I'm all about helping people understand more about exercise in general and more specifically on occasion, about certain key parts of their body and physique.
My aim is to ensure when you visit the gym, you do so safely and effectively. It's great you have taken the time to get there. Let's now ensure you absolutely max your time whilst you are there.
No self-respecting gym goer skips leg day. So if your top heavy physique means that your quads lack size, strength and definition, it's time to fix it.
You want bigger quads. Who doesn't?
The good news is that with the right exercises, your quads can blow up fast. Your body wants you to have big, strong, powerful quads. You've just got to put the work in to make them grow.
If you're serious about developing impressive, make sure you are doing these four exercises.
#1 - Barbell Front Squats
Barbell front squats provide all the muscle building stimulus of a back squat, but with more emphasis on the quads and less on the lower back, hips and hamstrings. Don't expect to push as much weight on a front squat, but if you can set aside your ego, the results will be more than worth it.
To minimise stress on the shoulders and wrists, front squats should be performed with a cross hand grip and the bar resting on the fleshy part of the front of your shoulders. Your feet should be facing slightly outwards, shoulder width apart. Squat down low - you should be able to get greater depth on a front squat - then drive back up, engaging your core and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement to maintain hip alignment.
Front squats are a great exercise for delivering a serious 'pump' to the quads. If this is your goal, add them to the end of your workout and do sets of high volume. 15 - 20 reps, with low rest periods, until your quads are screaming for mercy.
If strength is your goal, perform Front Squats near the start of your workout as your 'big lift,' working in the 6 - 8 rep range.
For a quad busting superset, you can also add front squats straight onto the end of your back squat. Perform your usual back squat in the 8 - 10 rep range, then rack the bar. Have a partner take off some plates so the weight is halved, then step straight into a front squat and perform another 8 - 10 reps. It hurts, but it works.
#2 - Trap bar deadlifts
Caught somewhere between a squat and a deadlift, Trap bar deadlifts recruit the quads much more effectively than a straight bar deadlift. For most lifters, they also allow a greater load than a squat or deadlift, providing some serious muscle building stimulus to help grow your quads (and the rest of your legs, for that matter).
To hit the quads most efficiently, keep your back straight and drive through the hips as you lift the bar. Performing trap bar deadlifts when you are bent over is great for recruiting the glutes and hamstrings, but they're not our main area of focus right now. Trap bar deadlifts with a straight back require more knee bend, so the quads take most of the strain on the concentric component of the lift.
Trap bar deadlifts work best in a lower rep range of 5 - 8. Go heavy, and watch yourself grow.
Front squats and trap bar deadlifts are the two best big compound movements for quad growth. Add them to your programme, then compliment them with some isolation exercises like 3 and 4 to make your quads really pop.
#3 - Leg extensions
The biggest mistake of the average gym goer looking to build their quads is swapping their big compound movements (like squats) for isolation exercises (like leg extensions).
The second biggest mistake is ignoring isolation exercises altogether.
Compound exercises are a must for creating a big testosterone pumping, muscle building stimulus that only comes from lifting big weights on multi-joint lifts (such as the bench, squat and deadlift). However, the quads are a unique muscle group that can take a ton of volume, which is where isolation exercises come in.
Performing isolation exercises such as leg extensions at the end of a workout are a great way to exhaust every last muscle fibre in the quads. It's almost impossible to do this through squatting alone; your central nervous system and joints will pack up long before your quads are truly done.
What's more, leg extensions are great for creating a serious 'pump' in the quads, increasing blood flow and flooding them with muscle building nutrients.
At the end of your next leg workout, hop on the leg machine and exhaust your quads with sets of 15 - 20 on a moderate weight. Maintain continuous motion, and don't lock your knees at the top of the movement. Keep going until you feel like your quads are about to explode.
#4 - Single leg presses
Single leg movements are great for increasing mind-muscle connection, linking up crucial neurone pathways that will stimulate muscle growth. Not only that, single leg pressing moves the focus away from the glutes and hamstrings and puts more emphasis on the quads, especially when the foot is kept low on the press plate.
Don't go too heavy on single leg work; like leg extensions, they are best kept at the end of your workout. Maintain continuous motion and do not lock your knee at the top of the movement. Perform 10 - 12 reps each leg with moderate weight, and keep the rest periods fairly low.
An alternative to a single leg press is a Bulgarian split squat, with a dumbbell in each hand and your back foot elevated on a bench. Just be sure to drive up through the heel of your front foot to maintain stability and maximum tension in the quad throughout the movement.
Aim to hit the quads twice each week to provide enough stimulus for growth. Train hard, eat well, and watch your wheels blow up!
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Twitter - @jameshaskellhf