Most people hate leg day and that is with good reason as it is very exhausting and taxing on the body. This also makes it your most calorie shredded working because of these big muscle groups that you are bringing to exhaustion.
So why are my legs giving out after workout?
There can be many variables that go into your legs giving out and one of them is hydration. The other two main reasons why are nutrient deficiency and overtraining. Don't forget to put extra emphasis on stretching as well and moving around to keep that blood flow going through your legs so they recover quicker.
If your legs are immediately giving out after a workout that is quite normal for a high intensity squat session since your quads are the main muscle that you use. Quadriceps are also the main muscle involved with keep you up right when standing. Focus on getting nutrients in before your session along with water. Maybe take a pre-workout and even a dose of protein probably go with casein based and save whey for right after. Another natural supplement you can use is Creatine that is very cheap and will help with muscle recovery.
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What Does It Mean When Your Legs Give Out?
So we didn't want you to only take our word for it so we went out and gathered information from different websites, forums, sub Reddits, and Facebook Groups. These are all responses of real lifters and fitness people dealing with leg fatigue mostly after their workouts. This was curated so nothing has been changed besides any spelling and grammar where needed.
Real People Opinions
1. HarbourAce “Normal” – Dude I can barely walk down stairs after I've done a heavy leg day. I've honestly gotten to the point where I just hit sets till I feel that way.
2. NDL816 “Normal” – That’s normal. I once stepped off a curb after leg day and my leg just gave way until I was basically crawling
3. SanchoLoamsDown “Stretch, Stretch, Stretch” – I’ve found that a leisurely stretching session helps with this. If I were to go directly from lifting to walking out the gym door I would probably be flopping all over the place but I feel like stretching and foam rolling has helped me, and it’s totally possible that it’s just because I am resting the muscles and giving them a chance to find the bearings. I am not an expert by any means, this is just an observation I’ve notice about my own body.
4. EmeryStones “It Happens” – It happened to me once in high school. My legs just dropped while walking through the cafeteria and everyone started freaking out like i'd passed out but i was just basically kneeled down and couldn't stand up on my own. My friends helped me up and I just sat down for like 15 minutes and it seemed to be alright after. I had a few scares through the rest of the day when going up/down stairs thinking “what if it happens RIGHT NOW” it didn't thankfully.
5. _PieceByPiece “Matter of conditioning” – Had a similar issue when I stopped working legs for 4 weeks after an injury. Came back, did 5 sets total for quads and I was DONE. Usually I did like 9 and heavier. Had the worst DOMS for 6 days, but the next leg session felt a great lot easier and it didnt hurt that long afterwards. Its just a matter of conditioning.
6. DreadlordMortis “Keep moving” – It happens. It goes away. ESPECIALLY early on, leg day usually is the one that hits you hardest. Counterintuitively, a second leg session tomorrow might serve to reduce soreness some. Keep the weight light, just get in, break a little sweat, get the blood moving some, get out. I found that hitting legs twice a week significantly reduces soreness and overall duration of the soreness. Aren't really any studies to back it up, but plenty of anecdotal evidence that support it as a legit strategy, and some solid bro science reasoning to explain the why.
7. MisterGrip “Focus On Nutrition” – You can reduce the severity of DOMS through managing your nutrition to speed recovery. Your body needs bricks to rebuild fast – protein and fat, and plentiful antioxidants.
8. HitItHarder1234 “DOMS normal” – Welcome to leg day. Every time I take a break from working legs, the DOMS lasts for about 2-3 days post workout. The trainer probably should have had you do some functional stretching before and some light stretching after to help reduce some of the soreness. However, you worked muscles in a way you typically wouldn’t through just cardio, so the soreness is normal. DOMS will get shorter over time if you keep working legs. A foam roller and walking will help reduce some of the acute pain in the meantime, but since this was your first session it will take your muscles longer to recover.
9. Oliviars37 “Stretch and move” – Stretching afterwards will most definitely help with the soreness the next day. Also, it seems counterintuitive, but working out again today to get your muscles warmed up will help with the soreness as well. Just don’t overdo it. And the next-day soreness will lessen the more you work out! Keep at it!
10. Ceimi “Keep moving and max protein” – When I was in high school, my P.E. teacher would always tell me that the best way to get rid of soreness from working out was to just keep working out. Its definitely normal for you to be so sore you start to walk funny. Stretch, take a nice warm bath, and get right back into working out the next day. Also, make sure you are getting enough protein!
Around 87% of our results (123 responses) said it is completely normal for your legs to give out after an intense leg session. The two main things that over 94% mentioned is paying attention to your nutrition (protein intake) and keep moving. This moving doesn't really mean going for a run so you can hurt yourself. Get on a bike get that blood flowing to help speed up that recover. 39% mentioned Stretching which I believe is just as important as all of them especially if you are older. I never stretched outside of sports so lifting I never really did any of that. I was told too never listened well later on that led to numerous injuries.
So do the following to speed up recovery:
- Nutrition – take in extra protein, carbs, fat and antioxidants
- Keep Moving – another workout or at least get on that bike
- Stretching – extra stretching both ballistic and static
Jelly Legs After Exercise
So if you get those jelly legs after exercising make sure you take the correct measures. It all starts with your nutrition take in an additional recovery shake that will have a combination of carbs and protein. Smoothies can be the best way to go to get that calorie intake you need along with all natural fruit and veggies.
DOMS “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” is normal for weightlifters especially that first day when you really push the limits with squats. You are going to feel it days later.
Stretch as much as you possible can doing both ballistic and static stretches. I would say at least in the morning and before bed. The old wise tail about not stretching out before your muscles are warm is not correct. Don't pull your muscles too hard until you rip something when you feel the tension that is enough. Leave there and count to at least 20.
Moving should be your main go to. Anytime you are sitting down for an extended period of time after working your legs out guess what you are going to have a hard time moving around at first until your legs get warmed up. Get a recumbent bike or spin bike jump on it for a few minutes it will make a huge difference.