Why train legs? As an Olympic lifter this sounds like a ridiculous question to me, because that's just about all I do. However, when met with this question, I couldn't find any non aesthetics based answers. If aesthetics are not the main goal and particularly strong legs don't have direct carry over to a sport, what is the argument for training legs? Male gymnasts for instance have to do lots of holds on rings and upper body type exercises where beefy legs would be a detriment to their performance. Conversely cyclists aim for as small an upper body as possible to drop weight for climbs etc.

Is there a health argument for having an upper/lower balance in training?

Not necessarily a performance benefit because that's pretty clear, asking mostly for the laymen here. If you're happy with your looks and don't feel like training legs because you like how they look, what arguments might make you reconsider? And same goes for arms. I see many women not wanna do arms because they are fine with the look of their arms, or cyclists or people in any other circumstance (not including medical problems in this) that'd make them not want to train a certain body party.

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    Is the question if there is any health detriments to have an imbalanced body frame? Because while gymnasts main focus is obviously upper body, they also have strong legs. You'd have to do some of the jumps they do or even a perfect 90 degree L-sit on rings.
    – DeeV
    Feb 4, 2021 at 14:44
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    Yeah the question is if there's a non-aesthetic (ie health or otherwise) reason to train legs.
    – E.Aigle
    Feb 4, 2021 at 14:55
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    @BruceWayne I assume OP means in sports other than lifting
    – llama
    Feb 5, 2021 at 0:02
  • Y'all are all missing the point. I train legs. It's a huge part of my training. I'm asking, for argument's sake: Let's say I meet someone who doesn't want to train legs, does only OHP, bench and lat raises (horrible plan in my opinion), I'm asking for non aesthetic based reasons to give them to train lower body. Just wondering if anyone has particularly interesting thoughts on this subject. But it seems everyone just says "you have to train legs" which is how I feel also, but I'd like something a little to back that statement, ie studies or something
    – E.Aigle
    Feb 5, 2021 at 6:54
  • FWIW, I interpreted the question as asking not just for non-aesthetic reasons but non-sport reasons too, because you wrote that you assumed "particularly strong legs don't have direct carry over to a sport". If that caveat isn't important then there's a whole class of reasons for even most specialist athletes to train legs. Feb 5, 2021 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


It's important to keep one's legs in good working order for anyone who wants to retain the ability to get out of bed, climb stairs, stand up off the toilet, walk around a hilly neighborhood, run away from a fire or other emergency, or sit down to play with a child on the floor. People who are okay not being able to do these things without someone else's help don't need to train their legs.

Training legs usually includes training the hips and lower back, too. Bone density and the ability to bend over or squat down are again only important to those few people who want to be able to pick things up off the ground, stand up after they fall down, and not break their hip in the shower. I understand that's not everyone.

Training legs is only for people who want to move pain-free into their old age. The angel of death awaits us all, and he does not usually arrive all at once.

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    So you're saying it's a preemptive thing, like prehab, to maintain bones density and mobility and ROM and stuff? Do you have anything to say about "one sided" sports like cycling?
    – E.Aigle
    Feb 4, 2021 at 14:24
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    @always_confused - Cyclists ARE training their legs. Perhaps in an unbalanced manner, but traditional strength training is hardly the only form of training. Feb 4, 2021 at 15:14
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    Yes, my point is that legs are part of the human body and human bodies require maintenance in the form of strength, mobility, and conditioning. I think cyclists, like all specialists, get benefits from the fundamentals that aren't part of their sport. Feb 4, 2021 at 15:25
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    This might be missing the quesiton though. You can do all these things you mentioned without specifically <training> for them. With training I specifcally mean resistance training in a frequent manner. If I am somewhat active and resistance-train my legs once a month I will be able to do everything you mentioned..But if I train my upper body 3x a week at the same time I will still have imbalanced muscles. Feb 4, 2021 at 21:34
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    @AccidentalTaylorExpansion Muscle balance in the functional sense only applies to antagonists, no? Balance between the calf and the shoulder is purely aesthetic. And I simply do not agree that once-a-month resistance training is sufficient to maintain healthy legs and hips. It's debatable whether it's sufficient for some minimum muscle mass (I would say not) but it's not sufficient for reliably maintaining joint function and movement patterns over time. Feb 5, 2021 at 7:36

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