Which Day is Leg Day? Social Insights On Gym Goers’ Online Habits Topic Analysis

By Kristian Bannister on May 25th 2017

Regular full body workouts aren’t the common fitness advice of the internet. If you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle and punch your way through a forest, the internet will return a matrix of complex workout regimes.

Many of these are just trying to sell a $67 ‘shredded in 7 days’ ebook on Instagram, or lure you to their ‘Crossfit Memes’ Facebook page to scrape your demographic information. A few communities do sincerely feel as if they’ve cracked the formula, and become disciples of a specific workout plan.

Some recommend excessive cardio on an empty stomach. Some focus on lifting very heavy weights in five distinct ways, and offer an app to help you through it. Most commonly, the self-taught experts on bodybuilding forums and message boards will advise on some kind of ‘split’, or ‘bro-split’. This involves working out a specific muscle group on a specific day.

Over the last two years, people have shared these workouts over 2 million times on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and even 4chan’s fitness ‘/fit’ imageboard. We’ve captured this data, using the blazing-fast new interface, to find some patterns.

Bar chart showing mentions of different workout days, such as 'leg day' or 'arm day', covering the January 2015 to May 2017 period

New Years Resolutions don’t stick, we’ve confirmed that with our earlier research. Over last year, workout-related posts decreased by 50%. In January, people shared their workouts over 100,000 times – in December it was 53,503.

That’s still a huge amount of social capital. Yet, not all workouts were created equal. Isolating legs (hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps) received seven times more mentions than its closest competitior – chest day. 

By digging into the data a little further, the reason for leg day’s massive popularity online is revealed. Novice aesthetically minded bodybuilders tend to place all their efforts in working the upper body. This has been called foolish and short-sighted by veteran forum posters. Skipping ‘leg day’ is a cardinal sin in these communities. Therefore, when gym goers successfully hit the squat rack, they tell people about it.

Also, we found many posts that mentioned two muscle groups in the same day. Such as ‘chest and back day’, or ‘arm and abs’ day. We didn’t count these in the totals below. ‘Leg day’, however, was rarely mentioned in conjunction with other muscle groups.

Bar chart showing that leg day is the most talked about workout day by a huge margin, followed by chest day, back day, arm day, shoulder day, and abs day

Depending on which day you hit the gym, the popular equipment will vary.

Most gym goers have their own personal routine which they repeat, week-in, week-out. Start the week with chest, go easy on weekends, squats on Wednesday, et cetera. They might think it’s unique to them, but they’re wrong.

Using Brandwatch Analytics’ charting tools, we can plot which day of the week each workout is most likely to fall on. Take a look at the chart below, and see if it looks similar to your (or your fitness evangelist friend’s) routine.Line chart comparing volume of mentions for specific workout days, like 'leg day' or 'back day'.

Squatting on leg day reaches a distinct peak on Wednesday. That near-holy ritual of trying to do a half-sit while carrying something really heavy isn’t attempted on weekends. In fact, workouts in general see a bit of a slump at the weekend and pick up mid-week.

The chest (strained by bench presses, flyes, wide pushups, and pullovers) is the exception. By a significant margin, it rises on Monday. To a novice, there’s no obvious reason for this. To an experienced gym goer (like we’ve been stalking this whole article) it’s obvious: chest day is fun.

As the chest muscles are larger than, for example, arms, you can move a much heavier weight. That means looking cooler in the gym, getting more immediate post-workout swole and turning more heads when you hit shower.

Put more eloquently by internet poet Noel Castanza:

Learning that chest day is best day can be enlightening for folks trying to take advantage of the energized, rabid fitness community on social media. With middle-sized fitness niche pages charging up to $10,000 per endorsement, there’s bound to be a lot of money thrown away by people who don’t understand it. So, save those squatting memes for a Wednesday.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email us at react@brandwatch.com

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Kristian Bannister

Kristian is a Senior Marketing Manager at Pure360, an email marketing technology company. He writes about customer experience, consumer behavior, and marketing. He's also a former Brandwatcher.