and place the bar on your crossed arms in front of your chest. You will definitely do less weight on this exercise than a normal squat. Make sure to get your balance right, as it can be awkward to have the weight in this position. 

Legs Day 2

For Day 2, we don’t have any supersets and we’re hitting some different leg muscles, while repeating a few others. 

  • Hamstring Curls: Standing – Hopefully your gym has a standing hamstring curl machine, but if not, you’ll want to skip this one and see if there is a seated hamstring curl machine option. Shoot for 4 sets. 
  • Hamstring Curls: Prone – I have yet to find a gym that doesn’t have one of these old-school hamstring curl machines, so hopefully you will have one. Again, we’ll shoot for 4 sets. 
  • Calf Raises: Seated – Calves are hard to build, so we’re hitting them on both days. Most gyms have a seated calf raise machine, so we’ll use that for this exercise. Again, 4 sets. 
  • Good Mornings – These are best done on a squat rack with little or no weight on the barbell. Place it on your shoulder (behind your head) and then stretch your arms out along the bar. With luck, you may be able to grab any weights you do put on the ends, but otherwise, just get your hands/arms into a comfortable position. Step back from the rack with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at your waist, keeping your legs straight, until you execute a bow where your upper body is more or less perpendicular with the floor.  Go very slowly and you’ll quickly realize why you don’t need much weight. Go for 4 sets. 
  • Straight Leg Deadlifts – You can use a barbell, dumbbells, or something like a trap bar, but in each case, execute a good deadlift. Keep your legs straight (no cheating) and complete 4 sets. 
  • Hip Thrusts: One Legged – Last but not least, find a box or bench where you and lay with your shoulders on it, your knees bent 90 degrees with feet on the floor. So, your torso should be basically flat and perpendicular to the floor. Now lift one leg and then let your body pivot toward the floor until your butt almost touches the gound and then push up with that one leg that is still on the floor. Complete 4 sets with each leg. You can do this with body weight or pick up a plate and hold it on your abdomen.

That’s it!  Legs Days!