Ah, leg day. The most favorite day for all personal trainers and the most hated day for all clients. The legs can be some of the hardest muscles to build but the most satisfying when sculpted. This is the reason that most trainers love hitting the legs, and hitting them hard. We have all seen memes depicting leg day and the pain that comes with it. There are images of people crawling out of the gym because they have destroyed their legs from a great workout. Personally, I love the feeling the day after leg day. Muscle soreness, hard to get up, the waddle of the first steps of walking, …love it. Before we work on the legs, let’s understand the legs.
The quadriceps femoris is a group of muscles located in the front of the thigh. Quadriceps, which means “four heads”, contains four separate muscles: the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. The quadriceps assist in extending the knee. Since these muscles are used often for walking, running, jumping, squatting and other physical activities, the quadriceps are prone to injuries including strains, tears and ruptures.
The hamstrings are located on the back on the leg between the hip and the knee. The hamstrings consist of semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris long & short head. They flex or bend the knee. The hamstrings are extremely susceptible to injury.
The glutes are made up of three different muscle: glute maximus, medius and minimus. The functions of muscles include extension, abduction, external and internal rotation of the hip joint. The gluteus maximus also supports the extended knee through the iliotibial tract.
The calf consists of two muscle: gastrocnemius and the soleus. During walking, running, or jumping, the calf muscle pulls the heel up to allow forward movement.
Now that we understand the muscle and how they work, there are many methods of lifting when it comes to legs. Some lift quads and calves one day and hamstrings and glutes the other. Other lift every part of the legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves) on the same day. Whatever your belief system (there is no right or wrong), check out the video below for the MUST exercises that should be incorporated into EVERY leg workout routine.