Men are Neglecting Lower Body in Workouts

3 Minute Read

An HFE tutor with a group of smiling fitness students
An HFE tutor with a group of smiling fitness students

New research from Sweatband has revealed that legs are the most neglected muscle groups when it comes to working out. The majority of men polled by the sports equipment retailer admitted they place more emphasis on their upper body as they believe it provides the most aesthetic appeal.

The study polled 1,423 males who regularly exercise as part of ongoing research into the nation’s exercise habits. The most commonly exercised muscle among those polled was the chest (66%), while the calves were the least focused areas: 34% confessed to neglecting this muscle group during a workout.

Respondents were asked: when working out, do you believe that you focus your efforts on some areas of your body more than others? 62% admitted they did, while 38% said they were satisfied that their routine was balanced. Following this question, the men were then asked to identify their main area of focus while exercising in the gym. The top responses were:

• Upper body weights focused – 31%
• A mix of cardio and weight training – 24%
• Full body weights focused – 22%
• Cardio only – 15%
• Lower body weights focused – 8%

Those that answered upper body weight were questioned further on why they focused on this specific area. 62% explained they felt this type of training yielded the most ‘visibly noticeable results to others’. Interestingly, the majority of those that focused on lower body weights (52%) explained they did so to ‘improve sporting strength and technique’.

when questioned further as to why they focused on this specific area, 62% explained they felt this type of training yielded the most visibly noticeable results to others

Further specifics of their exercise routines were then looked at as respondents were asked which muscle groups they felt they worked out most. The results revealed that the most commonly focused on muscle groups were:

  1. Chest – 66%
  2. Triceps – 54%
  3. Biceps – 51%
  4. Shoulders (deltoids) – 47%
  5. Abs – 44%

Participants were then asked to identify their least exercised muscle groups:

  1. Lower legs (calves) – 34%
  2. Gluteal muscles – 32%
  3. Upper legs (quads/hamstrings) – 31%
  4. Lower back – 29%
  5. Middle back (rhomboids) – 27%

Other results of the study gave an interesting insight into the exercise routines of the men surveyed. 42% said they felt that some muscle groups ‘provided more noticeable results’ and preferred to focus on those that paid off. 33% admitted they just ‘stuck to a set routine’ and did not include enough variety to encompass all muscle groups. A very honest 31% confessed they stuck to muscle groups that were ‘easier’ to work out, while 28% said they felt ‘too self-conscious to exercise new muscle groups’.

Finally, the study looked into the main motivating factors for working out. 56% revealed ‘looking good’ was their biggest deciding factor and a further 61% said they focus on the muscle groups that give them the best aesthetic appeal.

“You can walk around the majority of gyms and spot straight away the people that fail to work on their legs,” says Maz Darvish, CEO of “The legs are some of the biggest muscle groups in the body so there is a real benefit to be had from dedicating exercise time to these areas. With bigger muscle mass improving metabolism, you’ll notice the difference all over your body if you increase your leg size.”


Lee Cain

Lee Cain

Writer, Tutor and Experienced Fitness Professional

Lee has over 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry and has performed multiple roles, including physical training instructor, strength and conditioning coach, lecturer, writer, tutor, assessor and verifier for vocational qualifications. He has a passion for all things exercise, with his key specialisms being strength and performance-based training.

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