There’s no way around it: I have a love/hate relationship with leg day. If I’m honest with myself, my legs are my strongest muscle group. I have mega power thighs, and I was naturally given a backside that pops (who knew, in the grunge-chic 90’s, that I’d be pleased by this someday?!?). My lower half responds quickly to lifting, which is nice. It also responds quickly to running…which makes me really lazy about leg day.
That said, I still like to keep my hand in and squat and deadlift sometimes, mostly because they’re not just isolated leg lifts–they’re compound, full-body lifts that require the help of several muscle systems, and I like compound lifts. I think they’re beneficial for the body. So I try and throw in a leg day a couple of times a month, at least.
- Decline Crunch – you will hate these at first, and then you will love me. I promise.
- Kettlebell Goblet Squat. These are a great squat option if you don’t have a barbell and a spotter, because you can throw a fair amount of weight and still replicate the approximate motion of a back squat. I chuck 60-80 lbs on a dumbbell rather than using a kettlebell, but either works.
- Single Leg Deadlift from Box – these may seem a little fussy until you actually try them, and then the movement seems pretty natural. But they are punishing–much moreso than a regular deadlift. They will kick your butt (and hips and quads and hams).
- Kettlebell Thruster – again, heavy dumbbells work here.
- Barbell Side Split Squat – there’s no reason you can’t do this with two dumbbells, but the leg movement is a surprisingly good workout – you may not need much weight at all.
- Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise
Lifting usually takes me about 25 minutes. I’ll be honest and tell you that I often skip any kind of interval training on leg day because my legs are DONE. So, bonus: it’s a quick workout. I’m usually totally wiped out by the end, but feel free to adapt however you’d like.
I use 30-80 lbs of weight on leg day, usually on one dumbbell. This is just a reference point, and you may want less or more. Keep in mind that I’ve been lifting for a couple of years. What’s important is choosing the right weight for you, focusing on proper form with those weights, releasing each lift slowly, and making sure you’re using enough weight that your muscles are failing in the last few reps. You should see great results!
If you have questions, comments or suggestions, let me know!