Don't do it!
We get it: the day after leg day can make you wonder if you actually need hamstrings in the first place. Having to spend a full day avoiding stairs, squatting, and standing up can easily feel like more trouble than it's worth. After all, when was the last time you got to flex your leg muscles in front of someone, anyway?
As it turns out, you do not want to skip leg day for a couple of reasons:
It's Harder to Build Muscle if You Skip Leg Day
The clusters around your legs and hips represent some of the biggest muscle mass in your body. This means that they also generate some of the largest releases of growth hormone and distribute protein over wider surface areas after intense workouts. Simply put, this means that training your leg muscles increases the results you'll see with muscles all over your body. If you skip leg day, you're not completely using the natural systems your body has to build muscle mass. Before you spring for the fancy protein and pre-workout shakes, make sure you're already using all of the advantages already built into your body.
As an additional drawback, you can end up looking pretty ridiculous if you only develop upper body strength at the expense of your lower body. The internet has no shortage of memes about people who skip leg day, after all.
Leg Day Supports Every Other Workout!
Name a sport that doesn't benefit from good footwork. Even sports that revolve around complex, upper-body movements—such as golf or baseball—benefit from being able to drive power and coordination from your lower body. In almost every sport, your power, momentum, or speed is going to come from generating force off of the ground, which means that the stronger your lower body is, the more you'll be able to perform.
Training your lower body also benefits weight training across a wide variety of upper-body lifts. In fact, 2 of the Big 3 lifts (which are squat, bench presses, and deadlifts) rely on drawing strength from your lower body. Given the importance of these three workouts in almost every powerlifting program, it doesn't make sense to neglect them.
Even if you're not interested in powerlifting or structured sports, you'll see a benefit from build leg muscle. Hiking, running, and long-distance walking all improve with stronger legs, allowing you to move faster and fatigue slower! If nothing else, you'll have plenty of extra spring in your step while walking around!
You'll Be More Vulnerable to Injuries (and Diseases!) If You Skip ...
If you're playing competitive sports, there are plenty of ways to accidentally injure your lower body. If you're not playing competitive sports, there are also, unfortunately, plenty of ways to injure your lower body. Including some leg days in your workout rotation goes a long way in lowering your chances of getting hurt—for both major and minor injuries!
In addition to making your legs more coffee-table resistant, good leg strength makes them more resilient to fractures and breaks. Doing regular, designated leg workouts also helps round out the muscle ranges on your legs, reducing the chance that you'll suffer a tear from overly-trained quads or hamstrings. No matter how much your legs ache after leg day, the pain doesn't come close to an ACL tear.
Training your legs also improves circulation, which helps prevent diseases like varicose veins. This vein disease is caused by damaged vein walls, which usually stem from high blood pressure. Over time, blood collects in these veins and causes them to swell, which can look offputting and be incredibly painful. While a good leg routine doesn't completely negate the possibility of varicose veins developing, it does significantly lower both the odds and potential severity.
Share in the comments how you motivate yourself to get through "leg day"!