One does not simply skip leg day... | Jack Marshall's column

Three of the five biggest muscle groups in the human body are in the legs.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:55 am
Dead-lifts: the name should be warning enough...

We’ve got some seriously big old guns in our pegs, some prime beef below the belt. But whisper the words ‘leg day’ to even a cursory gym-goer and they’ll react as if you’ve just put salt in their protein shake.

Despite their being quite crucial for things like standing, staying upright, walking, and about a million other things which have proved useful for us over the millennia, legs usually fall into one of two categories when it comes to all things pumping iron.

The first category is reserved for people who, out of vanity and Instagram-biased preference for working the glory muscles - your biceps, your pecs, your abs and the like - disregard the doughty pistons. They're the leg-day draft dodgers.

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These people are not to be fraternized with. They are dangerous and evil, susceptible to spending an inordinate amount of time flexing their arms in front of wall-length mirrors and taking selfies between sets. You’ll be able to spot them by their lack of sweat.

As the internet-sweeping saying has it, never skip leg day. Going to the gym is good. It’s healthy. It’s an inherently positive thing to do. But if your vain tendencies result in you very much skipping leg day, reconsider. Quickly.

Suck it up, purse those glutes, and get deep and low in that squat, my friend. And enjoy the sore buttocks. Which brings me onto the second category of which I am an enthusiastic if begrudgingly self-aware member: the leg-day waddlers.

Not to pepper this column with too many truisms but, to quote Teddy Roosevelt, ‘nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.’ And leg day is plenty effort, pain, and difficulty because it involves some chunky slabs of sinew, as we’ve covered.

To indulge in leg day is to subject oneself to the famous Doms - delayed onset muscle soreness. Our legs are great at being just strong enough to cope with walking, the odd jog, and your standard household stairs. Beyond that, thicc as they may be, those dogs do be barking.

And, so, have a side of Doms with your leg day. Complain about them if you must - making faces and sucking air through one's teeth is an integral part of being a leg-day waddler - but also take a moment to be proud of not being a leg-day draft dodger. Embrace the sore. Enjoy it.

I write this with hamstrings so tight you could play Sultans of Swing on them, calves burning hotter than Scarlett Johansson’s fireplace. But one does not simply skip leg day.