Incorporating free weights into your leg day routine is considered the superior way to train. Using machines such as the leg press isolate the primary muscles and therefore fail to engage the surrounding stabilising muscles. The stabilising muscles don’t help with moving your body, their role is simply to support the movement produced by the primary muscles. As a result of failing to engage these stabilising muscles, this can lead to muscular imbalances, pain during particular exercises and sub-optimal postures/movement patterns. Consequently, abnormal movement patterns may enhance the risk of developing future injuries. Alternatively, this can all be prevented by ensuring that free weights are incorporated into your leg day routine!
Engaging the stabilisers can also be achieved by slowing down the movement and using lower weights with higher repetitions and using the stability ball/bosu ball. Another fantastic benefit of utilising free weights is the ability to engage multiple muscle groups such as the core and back. Particularly amongst individuals who lead sedentary lifestyles, a weak back is a common issue in which training of the lower back is quite often forgotten about which can lead to further weaken the back relative to other muscle groups. Therefore, incorporating exercises such as the goblet squat, lunges and the straight leg deadlift can help to engage the lower back whilst predominantly targeting the leg muscles.