Six Steps to Bigger Quads
Admit it, your quadriceps are in need of a major fix. Use the oft-neglected front squat as the backbone of an eight-week program to blow up your legs.
The Fine Print
The first six weeks of this program will likely have stimulated noticeable gains in quad size and your front squat strength will likely have skyrocketed. What to do now? Well, you certainly won’t abandon the Smith-machine front squat, but you’ll change where it’s placed in your workout. Counterintuitively, you’ll move it to the end of your routine, where strength and sheer will have likely abandoned you. But again, the luxury of the Smith machine is that it allows you to challenge yourself safely. Here, you’ll use the front squat as a quad finisher, performing sets of 20 lighter-weight reps to flood your thighs with blood and nutrients ⎯ a veritable leg “pump” that will highlight every earned striation and widen every hard-working blood vessel your legs have to offer. This type of training will also recruit more muscle fibers ⎯ as your slow-twitch fibers begin to fatigue on such higher-rep sets, your fast-twitch fibers will come in to play, even though the resistance is significantly reduced. If you overshoot with the weight and can only complete, say, 15 reps, simply rack the weight, pause for 10–20 seconds and continue until you reach 20. You’ll do this for a grand total of five widow-making sets before dragging yourself out of the gym.
While the focus of the Quad Rehab program may be on the Smith-machine front squat, it’s still replete with the traditional leg builders that you’ve come to know and, uh, love.
The leg press, like the Smith front squat, allows you to move heavy loads without the fear of a bar crushing you like an empty beer can. It also eliminates the need to stabilize weight, allowing you to better target your quads. You can increase that benefit by keeping your feet placed more centrally on the platform ⎯ the higher you place your feet, the greater the involvement of your glutes and hamstrings, so keep your feet on the lower side of the foot plate.
The machine squat also allows you to train safely with a heavy weight. Stuffed into the middle of the workout, your focus should be on form and technique. Again, foot placement is important ⎯ be mindful of keeping your heels beneath you rather than out in front of you. For every few inches that your feet are out in front of you, you reduce the emphasis on your quads significantly.
You’ll get away from machine moves with the dumbbell lunge after the machine squat. Simply grab a pair of dumbbells and a small patch of real estate, and alternate lunge steps in place, being careful not to extend your forward knee past the vertical plane that comes up from your toes. Take caution when selecting your weight ⎯ this normally innocent move can become more challenging when your legs are already fatigued.
The addition of leg extensions and lying leg curls provides some lighter, targeted, isolation work at the end of the routine to provide the finishing touches to your workout. The exception, of course, is in the final two weeks when you’ll follow these two moves with your high-rep Smith front squat work.
Getting bulked, striated quads involves a little bit of sacrifice, we all know that. It requires that you step out of the comforts of your current routine, gut through the burn, feel nauseous, eat, rest and then do it all over again next week. This front squat-focused routine is certain to reinvigorate your leg training and give you a set of quads that you can be proud of ⎯ even if you have to go through hell to get them. So it’s time to check in: Quad Rehab starts today.
Quad Rehab Split
During Quad Rehab, you’ll train legs at the start of the week, when you’re freshest. Then, you’ll take two full days off from the gym ⎯ no cardio allowed ⎯ to allow for maximum recovery. Trust us, you’ll need it. More familiar training days follow before you start anew the next week. Once per week for a new set of quads? You’ll take it; we’re sure.
Chest, biceps, abs
Quad Rehab Routine
Use this progressive, eight-week program to build a Hall of Fame set of quads. Rest 1–3 minutes between all sets, except during negatives training in Weeks 3–4, when longer rest may be required.
Smith Machine Front Squat: 3 x 8-12
Leg Press: 3 x 8-12
Squat Machine: 3 x 8-12
Leg Extension: 3 x 12
Lying Leg Curl: 3 x 12
Tab2 content here.
Tab3 content here.
Leg Press: 4 x 6-8
Squat Machine: 4 x 6-8
Leg Extension: 3 x 10
Lying Leg Curl: 3 x 10
Smith Machine Front Squat: 5 x 20