One of the most important body parts is also the most underutilized in modern society. Yes, it’s the legs. I guess the title of this article gave the answer away, but let’s look at why the legs are so important and why they are underutilized.
We rely on our legs for locomotion to a large extent. In the course of locomotion many very important tasks are carried out such as stooping to pick up an item, traversing varied terrains such as stairs, hills etc. As we navigate to where we are moving our bodies we must be able to do so efficiently and safely. To achieve safe efficient locomotion of our bodies we need strong legs.
By strong I mean having good muscle contractions in varied positions along with the range of motion of the joints of the leg, hip, knee and ankle, This allows us to increase the function of the legs by providing usefulness in a varied set of positions ie minimal joint flexion positions such as walking or running on flat predictable surfaces, to moving through areas of uneven terrain and breaking a fall due to the unpredictability of the terrain. By the way, inability to break a fall could be deadly to older adults due to injuries sustained during the fall such as broken hips.
Strong legs also are the best machines available when it comes to exercising at intensities that aid in fat loss and reaching a healthier BMI (Body Mass Index). Consult a BMI chart to check your own BMI (there is one on my website, www.WillPowellFitness.com). The group of muscles that make up the legs is the largest in the body and as such have the potential to produce the most work (exertion) of any muscle group in the body through many forms of exercise. So when you consider all of this the importance of strong legs becomes evident.
Now let’s look at the underutilization issue. In our affluent and very busy society, we no longer have to walk or run to survive. Most of our daily occupations don’t require us to use our legs or even move our bodies in any fashion. Additionally, much of our pastimes are spent engaging in electronic media activities. Over time our leg muscles become less toned, weak and unable to perform duties that are essential to overall fitness. Additionally, weak muscles don’t support joints and this leads to knee and ankle joint inflammation and wear. Now let’s look at methods of utilizing and building these very important muscles. The most basic method of building leg muscles is walking or running 20-30 minutes most days. This can be as basic as a walk around your office parking lot during breaks to taking a short walk/run session where you run for 1 minute then walk for 3 minutes.
For those individuals who are looking for a more challenging leg muscle building routine, calisthenic exercises such as skips, bounds, and lunges are very productive. For more of a challenge and even stronger legs, resistance training is highly effective. Exercises such as barbell squats, weighted lunges, and stiff leg dead-lifts are sure to build very strong and functional leg muscles that not only are able to break a fall and burn lots of calories but also look great.
If you desire these type legs and are taking steps to build them, then you are a bodybuilder!