Why Upper Body Workouts Are More Popular Than Leg Training

It takes about one or two gym visits to meet a captain upper body – a lifter devoting most of his time and effort to the arms, chest, and back. The usual excuse of the biceps warriors for not training the legs is a history of volleyball or basketball.

“I used to do a lot of basketball in high school. Now my knees are in sleep mode,” says the typical captain upper body.

The Effect Of Big Biceps On Women

Ironically, men always find a way to train their arms regardless of previous injuries, but when it comes to the lower body, the story changes completely.


“Why should I train my legs? Leg exercises are a waste of time. I run,” says Mr. 99Excuses.

Of course, this stereotype is a male trademark. Women usually showcase the opposite tendency and stick exclusively with leg exercises and tons of cardio. The main reason why men focus on their upper bodies is cultural. Various forms of entertainment have altered our thinking. Everybody associates strength and muscle growth with flexed and bulging biceps.

A massive upper body is an effective way to intimidate other men and get attention from women. Women may say that they don’t care, but they do. That’s a fact. And by the way – they are looking too.

Most men know this, but even if they don’t, there is a ton of material in the online realm reminding you of this fact. I can tell you without a doubt that people with big legs, and especially calves, would gladly trade their extra lower body mass for some arm growth.

Big legs don’t have the same impact on the opposite sex because most women actually have better genetics than men when it comes to legs and calves. I guess the golden rule that the opposites attract holds true once again.

A man with broad shoulders creates the illusion of a protective figure. The centaur look cannot produce the same effect and is rarely considered hot. You will seldom meet a woman who is into big bulky legs.

Upper Body Training Is Easier and More Rewarding In Our Society 

When I was following a “5×5 wanna be a centaur routine”, I used to get extremely anxious before squats. I would look at the people on the bus and think how easy their lives must be. They were going to some stupid cubicles while I was getting mentally ready to fight dragons in the squat rack.

Upper body training has never produced as much fear and anxiety in me. Benching after squats was a break at the time. The second I was on the bench, a sense of relief used to embrace me. I was happy that the medieval torture to which I was subjecting myself voluntarily had finally ended. I’d earned my right to lay down and be a normal bro.

Of course, the main reason for this strenuous experience is that leg training taxes not only your lower body but your overall system as well. Leg exercises work way more muscles than the bench press, and the central nervous system is often overclocked too. Light or not, a squat is always hard.

That’s why in most small gyms there’s only one squat rack and at least 2 bench press stations. There are way more volunteers to bench than to squat.

In brief, another reason why people skip leg day is the lack of pain tolerance. Even simple things like leg extensions are harder than biceps curls. When something is difficult but does not provide the preferred visual impact, it’s easy for people to just drop it and go for a jog with the dog.

For me, it was a little different. When I first started training, one of my main goals was to develop exceptionally big legs. I had an inferiority complex as a kid. My lower legs were thinner than most people’s forearms. My friends used to joke all the time and call me names.

It’s safe to say that I was trying to compensate for my past by joining the centaur cult. I embraced all the myths and misconceptions surrounding squats. I was truly convinced that squats add slabs of meat to you while increasing your testosterone levels to extraterrestrial highs in the process.

I also wanted to feel different and superior to everybody else. As the saying goes, one of the best ways to make somebody do something is to tell him to do the exact opposite. The magazines told me to train arms, I chose to train legs.

Sadly, I didn’t get the growth that I expected because of my natural status.

Squat, leg presses and lunges are boring?

Once upon a time, I had an epiphany during a set of leg presses.

“Why I am spending my leg juice on pushing some stupid sled up and down,” I asked myself.

Moments like that have helped me understand why someone would choose to ride a bike over squatting in a sweaty gym.

The truth, however, is that most people use this as an excuse to avoid hard training. Very few of the runners out there do hard stuff like sprints and uphill running. Most jog while listening to podcasts.

Is focusing on the upper body that bad?

I used to think so, but today I am not as lost in my self-righteousness. People should be free to train any way they want. If your desire is to focus on the upper body, be my guest.

3 comments

  1. splattenburgers

    I know this isn’t the PC thing to say but I think leg training is bullshit unless you are an athlete or just really care about legs for some reason.

    If you are working out to look good there is almost zero reason to do legs. Saying women care about legs is like saying men care if women have big biceps and shoulders. It’s total nonsense.

    And this whole bull about chicken legs is also stupid. You will never put on enough muscle naturally to have an upper body that is extremely out of proportion with your lower body, and I would argue that having an equally big lower body actually looks worse since it ruins your v-taper. The guys with the “chicken legs” often just have bad calf genetics and have naturally skinny legs in the first place, that’s just genetics and has nothing to do with exercise.

  2. Chad Walls

    Excellent article! I have been looking for a reason to just train my upper body for awhile. I have 24″ legs and only 16″ arms. I have been squatting and deadlifting for about 18 months and need a break. I am finding that training my legs drains my CNS and I often don’t have the time and energy left over to focus on my shoulders and arms. How long will it take to bring my upper body up to speed. I would like at least 17″ arms or bigger to go with my 24″ legs but also don’t want to lose the strength I gained in my lower body. Will sacrificing my leg training for 3 months be enough to dramatically improve my upper body or will it require more time?

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