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Why Are Upper Body Workouts More Popular than Leg Day?


Only crazy people love training legs, that is not a fact but an opinion. But all the same let’s agree that people who enjoy training legs are the minority.

The gym bro who spends all of their time training upper body and neglecting their legs has become so well known that it is now a cliché.

But even though people know that avoiding legs is not going to produce satisfactory results and may lead to them getting laughed at – they still don’t train them.[toc]

Why Training Legs Sucks

There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that training legs sucks! It doesn’t matter who you are, barbell squatting a heavy weight is not enjoyable. It is hard work, and humans will naturally try to avoid unpleasant or difficult tasks by any means necessary.

Squats and deadlifts and the like are difficult, very technical exercises that can take you right out of your comfort zone – this is why they are so effective, but it doesn’t make them any more enjoyable!

If you’re deadlifting enough weight you’ll be spending a lot of your rest time lying on the floor trying not to throw up! That is not something that happens when you train arms now is it?

These exercises also tend to be slightly riskier than most upper body exercises.

How many guys do you know who injured their back after a really heavy lat pulldown? None right? But deadlifts? At least a few people probably spring to mind.

Obviously you can still hurt yourself with upper body exercises, and it is unlikely that a well-trained lifter will injure themselves squatting, but due to the fact that legs are so often ignored injuries can strike when people train them properly for the first time in ages.

Another big downside to training legs is DOMS.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is one of the most irritating and uncomfortable side effects of training, and whilst upper body DOMS is challenging … the day after leg day is definitely worse.

Not being able to walk properly, not being able to sit down, or stand back up. Cramping up whilst lying in bed trying to sleep, and forget about using the toilet!

All of this can happen after a hard legs session when you’ve neglected them for so long. The fear of lower body DOMS really does put a lot of people off. The fact that frequently training legs will negate the effects of DOMS is besides the point.

The Real Reason Why

Don't Skip Leg Day

But whilst all of the above reasons are perfectly correct, they slightly miss the real reason why lots of guys don’t train legs. The reason is that the legs aren’t really a mirror muscle.

Unless you walk around all day in short-shorts or are a Chippendales dancer your upper legs and glutes aren’t likely to be on show.

Whereas your biceps, triceps and – let’s face it – chest are. Every time you are performing a bicep curl you can see your muscles getting bigger.

You can imagine what they will look like 6 months from now and it motivates you to keep going.

If you have tiny arms then you can’t hide them, and when you do get big arms people notice.

The same is not true of legs, particularly if you wear a lot of jeans. When you are deadlifting you aren’t thinking about how amazing your erector spinae are going to look, because nobody can see your erector spinae and they wouldn’t care anyway!

What about Women?

Whilst a lot of men avoid legs like the plague the same cannot be said for women.

Lots of women train legs all the time, in fact for women it is the opposite that tends to be true. Instead of training chest and arms all the time whilst ignoring legs, they tend to train legs all the time whilst ignoring the upper body.

Of course this is not true for all women, but then neither is the opposite true for all men. But this article is dealing in stereotypes here so let’s stick to them.

So women enjoy training legs for probably the same reason that men enjoy training arms, it’s the area that they care about. Women want a great pair of legs in the same way that men want a huge set of biceps.

Another reason other than vanity is that women and men are a lot closer in terms of strength when it comes to the lower body.

Squats and leg presses can end up being a girl’s showcase exercise (often beating a lot of men if she’s spent a lot of time working on it), whereas 90% of the time a guy can beat a girl on the bench press due to men having a much more developed upper body (thanks to testosterone levels).


Whatever your excuses for not training legs, stop using them.

You want to train both legs and upper body regularly if you want the best results. Particularly if fat loss or strength are your main goals.



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