DID YOU KNOW ?
Some gym enthusiasts, who regularly include treadmill, elliptical crosstrainer, or stationary bike work-outs in their exercise routines, mistakenly think that this provides sufficient exercise for their leg muscles to keep them well-conditioned and strong. As a consequence, they cut their thigh-training short, or even eliminate it entirely from their weight-training regimen. Yes, we get it: proper thigh-training is tough. However, make no mistake, jogging and other aerobic-type activities are cardio-respiratory exercise, which means that they mainly improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs, if performed with appropriate intensity. The intensity of cardio- exercise is determined by measuring the heart-rate by taking your pulse, whereas the intensity of weight-training is based on the amount of load you lift. Cardio exercise and weight-training have different purposes and different effects. Obviously, exercising on a treadmill, elliptical crosstrainer or stationary bike hardly does anything to increase the strength or size of your thigh muscles; at the most, such activities may improve the endurance of the involved muscle-groups in addition to their cardio-respiratory benefits.
Speaking in weight-training terms, a treadmill, elliptical crosstrainer or stationary bike work-out session consists of one single set of thousands of repetitions – the term “repetitions” here refers to the strides or revolutions performed throughout the cardio-activity -, which are merely executed through a very limited range of motion for thirty minutes or more at a time. However, performing such sets of thousands of lowest intensity partial repetitions for a duration of thirty minutes or longer is not effective to promote muscle-size and strength-gains in the involved muscle-groups.
In order to improve muscle-strength and muscle-size, we have to work our target muscles against adequate weight-resistance for a number of repetitions – usually somewhere between 8-15 reps – for several sets, performed close to momentary muscle-failure and best through the full range of the involved joints’ motion. This will definitely not happen, when just jogging on a treadmill or working out on any other item of cardio- equipment.
Anyone, who neglects their regular thigh-training and eliminates proper resistance exercise for their leg muscles just because it is strenuous, short-changes themselves by losing out on some of the greatest benefits which the gym has to offer, whether related to general health, all-over muscle strength- and muscle size-development, metabolism or body- composition. In fact, regularly training your thighs with heavy compound movements such as squats should be the most important part of your training program, no matter what your training goal may be.
Regularly performing a variety of squats, using adequate weight resistance and volume, will help you with many daily activities, increase your overall balance, improve your core strength, strengthen your bones, bring about big improvements in your overall fitness level, and improve your athletic performance.
Regular thigh-training, relying on weight-loaded squats and other lower- body compound movements, will elicit muscle-growth not only in your thighs, but also in all other lower- and upper-body muscle-groups due to the elevation of testosterone and increased growth-hormone release, which intense leg-exercise stimulates. These anabolic hormones circulate throughout the body, signaling for increased protein synthesis in all areas, even positively affecting upper-body muscle-groups.
Performing compound-movements like squats, deadlifts, etc., does not only heavily involve your thigh-muscles and glutes, but also intensely challenges most of your body’s other major muscle-groups, burning more calories than cardio-exercise, not just during the work-out, but even for many hours afterwards due to its extensive afterburn effect. Adding muscle to your physique, which is best achieved, when focusing your weight-training efforts on your body’s largest lower-body muscle-groups, will increase your body’s metabolic rate, burn more calories throughout day and night, and thus not only contribute to body-fat reduction, but also help to keep lost fat off.
Intense thigh-training of adequate volume will also elevate your heart-rate and thus even provide significant cardio-respiratory benefits by strengthening your cardiac muscles and improving your lung capacity.
So don’t look for any excuses to drop or curtail your thigh work-outs, but remember that squats, along with other resistance exercises targeting your thighs, are among the best exercises you can do.