Leg day is often the most revered of all training days in our weekly schedule. The reason for this is simply due to the fact that if you execute a properly constructed and intensity fuelled leg day session, what you are left with is the inability to walk, breathe, drive home or all of the above. Everybody knows that you have to squat, leg press and do your lunges week after week to accrue any sort of upper leg mass and development; there's no secret there. But what some people fail to realize is that how you position and establish your foot holds to the floor when performing these movements can and will determine just how much stimulus the muscles receive and how much undue stress the knees take. The last thing you want is for continuous harm to ensue unnecessarily and improper foot placement will do just that. So how do you know if you're doing things right? Read on to find out.
The squat is king when it comes to building ultimate leg size. There is no other exercise that taxes your lower body than this movement which is why the hardcore celebrate it and the weak run from it. You have to squat and squat heavy every single week to grow massive legs so you better make sure you do it right; that all starts with your foot positioning. The best advice I can give to you with regards to how you set up your stance is to ensure all of the pressure your body takes from the weight on the bar is directed down and into your heels. When the barbell is resting on your shoulders, the downward straight line of the gravitational pull travels right down to your heels which is why establishing a firm base on that focal point is so important. By doing so, you'll have better stability and balance and you'll be able to generate a greater amount of force when you drive up and out of the hole by pushing through your heels all while taking as much stress of the knee joints as possible and placing it on the quads, hamstrings and glutes instead.
The next best exercise you can use, as a compliment to the squat for building size, would have to be the leg press. You'll be able to handle more weight on this exercise than any other which is why it has always been a favourite for bodybuilders. You have no doubt seen people at your gym loading up plate after plate on this machine to only complete what looks more like knee bends. That will do you no good unless you're looking to destroy your knees and look like a fool. Instead, what you should be doing is loading on all of those plates, lowering the carriage down as far as your hip mobility will allow you and then drive it back up hard and stopping just shy of lockout. Again, when you do this, how you displace the pressure on your feet is extremely important and again you have to make your heels the focal point of that pressure. That means most of you will have to adjust the height of your foot placement a little further up on the foot plate so that your heels don't lift on the decent of the movement. By doing so you'll alleviate the amount of stress the knee joints have to take and you'll be more powerful during the concentric portion of the rep.
Lunges are one of those exercises that you can use at the beginning of your leg day to loosen things up and drive lots of fresh blood into the upper legs which will prime them for the heavier stuff later. Or you can finish things off with lunges to really torture yourself and make sure that every single last fibre there is to stimulate has been cooked and you can no longer walk. Either way you have to include them in your leg day session and again you have to do them right. Whether you do stationary lunges one leg at a time, or alternating or you prefer the walking lunge, it's extremely important that every step you take lands on your heel first with the subsequent push off into the next step being generated from your heel once again. To ensure this occurs, watch how far you let your knee travel over your toes. If your knee, when flexed, goes further than your toes, you've gone too far and have shifted the pressure to the balls of your feet thereby creating too much stress on the knee joint. If, when viewed from the side, your upper and lower leg creates a 90 degree angle at your knee joint, then you're doing it right.
Now, having said all of that, what's the easiest way to make this happen without even really having to be conscious of it? Flat soled shoes, that's how and there's no better place to look for those than right here at Heyday Footwear. Check out our Super Shift, Super Freak, Mindset and Tactical Trainer models which all provide that flat soled, performance enhancing technology guaranteed to improve your leg day. Our shoes provide you with the perfect blend of balance, stability, structure, support and design that you're going to need on the toughest of leg days to catch those gains. So what are you waiting for?!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.