The worshipers of the muscle fiber take great pride in “trashing” their legs through various movements resembling light medieval barbarity.
The mainstream bodybuilding axiom teaches that if you are not blasting your legs, you are not covering the requirements needed for the formation of a physique capable of triggering wicked levels of external admiration.
Some scholars go as far as saying that you will never reach your natural genetic potential unless you spend a lot of time in the claws of a vise created by a heavy bar on your shoulders and the ground. Many still believe in the notion that squats have a peculiar property that can help a natural cross the river and reach a new level of madness beating through his muscles. Those who do not comply with the dogma enjoy a healthy amount of ridicule and insults.
Is the attack justified? It could be. There are boys in the gym who need to man up and perform hard exercises. If you really want to do something but don’t due to fear, you are basically a little pony.
But fear is not the focus of this piece. There are legit reasons to avoid conventional leg training that do not involve squat anxiety. This post is dedicated to them.
1. Leg Training is Draining
Few things are as tiresome as a routine based on leg and hip dominant compound exercises. The muscles of the lower body are pretty tough and can adapt to amazing stimuli. The problem is that every day is Central Nervous System day. Serious overclocking powers are required to constantly obliterate the lower body. The end result is a drained organism and mind.
This could be a problem even for office drones. When I was slaving to 5 times a week routines, I was often incapable of doing computer work in the evening. I had the physical strength, but my head wasn’t there. I would just lie in my bed and browse the net without doing productive tasks that are technically more valuable to me than a squat PR or some imaginary leg gains.
You have a limited capacity. Spend it wisely and don’t give up too much market share to activities that take more than they give back.
Always protect your ground.
2. Leg Training Eats Volume That Can Be Donated To The Upper Body
As a male, your upper body is crucial for the construction of a fuck-me-now physique. Women are not hyperventilating over big quads and chafing groins. The glutes are an exception and have some sexual power. They are also the easiest lower body part to build – every compound exercise hits them – from front squats to leg presses. As a bonus, the glutes grow fast too. Building the upper body on the other hand is quite difficult.
If your goal is to construct a body that increases your sexual appeal as a male, focusing on the chest, arms and lats is a logical step. Yet many professors force you to become a squat slave bowing in front of the rack multiple times a week. All that nonsense takes away valuable time, effort and overclocked neurons that could otherwise be invested into curls, bench presses, pull-ups, dips and other goodies designed to increase the perception of your alpha status.
If you want to become a centaur, be my guest. But don’t complain that I didn’t warn you.
Here’s an upper body focused split with minimal leg training:
Monday: Chest Heavy, Back Light
Wednesday: Legs + Arms
Friday: Back Heavy, Chest Light
For more routines check out Training Focus 2.
3. Gym Leg Training Is Sterile
The barbell house is a weird environment – you lift things that don’t have to lifted; run without going anywhere; cycle without tires.
This is what I call a sterile climate – the motion is performed, but the work that is supposed to manifest from that movement remains absent. This is how depression arises.
The soul loves outdoor activities such as running, sprinting and cycling. A day spent cycling or hiking in the mountains is more satisfying than jogging on the hamster wheel while watching the latest Netflix motion picture on your tablet. Yet most prefer the comfort of their own car and the walls of the gym.
I don’t get it. We talk about being functional and prepared, but very few actually commit to actualizing their strength and endurance. I guess it’s easier to dream than to live.
I would rather be the guy commuting on his bike or by foot than the dude doing Smolov and spending the rest of the day sitting.
4. The Size of Your Calves Is Predetermined. Exercises Make No Difference.
I am almost sorry to inform you, but high calves don’t grow much if at all. Regardless of the voodoo level, the effort is futile. If you have long tendons and short muscles, there’s not much room for growth. The dudes with the biggest calves rarely train them. Their gains are the result of genetics rather than sophisticated programs and religious dedication.
Training the calf muscles for hypertrophy when you don’t have the required structure is a waste of time.
5. You Won’t Look Nearly as Imbalanced as The Strength Church Says
We have all seen the photos of men who allegedly skip leg day. Many of the images represent photoshopped nonsense and angle manipulations. In reality, you will not look nearly as ridiculous, especially as a natural. Unless you are malnourished and/or severely inactive, you won’t have chicken legs.
On top of that, there are many men who have big legs by default thanks to their bone structure and muscle insertions. My father is a perfect example – he has massive calves and upper legs without any exercises.
In short, don’t listen to the megaphones who say that the lack of leg training will turn you into some weird creature that people would point at and laugh. The dudes who say that just want a tap on the shoulder and a way to anesthetize their own insecurities.
6. Nobody Cares About Your Heroic Leg Adventures
Many lifters present themselves as soldiers of fortune during their training. I remember squatting with blood running from my nose. At the time, I felt manly. Today, I feel stupid.
Who was I pretending to be? A man saving the planet by fighting against a heavy bar?
The harsh truth is that nobody cares about your made up heroic acts in the gym. Scream all you want. Nothing will change. All that spine breaking is meaningless. You are killing yourself for fool’s gold. The drama is unnecessary.
7. Brutal Lower Body Training Will Not Raise Your Testosterone
Contrary to popular disinformation, squats and deads have no meaningful effect on your natural test levels. The dudes selling hope integrated in 5×5 routines got it all wrong. They glorify the squat and the deadlift for marketing purposes. Squatting and deadlifting in an attempt to raise your test is as effective as putting on a suit to get rich, maybe even less than that.
8. Breaking The Rules Feels Nice
There’s something extremely satisfying about making the rulers mad. To be truly free, one has to develop the strength necessary to choose a path less traveled. The most interesting people that you are ever going to meet or read about follow fewer dogmas than the rest.
Once I read about a guy calling himself “Ultra Romance”. According to the article, he works only six months a year and spends the other six touring on his bicycle. The average person will be outraged at such an existence, and yet I bet that a conversation with Ultra Romance would be more engaging than talking to an average mall dweller or a black Friday warrior.
The ability to go against the mainstream shows strength, courage and maturity.
9. Leg Days Do Not Increase Your Athletic Performance Nearly as Much as Advertised
The conditioning coaches will fill your head with legends about the squat. “Get your squat to 405lbs, and you will jump over a building”. The nasty truth disagrees. Unless you are involved in a strength sport, squats are not only overrated but also largely unused.
The element that helps your performance the most is practice. If you want to get good at something, a narrow focus is required. Squats don’t help roundhouse kicks.
P.S. You can discuss this article in the comment section below or on the forum.
Reminds me of a video by Firas Zahabi (MMA coach) where he said that heavy squatting and deadlifting is not only useless for athletic performance, you also fry your nervous system constanty, which negatively affects all other areas of life.
According to him, squatting a little over bodyweight for reps is more than enough for a fighter.
This is what I found out from personal experience. These heavy squats and deadlifts make me wanna quit life for three days.
After lower body day I feel like I perform at 50% in every area of life.
Funny because the only thing that makes my lower back feel that bad is jiu-jitsu. Some days I can’t tie my shoes and have to go home in flip flps. lol
I think people, especially men, just load up all the weights they can find due to various mental problems then complain that it’s miserable.
And yes, part of it is the unreasonable standards men feel are placed on them in the dating world. Women have more options than men, way more options, so forget about it, biceps are not tits. lol
It’s hard to be humble, especially when you feel that everyone is judging you and it’s hard to watch Mark Bell’s YT channel religiously every day when you don’t have a coach to help you.
So guys just load up 45s on the bar with garbage form until something tweaks and say “that’s it” and retire to the fake 8 plate leg press, they get zero pussy for their trouble either.
The truth is that no one cares what you lift, one way or the other and if you keep doing everything right, you will eventually reap the benefits, the strength and health benefits for sure.
Besides, most people can tell when someone is legit strong through a decade of flawless training habits and someone who good mornings a 400lb quarter squat up. There’s no shortcut to respect and you’ve fooled no one but yourself. You look like an ass out there.
One thing that does impress a woman is a man who sticks with something over a period of many years and becomes legitimately good at it. But that’s not the desired quick fix.
My 40 year old wife squats and deadlifts and it’s done wonders for her as she had almost no muscle on her spine and hamstrings. Is she massive? No, but her lower back and legs are much stronger and I would venture to guess, her bone density.
I’m very careful with her training because I care about her. If something hurts, we stop or backtrack on the weight and I make sure her form never breaks. You should be very careful in your training, as well, you should care about yourself.
She’s up to 45lbs on a Romanian deadlift, she started at 20lbs. Our goal by the end of this year is 65lb conventional deadlift when she’s finally strong enough to use two 10lb Rogue plates. lol
That’s all you are supposed to do. 3×5 squats and work up to a set of deadlifts. Yeesh, what are you guys doing?
Set modest strength goals and be patient, there is plenty of time.
What about Jason Blaha? He claims lower body strength has huge benefits on one person’s overall muscle mass, health and longevity. An article on his fitness advice would be great.
He isn’t wrong, but you have to take into consideration that he is obsessed about powerlifting type of training like Rippetoe.
Blaha is a powerlifting church fanatic ! His strength standards are ridiculous , back in a days when i got a hard on for heavy squats , all i got was a heavy low back injury ! I just don’t give a fuck anymore , i do hack squats , lunges, and other machines and my legs are the same if not bigger than before..
But not stronger, church man Blaha buries you. 😉
Seriously, if more people were just more realistic about where they were at strength wise, it would be a lot better.
Squats and deadlifts are technical lifts that require coaching, not to mention the bench and overhead press, it takes time and honesty to master them.
I saw another person posting below how leg presses and leg curls are all you need but then says there aren’t many good machines for strengthening the lower back.
How about deadlifts? lol
You could do 3 sets of squats, 1 set of deadlifts twice per week and get it done right…but somehow 5 different machine based isolation exercises is easier, it only seems easier.
If you have to deadlift with a 45lb bar on two blocks to be pain free, then that’s how you do it, that’s where you are. My wife deadlifts 45lbs and it’s strengthened her back quite a bit, I don’t ever push her to do more than she feels comfortable with.
There is no law that says you have to load weights onto the bar with increasingly shoddy form until something goes snap, that’s all you.
Squat 95lbs for 3 sets of 5. If the last set isn’t easy, don’t go up yet, it’s the easiest thing, except that you’ll look weak.
Egos get in the way, especially for people who say they don’t care if they are strong. Machines are really just a way to avoid the issue altogether. I’m not trying to get strong bruh, it’s just for looks.
What kind of man obsesses about his looks? This is a fundamental problem.
Isolation exercises can build show muscles to an extent but they leave you with structural imbalances that are not easily remedied.
Nothing worse than watching a bodybuilder try to play sports, they are easily injured for this reason.
Blaha is mostly right except that he is a little too much on the minimalist side for my taste.
Full body, 3x a week with mostly compound lifts is a great way for a natural to train though.
Blaha is not a proponent of leg day, he rightly thinks it’s idiotic and he’s got a video on it somewhere.
Leg day is a bro split mentality that only makes sense where steroids are involved.
You are the best thing in whole fitness industry. I found you a long time ago. I love to hear truth !!! I appreciate your articles more than anything and this frequent articles. You are hero.
For me, Truthseeker, “leg day” is more hiit with high reps and light weights. I feel it important to work the lower body as it promotes athleticism. I love squatting, but again with a light weight, for me that would be between 95 to 135 pounds but done explosively while paying attention to form. I get a good pump, a good sweat without doing a number on my knees and back.
I quit squatting years ago after it messed up my next and back. I love biking outside and my legs look better from cycling than they ever did from squatting. The gym sucks your soul one rep at a time.
“The gym sucks your soul one rep at a time.”
– Mitch Rapp, 2018
Some people see you as a negative person this and that.. but we who are lifting more than 7-8 years know the truth .. unfortunate truth… Natural muscle building is a VERY VERY slow process that slows down even more after 2-3 years of proper training.. We will never look like our youtube subscriptions .. NEVER ! Most of them are drugged up to the bones
My comment vanished .. ?
Squatting is one of those things that, from a body sculpting and aesthetic viewpoint (which is what most people pursue), never lived up to it’s billing. Agreed that it usually builds big asses, which is why many women love them. There are some folks that are built to squat (they almost always have wider hips) and others that are not; if you are one of those people that are made to squat and enjoy it, then by all means squat.
I was one of those people, the exercise felt right from day one when I started training. I used to do high reps with low to moderate weight, but for the most part I avoided it for years because I had big legs before I even started training…lower body has always been a strong point for me. As you get older squats and deadlifts are usually taken out of the equation, as they sap too much out of you and can easily tweak your back, but thankfully they are easily replaceable with much safer options.
Today I don’t feel the need to do any more than leg presses and machine iso-leg kickbacks; they hit almost everything and IMO the leg press has built more mass on legs than squats for most people – when done right. Short rest, lots of reps/sets, low to moderate weight seems to do the trick (unless your legs are predominantly fast twitch). The great thing about training this way, for me, was I never had a bad leg workout, though I never personally trained legs as a stand alone, always full body. I sometimes throw leg extensions and leg curls into the mix for variety and variation, but these are typically unnecessary and largely redundant.
FYI: The one thing that most don’t train when they focus on lower body (which they absolutely should) is lower back training, and sometimes it comes back to bite them in the form of lower back pain. From experience, I agree with what Arthur Jones said years ago, 90%+ of reoccurring non-traumatic lower back pain is primarily due to a weak back, which his Med-X line of machines seemed to address and significantly improve. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to specifically target and isolate lower back muscle when training, but thankfully I found a similar machine at my gym that seems to work well and really makes me feel much better when I incorporate it into my training.
Preach brother! Beautiful! Yes, those of us who have lifted for some time, both naturally and not, know the reality these hoody-wearing hopefuls don’t. Wasting time in the gym to excess does nothing for the world. Do some good and legs aren’t it. Nice article I will pass it along.
How a natural lifter can monitorate if he is following the right approach for muscle growth?
Watch only at strenght gains is not too less?
How I can understand if I’m (slowly) gaining muscle mass?
Have nice days with your family during christmas
Don’t worry about that. Just train.
Does snatch DL focous more on back than on Hamstring? I mean more than the normal Deadlift
Does snatch DL focous more on back than on Hamstring? I mean more than the normal Deadlift.
In theory, the focus is on the upper back.
Dude some articles don’t appear in the dates that are set.
What is up with that?
Some new bug I guess.
Truthseeker You must be adopted or your father is not your natural one. Look at the legs ?
I am becoming more of a fan on unconventional leg building. I have found that walking two miles up and down hills with a 60lb vest and carrying ten pound plates to be more effective than squats and deadlifts for my core and lower body. I am not growing like crazy from this but I do feel my quads, hamstrings and calves post session. With squats I usually get a pump in my quads. Deadlfits I get a pump in my lower back. Walking with weights hits all that and more for me. The bonus is that I get to do this outside.
In 10+ years of training, I’ve only worked my legs once…Maybe twice.
You are saying that deadlifts and squats don’t produce testosterone or there are many studies which state that they do :
Thanks in advance for your answer. I’m commenting because i’ve never heard anything like that before and was wondering where is the reasoning behind your statement.
The biggest problem with the leg day for me is become limitated for pain in your daily activities. What’s the good of have freaking legs if you can’t walk around on street or make a little manual work (helping in a moving house, let’s say).
I don’t know if it’ll help anyone, but I fucked up my neck from squatting heavy, improperly for a few years. I started using a bowflex for squats instead, and now I’m generally pain free and I feel less tired all the time. I lost a little bit of mass, but like the author says dedicating countless hours in order to always being on the verge of splitting your jeans is pointless.
I’d agree, both from own experience and training amateur athletes.
Any kind of sprinting or HIIT on a bike, elliptical will do more for your legs than heavy Deads or squats.
Quads hamstrings and glutes respond better to frequent medium load, medium high rep training.
This is one of the most red pill fitness blogs I have ever come across.
You earned the title ‘TRUTH Seeker’. I hope more non-steroid users find your site before they are sucked into the corporate fraud promoted by the mainstream muscle industry.
How many hours, dollars and years have recreational lifters wasted chasing roided adonis type bodies over the last 2 generations?
Hello again, Truth. I admit that squats briefly helped me on my fitness journey. Only briefly. I can squat 80 pounds just fine at the moment but as a 5’9″ ectomorph with wiry arms I realize that squats aren’t going to necessarily build my upper body. Better that I train them specifically and just walk, run, or practice roundhouse kicks more often. Speaking of roundhouse kicks, I ask Truth and other six-inch-wristed ectomorphs to roundhouse kick an endomorph and a mesomorph someday. Make THEM learn that our smaller frames can and will use force and still look Instagram-worthy while doing that.
Hello again, Truth. I admit that squats briefly helped me on my fitness journey. Only briefly. I can squat 80 pounds just fine at the moment but as a 5’9″ ectomorph with wiry arms I realize that squats aren’t going to necessarily build my upper body. Better that I train them specifically and just walk, run, or practice roundhouse kicks more often. Speaking of roundhouse kicks, I ask Truth and other six-inch-wristed ectomorphs to roundhouse kick an endomorph and a mesomorph someday. Make THEM learn the hard way that our smaller frames can and will use force and still look Instagram-worthy while doing that.
Just for health maintenance purposes; a set of 5 pistol squats each leg a week should suffice.
CYCLE OF LIFE FOR GYMBROS:
1. Want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club
2. Brad Pitt is a skinny twink. I’m 4ever bulking brah.
3. Want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Let’s also not forget that anabolics massively exacerbate the difference between arm and leg size in those who skip leg day. In fact, most of the “never skip leg day” memes we see on the internet are pictures of steroid users. Shouldn’t be an issue for us natties.
For me, useful pair of legs are not tree trunk legs that can squat half a ton or legs that go on running for 200 miles nonstop, legs that can jump a 45 inch vertical or run the 100 meter under 10 sec.
I have huge respect for such legs but my aspirations are different.
I wish to own a ‘normal’ pair of legs.
Such legs that can go up and down pain free in every angle, lift a bit off the ground without strain, take me through a simple turn without lose of balance and that will carry me through life in a moderate pace but without fail.
Throughout my research I’ve found that such normal legs are hard to come by.