Leg Day is more than a great hashtag – it’s an opportunity! Fitness is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out, and nothing provides a better opportunity to invest in your gains more than training legs. Look, I started working out in 1986, did my first competition in 1995, and still compete in bodybuilding, CrossFit and strength events to this day. During all of those years, I’ve probably gone through a few thousand Leg Days, which has actually lead me to develop some pretty quirky habits.
In this blog, I am not giving you the usual (and overdone) “Top Ten Tips and Tricks for a Better Squat”; instead, I am letting you know the habits that I’ve built over decades of planning, prepping, executing, and recovering from hundreds of thousands of reps of deadlifts, squats, hamstring curls, leg extensions, and lunges I’ve done in the gym.
ALWAYS WEAR HIGH TOP SNEAKERS
Obviously, you are going to be on your feet the entire workout when you are training legs, so the right footwear makes a big difference. When it comes to the “big” exercises (squats and/or leg presses), the added ankle stability that high tops provide is clutch, especially when you are giving everything you’ve got to get that One More Rep! Also, I ALWAYS wear sneakers with a solid sole and ALWAYS AVOID “air” cushioning – because if you lift heavy, the air pockets will develop leaks. The funny thing about that is the fact that those “air shoes” don’t blow-out like a tire on a car; but instead, when you wear them on a rainy day you hear these funny hissing and squeaking sounds. The point of the story is, save your Jordan’s for another day.
DRINK EXTRA WATER IN THE HOURS LEADING UP TO YOUR BIG WORKOUT
It Is no secret that Leg Day is hard. Be hydrated! Not only do you need to avoid cramps, but water helps prevent dry mouth, promotes cardiovascular health, aids in keeping your body cool, and even helps muscles and joints work better (according to published research from One MD Group). All these things position you to put the most effort into your workout, and in the fitness world, effort = results. The only downside to this may be trips to the bathroom, which interrupt the workout, but for me that is a small price to pay for being able to go 110% during the workout.
WEAR EITHER REALLY BIG SHORTS OR REALLY SMALL SHORTS
This one might make some people a little self-conscious, but I am a functionality-first type of person. You need to wear either really big shorts or really small shorts on Leg Day. I am not embarrassed to admit that I am one of those people who pulls the front of my shorts up high when doing squats – and I promise everyone, this is 100% NOT because I am trying to show off. Having any sort of constriction across the thighs not only throws off my form but also triggers mental signals in my brain, making it harder to lift the weight – and who needs to make heavy squats any harder than they already are. You need to find shorts which allow a free and non-constricted range of motion; for me, “short and tight” or “huge and baggy” seem to be the two best options.
THE ONE HACK YOU JUST WON’T BELIEVE…
And before I give you my final hack, I must admit I am little conflicted with this one. I hate the fact that people now-a-days feel the need to document every moment of every workout for social media…but even with that said, I would say DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY TO FILM AN INSTAGRAM VIDEO! Outside trying to flex on social media, watching yourself perform the various leg exercises provides you with a unique opportunity to monitor and improve upon your form. Most importantly, you will create a sense of accountability. No one wants to be a “half squatter” and everyone who has ever squatted knows that you always feel like you’re a lot deeper in the squat than you really are. Just like guys in the NFL “watch film” on Mondays, having some good Instagram footage will help you to get better; I know it has help me.
One parting thought, REAP WHAT YOU SOW! Planning the workouts, putting in 100%, learning from every workout and enjoying the gains is what it is all about!
- CEO Chris Mackenzie