The Leg Day Myth
During my time as a Personal Trainer working in gyms, I was confronted with many misconceptions about adopting and maintaining a fitness routine. In three posts I’d like to share some of the most common misconceptions and the facts behind them. We’ll discover why high intensity exercise isn’t always the answer to progress, why a ridged schedule may not be as successful as a fluid one, and why just two days at the gym could be your key to success. In this post I’ll focus on the 3rd misconception; the leg day myth. This is the idea that the average individual should train like a body builder, breaking up muscle groups and training several days a week.
Why the Myth Exists
Unlike the average individual, bodybuilders are often working toward a very specific goal, like a competition, and usually have a very short time period to achieve it. A body builders training schedule gets more complex when you factor in the 24-48 hours of rest our muscles need after strength training to benefit from the workout. They must work each muscle group as hard as they can one day and then oscillate to another group the next, allowing the first to rest and build back larger than before. This often leads to many days in the gym in order to separate the work and rest periods for each muscle group. It’s a great plan for bodybuilders whose ifestly is focused on bodybuilding. If you’ve got other priorities, this schedule isn’t usually sustainable.
Full Body Routines
Thankfully the average individual participating in strength training for good health doesn’t have the time constraints of preparing for a quickly-approaching bodybuilding contest. Instead, we can focus on building a routine that works well for our lifestyle, allows for flexibility, and works to improve our performance in the activities we do everyday. As a working professional and a coach my favorite way to fit it all in with a busy schedule is a full body routine with multi-joint movements. I always include a pushing and pulling movement, a core focused movement, a hip-dominate movement, and a knee-dominant movement. This way I’m incorporating all muscle groups, working everything in as little as 45 minutes, twice a week, with a day of rest in between.
A few tips for success when developing and maintaining your next fitness routine:
- The most successful routine is one that will challenge you appropriately so you see improvement in your overall health but also want to keep coming back for more
- A susessful fitness routine will work with your lifestyle and allow for flexibility
- A successful fitness routine will work to improve your performance in activities of daily living
- Full body routines with multi-joint exercises offer the opportunity to work everything in short sessions, just twice a week