Never skip leg day. Oops, that is already a hint to one of the reasons your legs are not growing and how to fix it. Read it all below and finally blow up your lower body game with these tips from coach Alain Gonzalez.
Coach Alain Gonzalez is an author, personal trainer and YouTuber with over 800K subscribers. He often uploads videos of fitness workouts, tips, training tricks and more, all related to making the most out of your time when working out.
Alain Gonzalez works out consistently, hitting the gym four to five times a week and following a solid nutrition plan to support his training and recovery. However, despite his efforts, his legs don’t seem to be responding as well as his upper body muscles. While genetics play a significant role, Alain believes there are a few main reasons his legs are lagging behind.
You can learn a thing or two from his personal experience. Or, in fact, you can learn 4 things from him when it comes to why your legs might not be growing and how to fix it.
4 Reasons Your Legs are Not Growing (and How to Fix It)
Reason number one is poor exercise selection. Alain emphasizes the importance of choosing the right exercises to stimulate muscle growth. For quads, he suggests considering a switch from traditional barbell squats to a Smith machine squat, which has been shown to provide better activation of the target muscles and less strain on the core and lower back.
For hamstrings, Alain recommends incorporating both lengthened and shortened position exercises, such as Romanian deadlifts and seated leg curls. Additionally, he highlights the significance of leg position during calf raises, as it affects muscle stimulation. Keeping the legs extended during calf raises activates the gastrocnemius more effectively.
Reason number two is not training to failure. Alain refers to a recent meta-regression, indicating that taking sets to failure leads to better muscle growth outcomes. He advises ensuring that sets are pushed to or close to failure, especially considering that lower body muscles are larger and stronger than upper body muscles.
To gauge proximity to failure, Alain suggests paying attention to involuntary slowing of rep speed, as indicated by recent studies. He also notes that stopping a set when there are one to two reps left in the tank can lead to similar muscle activation and mass gains as training to failure.
Reason number three is the absence of a dedicated leg day. Alain stresses the importance of dedicating sufficient time to training the lower body, considering its size and intensity requirements. He recommends at least one dedicated leg day per week and, for those seeking enhanced growth, suggests a training routine that dedicates two days to lower body training.
Reason number four is ego lifting. Alain cautions against sacrificing range of motion for heavier weights, particularly in exercises like squats. He advocates for using a weight that allows for a full range of motion, citing studies that show greater hypertrophy adaptations when training at longer muscle lengths.
When all is said and done, the fact that you clicked here already shows that you are one step ahead to fixing your leg hypertrophy problems: the first thing is to acknowledge that there is a problem, then identify it and, ultimately, fix it.
You can check out Alain’s 4 reasons your legs are not growing and how to fix them – with more detailed information – by watching the video below.
The reluctance or tendency of many people to disregard leg training often comes from a combination of factors. Firstly, there exists a widespread aesthetic focus on the upper body, particularly the chest, arms, and shoulders, which are more visible muscles.
A well-defined upper physique often leads people to prioritise workouts that target these muscle groups, neglecting the lower body. Additionally, lower body workouts, especially compound movements like squats and deadlifts, can be physically demanding and mentally challenging. Many individuals may find leg workouts more strenuous, leading to a preference for exercises that feel less exhausting or uncomfortable.
Now take that last paragraph into consideration, especially if you want to lose body fat. If working your lower body is more strenuous, it means you are recruiting more muscle mass and burning more calories for any given exercise. Not only you will be burning more calories for a specific exercise, but you will also be putting more muscle under tension – breaking and, eventually, repairing muscle fibre tissue.
This is the basic principle of building muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. This, in turn, means your body will be burning more calories simply by keeping it functioning. More muscles, more calories burnt without the necessity of actually exercising, which ultimately leads to a leaner physique.
Moreover, there is a misconception that training legs is not as crucial for achieving an aesthetically pleasing physique. Some believe that a well-built upper body is sufficient for a muscular appearance, overlooking the fact that balanced muscle development enhances overall symmetry and contributes to a healthier, injury-resistant body.
This misconception, coupled with the discomfort associated with leg workouts and the societal emphasis on visible muscles, contributes to the common phenomenon of leg training being sidelined or given less priority in fitness routines. Overcoming these barriers requires a shift in mindset, recognising the importance of comprehensive strength training and understanding that neglecting the lower body can hinder overall fitness and aesthetic goals in the long run.