For many gym-goers, leg days are ferocious. While there’s nothing worse than a pair of dreaded chicken legs, there’s no denying how intense a tough leg day can be. Squats are essential for increasing strength and muscle mass, so many people wonder if they should complete squats at the beginning of their leg day.
Squats don’t have to be your first exercise during your leg day, but you should do them early. Squats are difficult, require a lot of energy, and the performer needs peak concentration. That’s particularly the case if you plan to incorporate deadlifts into your leg day exercises.
During the rest of this article, I’ll elaborate on why gym patrons should begin with squats on their leg days.
Why Should I Do Squats?
Some things in life are non-negotiable. For instance, if you want your car to go, you have to fill it up with gas (or electricity). The same applies to your legs – if you want them to get bigger and stronger, you’ll need to do some squats.
Incorporating squats into your workout has many benefits. It’s an intense compound movement that engages many muscles in your body and strengthens your entire lower body, particularly your quadriceps and glutes.
Squats help build bone density and reduce the risk of picking up injuries. They also promote testosterone production and boost metabolism because they place more pressure on your body.
How Many Leg Exercises Should I Do per Workout Session?
This difficult question can confuse seasoned gym rats and newbies equally. As a rule of thumb in fitness, simplicity is best, be it the choice of exercises, fitness equipment, or supplements. Leg day should be no different, with a focus on the basic movements typically offering the highest reward.
Some people believe that only sticking to squats can have the same effects on leg muscle growth as doing various other activities simultaneously. However, there’s ample research to disprove that theory. Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about those research results. There are also a few valuable tips on the types of exercises you should do for your legs:
An optimal leg day should incorporate three to five exercises. This allows you to focus intensely on each movement, doing plenty of sets with the correct range of movement. An individual should aim to achieve three to four sets for each exercise.
To keep things really simple, anybody who sticks to the ‘Holy Trinity’ of leg exercises will see results over time. An individual should incorporate squats, deadlifts, and lunges into their leg workout to build strength. While this combination may appear to be overly simple, it’s very effective.
Why You Should Squat Before Deadlifting
You may think the sequence of these exercises shouldn’t matter too much. After all, they’re both extraordinarily intense, and they’ll both leave your legs and glutes sizzling. However, your leg workouts should begin with squats rather than deadlifts. Here’s why:
Firstly, deadlifts will leave you more fatigued than squats will. The explosive movement required to lift the bar off the ground places huge demands on both the legs and spine. A quirk of leg workouts is that deadlifts will always leave you tired for squats, but squats may not always leave you tired for deadlifts. Deadlifts are the ultimate finisher, but starting with them may detract from your performance in other exercises.
Within a sporting context, squats before deadlifts are the same as dinner before dessert. In other words, it’s a sequence of events accepted by everybody and never questioned. Powerlifting is the reason that this has become the case.
Powerlifting competitions consist of a squat, bench press, and deadlift. Within these competitions, the squat is always the first exercise that the athletes complete. In life, we usually trust experts’ opinions, and the fitness industry is no different.
There’s also a safety element to consider. A survey conducted in 2018 showed 43% of powerlifting injuries occur due to performing the squatting exercise. The exercise is a complex compound movement that engages several different muscle groups. The lower back and the knee are the body parts most frequently injured during squats. These injuries are very painful and may also take weeks or months to recover from.
The US Army has compiled a report detailing a list of common reasons why squats can lead to injuries. Some of them are quite logical, such as using incorrect movements, lifting too much weight, or performing too many reps. Others may be less obvious, such as chronic muscle fatigue from training without sufficient rest periods. In addition, injuries may occur if somebody strengthens their legs but neglects their core muscles.
Does the Order of Exercise Affect the Workout Difficulty?
It’s hard to say that the order of exercises affects the overall workout difficulty. What can be said is that the order of exercises is important and should be tailored to an individual’s strength and fitness goals.
The order of exercises is critical when constructing a workout plan. It’s an underappreciated aspect of the gym, with many of us being guilty of aimlessly moving between machines.
To make sense of this, think about the ways in which completing one exercise will affect the completion of another. Workout structures will affect the following things:
- The weight you can lift.
- The number of sets you can perform.
- The number of reps you can complete within a set.
- How much rest you’ll need to take between sets.
- The quality of your technique.
- How well you can control the movement.
If you complete the most challenging exercise at the beginning of your workout, then the quality of your other exercises may suffer. Nevertheless, there’s an alternative school of thought. Logically, your energy levels will be at their highest at the start of the workout.
Therefore, some personal trainers have argued that the most challenging workout should be performed at the beginning, particularly if it’s a high priority in your training program.
How Do I Recover From an Intense Leg Day?
We all want to channel our inner Dwayne Johnson, but resting is also crucial for reaching our fitness goals. Doing the right things outside the gym will maximize the value of your work in it.
If you’re feeling the burn, it’s essential to listen to your body and take some rest. Using fitness accessories like a foam roller can be very useful for reducing muscle soreness. Further heavy lifting with legs should be avoided, but light walks and gentle movements are encouraged.
Almost everybody has heard the cliché that abs are made in the kitchen. While it makes you roll your eyes, it’s true. It’s essential to take the correct amount of protein to recover after workouts, which sports supplements can assist. But while protein is the holy grail, the proper blend of macro and micronutrients is pivotal for strength building.
Gym goers should make a point of consuming balanced meals filled with organic food. Just remember, a car won’t move without the right fuel in the tank.
Based on our research, it’s clear that you should perform squats first during your leg day.
Squats are complex compound movements that use multiple muscle groups and provide numerous health benefits. They also require intense focus, concentration, and coordination, meaning that they should be performed when energy levels are at their highest.
A gym-goer can perform squats and deadlifts during the same workout. The Powerlifting community has recognized that squats should be performed before deadlifts, as it helps to avoid injuries and maximize the efficacy of both exercises.
- Jump Start by WebMD: Health Benefits of Squats
- Healthline: How to Design a Leg Workout Using The 15 Best Exercises
- Wellneos: Why is deadlift so tiring?
- NCBI: Prevalence and Consequences of Injuries in Powerlifting: A Cross-Sectional Study
- APHC: Weight-Training Injuries: Squat
- Human Kinetics: Utilise Proper Workout Structure And Exercise Order