I always joke that when it comes to my workouts, no day is leg day. And by “joke”, I mean completely tell the truth.
When training as an aerialist, so much of what we do demands upper body strength. The stronger the upper body, the better. Pull-ups? Every single day. But legs? Well, if you can keep your legs straight and point your toes, you’re pretty much good to go. And I can do both of those things very well!
It’s been a long time coming, and I’m fully aware that it is time to make legs a priority part of my workouts. As we know, gravity is the enemy of everyone over 40, and I need to work hard to keep my tushy (and skin) moving in the right direction. Also, my future mobility and flexibility will greatly benefit from keeping my lower body strong and mobile today. And let’s be clear: my lack of lower body strength is simply embarrassing.
Lately I’ve been training at a local gymnastics strength training center and really enjoy the classes. They’re full body workouts, so you devote a little bit of time to each muscle group over the 60 minute class. I’ve joked with the instructors about my aversion to legs, and have intentionally not added weights to lunges or squats because a.) I am a major wuss, and b.) I want to see how my body reacts to incorporating lower body exercises and adjust accordingly, as opposed to overdoing it and not being able to walk for a week.
Last night, I took a class that had us working on single leg squats. Dude, I knew I was in trouble after the first set. I couldn’t even make it half way down into the squat – and this included me holding on to the stall bar. I felt my legs and glutes turn to jello as everyone else in the class rocked through their sets with ease. Then I started to panic – I walked to the gym from my apartment. But would I be able to make the .3 mile / seven minute walk home? Seriously, it was that bad (and while I contemplated getting a Lyft, I did manage to painfully make the walk home).
How I feel today is nothing short of embarrassing. My ass hurts. My hamstrings hurt. My quads hurt. (my abs and upper body feels great though!). How can I call myself an athlete when the most basic of lower body work knocks me out? Squatting down to open a drawer in my refrigerator was excruciating. Getting up from my chair is equally challenging.
Friends, it’s that bad.
So, let’s call this a wake up call. Time to take my lower body training more seriously (and by “more seriously”, I mean do something — anything — that can be considered a lower body exercise). And I’ll start as soon as I regain feeling in my ass.