If you’ve spent much time around a gym at all, you’ve probably seen people who obviously put a lot of time and energy into working out their upper body. Ripped abs, biceps, lats, and pecs abound. They look great, until you look down and see relatively scrawny legs. Whether or not leg day is your favorite, leg workouts are key to staying healthy.
Burn Additional Calories
It’s no secret that working out burns calories. The calorie burning benefits of leg workouts extend beyond the workout though. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Since leg workouts build muscle, they help you increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day as well. There are a lot of muscles in your legs. In fact, both the largest and longest muscles, the glutes and sartorius muscles, respectively, in the human body are found below your waste. Take advantage of the opportunity to burn some serious calories by building up the muscle in your legs.
Strong leg muscles are an essential part of healthy living. You rely on your leg muscles to get you through your day without even thinking about it. The stronger your leg muscles are, the more you are able to rely on them for power or just getting around without feeling fatigued. Stronger leg muscles help you perform better in other forms of exercise as well. This allows you to reap the benefits of having worked the muscles in your legs and the other forms of exercise you participate in. As such, this can lead to improved cardiovascular health and overall fitness.
Your veins are the blood vessels responsible for returning deoxygenated blood to your heart so it can send it to your lungs to be reoxygenated. This allows your blood to transport cellular waste in the form of carbon dioxide to your lungs for expulsion. As you age, your veins can develop diseases that exercise can help prevent. They can become weaker and the valves found periodically along their length can become compromised, reducing their effectiveness at returning blood to your heart. Exercising your legs helps increase their ability to provide support to your veins. It also helps prevent atherosclerosis from developing, which further promotes the health of your veins.
Balance, strength, stability, and mobility all play a role in preventing injuries, whether they come from working out or your normal activities throughout the day. Working out your legs allows you to improve in all of these areas. Single leg exercises can be especially beneficial in terms of improving your balance, since they can activate muscles in your legs and core. For best results, don’t stick to just using machines as you work out your legs. Improving your balance requires your muscles to work in harmony with one another, which can’t happen if they aren’t being properly activated because you’re sitting or lying down. The same is true of your ability to build stability. Some of your most vulnerable joints are found in your legs. Knees and ankles are fairly mobile joints, which means they aren’t as stable as less mobile joints. Strengthening your leg muscles helps stabilize these joints, reducing your risk of injuring them.
Balancing Your Muscles
Most people have a dominant leg. While that isn’t inherently a bad thing, if your dominant leg is allowed to develop at a rate that outpaces your other leg, this leads to muscle imbalances and their associated problems. Muscle imbalances lead to far more problems than just an unbalanced physique. They can lead to pain and suboptimal performance. It goes beyond just comparing your legs to each other though. Your leg muscles often work in agonist and antagonistic muscle pairs. By working together, these muscle groups allow you to flex and extend your joints. If the muscles within the pairing are unbalanced, you are at a greater risk of injury. Make sure you exercise all the muscles in your leg to get the best results.
Improving Your Posture
Posture starts from the ground up. Strong, stable, balanced leg muscles provide the right foundation for good posture. If you want to have good posture, you need to make sure your glutes are strong enough to support you, and that your hip flexors aren’t so tight that they pull you out of proper alignment. This helps keep your pelvis properly aligned, which protects your spinal posture. The body likes to be balanced. If your postural alignment lends itself towards becoming unbalanced, the body tends to overcorrect to stay balanced. This is often why you see overcompensations in spinal alignments when people are standing still. These overcompensations can cause serious problems down the road, so it’s important to correct your posture early to avoid them.
If you want a healthy, balanced body, you need to work your legs out on a regular basis. Leg workouts help you burn calories, build stronger, more balanced muscles, keep your veins healthy, prevent injury, and protect your posture. As an added bonus, they contribute to a more balanced physique.
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