T Nation

Is There Really Less Emphasis on Legs?

I’ve read a bunch of training program articles recently, and there’s this trend that I believe legs just don’t get enough training in these programs, despite there being more muscle. For example, I just read an article that had you choose 6 exercises:

upper body horizontal push
upper body horizontal pull
upper body vertical push
upper body vertical pull
hip dominant
quad dominant

Now it may be because I’m a neurotic math geek, but that’s x2 volume upper body than lower. Even a lot of programs I see today it goes:

Mon: chest bi
Tues: shoulder tri
Thurs: legs
Fri: back/traps

A LEG DAY? This program is advocating 3 upper-body days and 1 lower body day? I dunno…the only rationale I see behind that is that it breaks down to

Mon: front core
Tues: upper appendages
Thurs: lower appendages
Fri: rear core

I just don’t know…I guess this is just a rant that we need more leg focus in our programs. Does anyone agree/understand me?

I think this is pretty much because the upper body requires much more variety to get the stimulus you can get with rather few exercises for the legs.

Also, remember that the back day includes parts of the legs (glutes, hams) if you do deadlifts or similar exercises.

I think that’s right anyway.

[quote]Zund wrote:
I think this is pretty much because the upper body requires much more variety to get the stimulus you can get with rather few exercises for the legs.

Also, remember that the back day includes parts of the legs (glutes, hams) if you do deadlifts or similar exercises.

I think that’s right anyway.[/quote]

Good points.

Plus, lot of the BB’ing templates have so much volume on leg day that 1 week is just barely enough to recover from one session, let alone two.

Some templates for sport training only have one leg day too, but that’s taking into account the sport practice the athletes would be doing.

I would echo what Zund is saying about upper body training and the need for more variety than lower body training, and I would also add that people train this way in the real world and get results, and you can’t really argue with that.

Maybe this looks imbalanced “on paper” but this is what bodybuilding has arrived at after decades of trial and error, and it works.

If people are getting the results they want and the legs are growing just like everything else, why should they be putting more emphasis on them in the program? So that it all balances out on a spreadsheet?

This is just my perspective.

For upper body, you have chest, back, traps, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. For lower body, quads, hams, and calves. It would make sense to have more days devoted to covering upper body as it has more muscle groups to train.

I don’t find it that hard to make my legs grow, at least not my right leg. My left leg is a little sluggish because of an old knee problem, but I’ve added 1.25" to my left leg and 1" to my right in the last two months doing just squats and single leg presses with the most my left leg can handle for reps.

If I do anymore than that, my right leg grows like a weed. I’m just giving my left leg time to catch up.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anybody having trouble making their legs grow if they were doing squats and leg presses heavy enough, though…

I read that squats and deadlifts alone can be responsible for 50% of a persons gains. So shouldn’t they be about 50% of any program?

It never makes sense to me, when I see these guys in the gym, that squat 135 maybe 1-2x per month, but they are spending 2 hours on an arm workout.

Im cutting now, and Ive noticed my legs are actually getting bigger. What im doing, is working my legs heavy, front squats, and snatches in the 3 rep range. Then, all my HIIT involves the legs and lasts anywhere from 4-9 minutes.

TABATA bike sprints or 10 minutes of intervals on a treadmill at max incline seems to be very beneficial for increasing leg size.

[quote]dankid wrote:
I read that squats and deadlifts alone can be responsible for 50% of a persons gains. So shouldn’t they be about 50% of any program?[/quote]

I’m not sure what you’re saying, but the reason for why squats and deadlifts make you gain the most are because they are the heaviest exercises to perform.

Are you saying 50% of workouts should have either squats or deadlifts in them, or that every other exercise should be either squats or deadlifts?

With option 1, that shouldn’t be too far off. Everyone I know have squats and deadlifts on separate days, and noone I know trains more than five days a week, so it’s either 2/4=50% of days, or 2/5 days, which is also pretty close.

Option two I don’t think would work very well for a bodybuilder.

Apologies if I missed something obvious - English isn’t my first language!

Im just saying that if in a typical week, your doing 15 minutes of squats and deadlifts, but you spend 4 hours working your upper body, something is wrong.

There should be a fairly equal amount of focus between the two. Equal number of exercises, sets, reps, time, days, whatever.

I’d go as far as to say you should have more focus on squats, deadlifts, and legs than upper body. But this would include cardio as well.

These are just generalities, but really something is truly wrong, when someone is pressing more weight than they can squat or deadlift, which is a very common site in the average gym.

perhaps you should have directed this thread to recreational-bench-n-curl.com and not a bodybuilding website where simple things like being able to squat more than you bench are too obvious to require being stated.

I do legs once aweek (but I hit my hams on back day) I dont know about most of you guys but I cant do legs more than once a week. Ill do squats(back and front) leg press and lunges. By the time leg day comes back around Im just starting to walk normal again.

If you feel like you need to do legs more than once a week then thats good for you but not for everyone else.

To end, in a average gym it is a fairly uncommon thing to see ppl doing squats or deads and if you do see ppl doing them it is vary poorly or just completely wrong.

My upper to lower ratio is 2:1.

Upper body can push and pull, legs just push.

Interesting perspectives, but I guess what I’m wondering is why the lack of breaking legs down into hip and quad dominant days? Is the deadlift as effective for the back that you can consolidate the two into a back day? Plus, I understand that it may require more variety for the upper body, but there’s more MUSCLE in the lower body, so wouldn’t you need more work more often to stimulate more muscle?

It’s because, unless you are doing leg extensions or leg curls, you are using compound lifts like squats or DL. Leg compound lifts hit a lot more muscles than upper body compound lifts. So that is why you don’t need to do as many exercises. You have to do more reps/sets, but not exercises.

Legs can and should be broken down into different exercises, or even different days.

Front squats
Deadlifts
Snatch
RDL
Stepups
Calf raises

They are all very different and if done correctly you should be able to handle two leg days. Sure the upper body can push AND pull, but the lower body can do similar movements.

You could have one day that is:

Front squat
Lunges
Standing calf raises

And another day that is

Deadlift
Reverse lunges
RDL

But most people dont want to spend the time or effort doing this so they work their upper body more.

To the OP, try putting more emphasis on you lower body and see what results you get.

Obviously you should not have crappy leg workouts, but no programs on this site are ever laid out with Crappy Leg Day, followed by Intense Curl Day. Yes, some people do that, but they have bigger problems than their program choice.

[quote]dankid wrote:
Legs can and should be broken down into different exercises, or even different days.

Front squats
Deadlifts
Snatch
RDL
Stepups
Calf raises

They are all very different and if done correctly you should be able to handle two leg days. Sure the upper body can push AND pull, but the lower body can do similar movements.

You could have one day that is:

Front squat
Lunges
Standing calf raises

And another day that is

Deadlift
Reverse lunges
RDL

But most people dont want to spend the time or effort doing this so they work their upper body more.

To the OP, try putting more emphasis on you lower body and see what results you get.[/quote]

[i]
Most top body builders do not break legs into multiple days and use the volume of different exercises you are suggesting. The reason is that many of these exercises use almost exactly the same muscle groups, and some are less effecting at recruiting maximal muscle motor units because or their leverage and other factors.

So for the most muscle most body builders stick with exercises that stimulate the most muscle tissue.

And if you actually do this you will find that there is no possible way you can training legs a second day. They are just too wiped to do that level of work twice per week. [/i]

Lots of people do undertrain their legs, as most don’t realise the potential of the lower body.

I doubt their are many people who push themselves so hard that they are physically unable to work their legs more than once a week.

[quote]Mr. Strong wrote:
Lots of people do undertrain their legs, as most don’t realise the potential of the lower body.

I doubt their are many people who push themselves so hard that they are physically unable to work their legs more than once a week.

[/quote]

[i]
Being unable is not really the issue. There are lots of things you can do, the question is should you? If you train any body part again before it is fully recovered you are wasting your time and the resulting workout will not help you progress.

Remember, it is when you are NOT training that you actually grow and get stronger. So the more you cut into this time the less long term progress you will make. It is a fine balance between training and recovery.

[/i]

If you wait until you are fully recovered you could be waiting weeks, or even months, if you train very hard.

You should be aiming to train each bodypart as frequently as possible, without causing overtraining.