Because your legs contain some of the largest muscle groups in your body, training them can be energy-intensive and challenging. You need to stimulate the muscles to help them grow, but training them too much can be counterproductive, as that doesn't give them time to rest, repair and rebuild.
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Train your legs muscles at least twice per week but no more than four times weekly on nonconsecutive days. How often you do train depends on the intensity of your session and your goals.
Your legs consist of four basic muscle areas — the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Many exercises used to train these muscles are compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts.
Including compound exercises in your training routine is a way to stimulate all four muscles with one exercise. However, one or two muscle groups are usually more dominant in certain exercises, such as the quadriceps during the squats, and hamstrings and glutes during the deadlift.
Training Goals and Experience
Because the legs are a large muscle area, it is common to train them just twice per week leaving 48 to 72 hours between workouts so they have time to recover for optimal muscle growth. This twice-per-week protocol usually applies to bodybuilders and power lifters who max out the amount of weight they use during squats; performing just six to eight reps in each of three to six sets at a workout.
However, if you're new to training or train for fitness, rather than size or power, you may train them up to four times per week on non-consecutive days. If you're sore from a previous leg workout, don't perform another leg workout even if it's on your workout plan. You'll benefit from the extra rest.
The reason why newer trainees or fitness enthusiasts can train more often has to do with the lighter weight load usually used at workouts. When you first begin a resistance workouts, you may use just your body weight or light dumbbells to progress your form and start the process of muscle development.
Fitness enthusiasts who aren't training for size usually use moderately heavy weights — around 50 to 60 percent of a one-rep maximum — for higher reps of 12 to 20 per two to three sets during training. These lighter weights aren't as taxing so your legs don't need as much of a recovery.
Read more: What is the Best Leg Workout for Women?
Light-Heavy Training Program
Implementing a light-heavy training program helps advanced weightlifters who have experienced training plateaus. The light-heavy program involves training legs twice a week.
Day one of your training would be your heavy day, during which you complete exercises using a heavy load for a lower repetition ranges such as six to eight reps per set at 75 to 85 percent of your one-rep maximum.
Train your legs again three or four days later using the same or different exercises. However, this time, use a lighter load for more repetitions, such as 65 to 75 percent of your one-rep maximum for eight to 12 reps per set.
This light-heavy method decreases the risk for overtraining and at the same time helps you break through a plateau.