Cardio On Leg Day
If you are passionate about building muscle mass and developing strength, you cannot shy away from leg day! Just as you don’t want to lay a weak foundation that you will build your skyscraper on, you don’t want to start exercising your body without settling every necessary thing, which is why you have to pay attention to your core muscles and legs. You need to understand how vital cardio on leg day is; to building your pace and enabling your legs for more extended activities.
If you want to have scintillating muscles like those of your shoulders, chest muscles, and biceps, and if leg day is not part of your weekly workout plan, you may soon have injuries. Many people have run into problems because they pay little or no attention to this critical area. Among other important exercises, cardio exercise aids the flow of blood to areas of your muscles where it is needed. With that, it fast tracks the healing process of sore muscles. Also, don’t forget that nutritious blood can reduce the total time spent in dealing with painful DOMS-induced leg workout (6).
Should you do cardio on leg day?
Cardio is also known as aerobic exercise or cardiovascular exercise, and they perform very vital functions in ensuring that you enjoy a healthy living. These exercises work on the heart and associated muscles. They help increase the rate at which the heart pumps blood to all parts of the body, thereby providing you with healthy lungs and heart. More so, they have been found beneficial for anyone hoping to lose some weight and sleep well (4).
Knowing how important aerobics is to the body, most trainers are fond of asking for what cardio is best on leg days. Usually, the leg day is essential in the gym schedule of anyone looking to develop their body muscle. This is because the legs perform major supporting functions for the upper body.
Talking about whether you should do cardio on leg day and what cardio is best on leg day, you must have a deep understanding of the workouts you engage in on leg days. As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of cardio is weight loss, and as you are losing weight, you lose fats and slow down the rate of achieving that big and robust lower body eventually (7). However, the type of routine you are willing and able to undertake for bigger legs will determine if there should be no cardio on leg day.
Who does this training not suit?
If you are a very heavy trainer and you aim at focusing on a bulgy and muscular body, it is most advisable that you do not bother yourself about doing cardio on your leg day. The reason is that one will affect the others in terms of performances. As a heavy trainer, if you work out on your leg first, you may not be able to perform your aerobic exercises afterward effectively. If you also decide to go for the cardio first, you may find your legs too weak to take on the challenge of the regular deadlifts, squats, burpees, and other workouts particular to the leg day. Cardio is better left until another day.
However, a light trainer who is not really focused on bulky legs may be able to perform cardiovascular exercises after completing the regular workouts for the leg day. Whether you are a heavy trainer or a light trainer, you can manage some cardio after working out your legs, but you must have a timeframe in between to allow the muscles of the legs to rest (5). For example, if you have trained your legs in the morning by doing some heavy leg workouts, you may need to wait till evening before you can perform any cardio.
If you trained heavily in the morning, you might find it easier and comfortable to do light aerobics such as walking, swimming, or biking. If you have done some light training on the leg day, you may be comfortable doing more tedious cardiovascular exercises. The resting periods between the leg day workouts and cardio workouts help heal the muscles during the delayed onset muscle soreness, resulting in straining the muscles during training (5).
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What cardio should I do on leg day?
According to certain research by the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the rate at which the muscles of the legs gain strength reduces when the legs workouts are done, along with cardiovascular exercises. If you are focused on ultimate strength gains in the leg, doing aerobics might not help achieve your leg goals.
Although cardio is necessary for healthy living, it is not a must that you do it on leg days, especially if you are the heavy trainer lifting heavy weights during workouts. You may have to put some days between your leg day and cardio day to avoid injuries because of overstretching.
Cardiovascular exercises for heavy trainers
This is excellent cardio to perform after an intense leg day. The effect is felt in all parts of the lower and upper body as well as associated muscles. Swimming helps heal delayed onset muscle soreness that is usually experienced after a workout.
It is a type of low-impact cardio that helps after a stressful workout. You can do it by riding an actual bicycle or bike in the neighbourhood for some time, depending on how uncomfortable your muscles feel after exercising. You can also do stationary biking by using a stationary bike. It works just like actual bicycling (4).
This is a light cardiovascular workout that does not burn many calories. To do this, follow these steps:
- Stand upright with both feet together and arms by your sides.
- Bend your left knee and bring it backwards to touch your butt.
- Repeat on your right leg.
- Repeat this process on both legs continuously for as long as it is convenient.
Like swimming, it works on the entire body.
- Stand upright with arms on the sides of legs pressed together.
- Throw your legs apart as you jump while also bringing your hand above your head.
- Return to starting position.
- Repeat for as long as you are comfortable with.
Cardiovascular exercises for light trainers
If you are a light trainer, cardiovascular exercises that can be done after a light training intensity include the following (1):
Unlike the regular squat, which majorly works on the lower body, adding a jump to a squat makes it aerobic.
- Stand upright with feet apart.
- Bring your buttock to the ground by bending the knees.
- At the lowest, jump back upwards and return to the squat position.
- Repeat the exercise as much as you want.
Standing alternating toe touches
This is a full-body cardiovascular workout, and the process involved is explained below:
- Stand upright with legs apart.
- Keep arms beside you and tighten your core.
- Kick your left leg as high as possible in front of you and reach out with your right hand to touch the raised leg’s toes.
- Switch the movement to involve the right leg and left hand.
- Repeat for as many times as you deem fit.
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Like the squat, this is a combination of normal lunges and jumps.
- Stand with feet apart.
- Bend the knees towards the ground by kneeling on one leg.
- Tighten your core and let your arms fly backward.
- Switch to the other leg as you jump up and go back to the lunge position.
- Continue to switch the lunge between both legs.
This is a quite hectic exercise involving the full-body, but it is worth doing after all. Here is how to engage in this exercise:
- Lay on the floor.
- Lift your body off the floor by rising on the hands beneath the shoulders.
- Keep your body rigid.
- Bring your left knee to the level of your chest.
- Swiftly switch to bringing the right knee to your chest level while bringing the left knee to start position.
- Keep switching the movement between the legs for as long as you want.
It is a form of intense cardio performed by the entire body, and it is a combination of jumps, pushups, and squats.
- Stand upright with feet moderately apart.
- Place your hand on the floor when you assume a squat posture.
- Go into a plank position by jerking your legs backward into a stretch.
- Engage in a single push up.
- Return to the squat position before jumping back on your feet to stand upright.
- Repeat this routine for as long as it is convenient for you.
How much cardio on leg day should I do?
The first thing you need to define is the purpose of your training. Are you training to lose weight or to gain muscles? If you are preparing to lose weight, you may do lots of cardio while training your legs lightly. But if the goal is to build or develop muscles for the body, then doing too much cardio will mean working against your body goals. This is because cardio burns fats and calories, hence reducing the rate of muscle development.
Cardio and abs on leg day
After a very hectic leg day, it may be difficult and tedious to start performing workouts that are solely meant to give you great stomach muscles or abs. However, there is a solution to this because cardio on leg days can go hand in hand. As you engage in cardiovascular exercises, you could also be using the same opportunity to develop the stomach muscles into great abs. To that effect, some cardio that also doubles as abs workouts include the following (5):
This involves lifting bended knees as high as possible like you are marching or going up the stairs. You can keep increasing the pace of marching on the spot and maintain this pace for about 30 seconds. This exercise can be repeated thrice at intervals of one minute.
This workout is for the entire muscles of the body and majorly on the core. You will need a rope to do this exercise as it involves jumping on each leg for specified seconds. You then switch continuously to jump on both legs. Start by doing three sets for 15 minutes, and as you get acquainted with it, you could increase the pace and time frame.
Stand straight while you have dumbbells beside you, and have your palms face your body. Then, as far as you can, lunge forward using your right leg and bend your trailing knee until it is about to brush the floor. Push back your upper body with the heel of your right foot to where you started from. Do the same process for your second leg (3).
Sprawl on a bench by facing down and your hips placed at the edge. Stretch your legs off the back of the bench, squeeze your glutes and lift your legs to your hips level. Then, lift your left leg beyond your right leg. Also, let down the left leg while lifting your right leg. Keep the movement under control as you perform the exercise.
Cardio on leg days could be a nightmare and is most times dreaded by many trainers. However, to reap the proper benefits, you must know why you are training your body and stick to routine workouts to help achieve your goal. If you ask, is it bad to do cardio on leg day? The truth is that cardio is essential for the heart and other parts of the body, except for the fact that it should be scheduled in a way that will not affect the overall result of gaining body muscles especially leg muscles, which is essential in maintaining support and balancing the body.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 Ways to Get a Great Cardio Workout at Home (2020 verywellfit.com)
- 25 Cardio Exercises That Deliver Huge Total-Body Results (2020, womenshealthmag.com)
- Build Bigger Legs and Tougher Abs at Home with This Superset Workout (2020, menshealth.com)
- Cardio That Blasts Thigh Fat (2019, livestrong.com)
- Here’s Exactly What to Do on Leg Day (2020, livestrong.com)
- The Best Cardio Workouts for Abs (2019, livestrong.com)
- The Best Types of Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss (n.d., mensjournal.com)