Have you been there? You’ve had a fantastic week at the gym and you’re thoroughly enjoying it. Embracing the determination, challenges, and slight physical discomfort that typically accompanies working out. However, when leg day arrives, you are filled with apprehension about doing it.
You want to skip it but you know you can’t. You don’t want to do a painful exercise like squatting that comes with leg day even though it is one of the golden 5 exercises.
But even worse you do not want to deal with the muscle soreness in your legs when it comes to recovery time.
The morning soreness of your legs, the soreness you have from moving your body the next day, and even days later.
These are just a few of the factors I hear people complain about and I used to despise them myself when I first started to exercise and had leg day.
Luckily these things do not have to be an issue or even a problem associated with your leg day workout if you know how to approach leg day recovery.
Hopefully, after discussing key factors playing into active recovery for leg day they will not be a problem for you either.
Why Do People Hate Leg Day?
Before explaining how to resolve the issues and discomforts many experience with leg day we must first look at the struggle people have with it and why these things happen.
The biggest reason people hate leg day is because it makes your legs and sometimes your whole body so sore afterward.
This is due heavily to DOMS or delay onset muscle soreness.
DOMS is the soreness of muscles you feel usually two days after training but could last longer making even a rest day hard to bare.
Any other reasons people may hate leg day such as trouble walking and difficulty or discomfort standing up afterwards all leads back to this problem of slow recovery, muscle soreness, and discomfort of the body even far after leg day due to DOMS.
Why Does Leg Day Hurt So Bad?
So why do your legs get so sore as opposed to other muscles in your body?
Leg day hurts so bad because your legs contain some of the biggest muscles in your body along with the biggest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus.
When you workout your muscles are slowly being slightly torn apart by the exercise you are doing in order to repair and come back bigger and with greater strength.
So the bigger the muscle you are training the bigger the micro tears will have to be in order to gain benefit.
Along with the micro tears having to be bigger, the physical demand would have to be greater in order to create these larger micro tears.
This means greater the intensity and greater the strength you would have to output in order to place higher stress on the desired muscles
So with larger muscle tears than usual along with a larger amount of physical stress due to higher intensity than usual.
You might be able to imagine why leg day brings some pain and may seem to cause a larger amount of soreness in comparison to your other training days.
More wear and tear may sound like a good enough explanation as to why your leg workouts are so painful but there is another crucial factor that contributes to the painful discomfort one experiences during or after leg day.
Another reason leg day can be so painful is the fact that most people are skipping training their legs or not training them enough at least.
I have been training for a long time now and when I first started to exercise every workout made me uncomfortably sore it didn’t matter what I was training or to an extent how I was training either.
But as I progressed through my training years those old workouts stopped making me soar and eventually almost no workout could make me soar as my body has more strength than it use to and adapted to the constant stress and pain.
This is still true today as my body has become more efficient at recovery.
I can say the same thing about my legs as well. Leg workouts do not make me uncomfortably soar like they used to or even noticeably soar most of the time.
This is because my muscles are used to being under great stress very frequently.
The difference is it took me a lot longer to stop feeling the effects of a leg workout because like many others, I would make excuses.
I wouldn’t stick to it and I would exercise my legs as minimally as possible and when I did I was doing so under optimal intensity.
Once I started training my legs as often as my other muscle groups they adapted the same way those other muscles did and with time leg day did not turn me into a limping sore mess like it once did.
How Do You Recover From Leg Day?
Recovering from leg day is not very different from recovering from any other workout The key difference is other workouts may not have you as sore so a large number of remedies may not be necessary.
So how do you recover from leg day? The first thing I would do to ensure a swift recovery from leg day is stretch your legs.
Stretch them not only before but after the workout too. Doing this will help improve circulation flushing out lactic acid build-up as well as increasing transportation of nutrients to the muscle.
Another thing you should do after your workout to recover from leg day is some kind of foam rolling. When foam rolling you want to ensure enough pressure is applied to the muscles that are sore or were just worked.
This will also improve blood flow and in a way physically push the lactic acid out of your muscle, it can be a bit painful if you are really sore but it will feel like you are in a way pushing the pain (along with the lactic acid) straight out of you.
A key factor in recovering from leg day is to ensure you get enough sleep. Anyone who works out should get at very least 10 hours of sleep. This will ensure you get the proper rest you need to speed up recovery.
What Should You Eat To Recover From Leg Day?
What should you eat to recover from leg day faster? Well dietary solutions that are widely known to reduce muscle soreness still apply. Eat a high protein diet and do not forget to drink lots and lots and then even more water pre and post workout.
Focus on high protein foods such as eggs and chicken, all other meats are good choices too but chicken will give you the most protein for maximal muscle recovery, especially post workout.
Also, incorporate protein shakes into your diet, whey is one of the most beneficial sources of protein for muscle recovery.
It is always important to stay hydrated but especially when you are training, eating lots of protein and wanting your muscles to recover from a workout. Most people say you should drink 8 glasses of water a day.
This information is kind of outdated and especially if you are training you should aim for about double at 16 glasses a day.
Little Known Leg Day Remedies
A less heard of tool used for ridding muscle soreness is something called a contrast shower(or bath).
This is something I tired through someone’s advice and after trying it once I have used it every single time I experience muscle soreness since. I find this especially useful when dealing with leg day.
To do this you first apply hot water to the sore muscle (be careful not to burn yourself), soaking the muscle for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.
Then you do the same thing but this time with freezing cold water and again I’m talking as painfully freezing cold as you can handle. Repeat this alternation in water for 3 to 6 times.
This will greatly increase blood flow flushing out lactic acid but it will also help in relaxing any muscles that may be tight or cramped after a hard workout.
This method is not for everyone so take it slow and only enter water temperatures you know you can handle. It definitely will have you feeling relaxed and cured of any and all muscle soreness afterward.
Final Thoughts On Recovering From Leg Day
The bottom line still stands that if you want to recover from your intense leg day resistance training faster and be less sore from them you have to dedicate yourself and learn to enjoy training them.
You should be training your legs at least twice a week, every single week, do not skip days and then you will stop suffering from your leg workouts and learn to enjoy them even more.