As a true bodybuilder, you know how important it is to train your legs. Not only do well-developed quads ensure that your physique looks complete, but they also give you functional strength and power that you can use in your daily activities.
Whether you need to build all-around power, want to focus on bringing out that quad sweep, or are looking for sheer size, there is an exercise that will fit the bill perfectly.
Let’s take a closer look at our great moves for monster quads you should start including in your lower body days immediately.
When it comes to lower body moves, the squat is a staple exercise. This is one of the top exercises for building power, endurance, and sheer determination. After a hard set of squats, you’ll see just how much it takes to push through that final rep.
To really put the focus on the quads, consider the front squat variation. When you place the barbell across your back, you’re going to get more glute and hamstring activation. While there’s nothing wrong with this, if quads are your focus, it’s not ideal.
Having the weight in front of the body changes the target muscles to the quads. While this is a quad dominant exercise, your hamstrings and glutes won’t be ignored. They’ll still act as secondary muscles, helping you get through the set.
In addition to the lower body focus, front squats will activate your core. All the little stabilizer muscles play a role as they contract hard to keep your body upright.
How To Perform:
Begin standing in front of a squat rack with the bar racked just below shoulder level.
- Stand against the bar so you’re resting it across the collarbone, placing hands on either side of the shoulders slightly wider than shoulder width apart using an overhand grip.
- Press the weight up as you extend the knees and move into a full standing position.
- Once balanced, bend the knees and lower down into a squat position, bending the knees as far down as you can go.
- Pause in the lowered position and then press up to complete the rep.
Leg Extension (Toes Turned In)
Next up is the leg extension. While this exercise is not designed to help build maximum power or strength, it’s great for isolating the quads and dialing in on your quad sweep. If you want to make that outer portion of your quad bigger, this is a great exercise to include.
When doing this exercise, you’ll want to perform it with the toes pointing inward, which will then place more emphasis on that outer quad muscle.
As this is an isolation exercise, it will focus strictly on the quad itself, so you won’t get much other muscle stimulation while performing it.
How To Perform:
Sit in a leg extension machine so that you are comfortable, with your shins tucked under the footpad. Your knees should be at a right angle to allow you to perform a full range of motion.
- Sitting upright, turn the legs so the feet point slightly inward.
- Contract the quads and then lift the legs up so the knees begin to extend.
- Continue lifting until the knees are straight but not hyperextended.
- Hold here for a brief moment if you can, then lower the weight back down to complete the rep.
- Continue until all reps are completed, moving with control and focusing the tension in the quads – not your knee joint.
Barbell Walking Lunges
Another great strength and muscle building exercise, the barbell walking lunge is a perfect move to add to your day once you finish with your large, compound exercises, such as squats. The great thing about the barbell walking lunge is that you’ll be working each leg individually, meaning a stronger side cannot compensate for a weaker side. Instead, you’ll help ensure that both muscles are evenly balanced.
The barbell walking lunge is going to emphasize the quads, and will also recruit the glutes and hamstrings. Your core muscles will be put to work as they contract to keep your body balanced throughout the exercise.
If you want to place a little more emphasis on the quads while doing this move, take smaller steps as you lunge forward. This will shift the weight forward, ensuring that your quads do the work. It’s also a fantastic exercise to help improve your balance and agility.
How To Perform:
Get into an upright position with a barbell placed across the back of your shoulders, holding it on either side of the bar using an overhand grip, like a traditional squat position.
- Once you’ve found your balance, take one step forward about a foot or two (a comfortable distance for your height).
- Place the foot on the ground and then begin bending both knees as you lower the back knee down to the ground.
- Pause when it’s almost touching the ground and then begin to straighten the knees again, returning to your standing position.
- Bring the back leg forward and step it ahead of the other, repeating the rep with this leg.
- Continue alternating legs, walking across the floor as you do. Make sure to keep the back upright at all times.
Finally, the last of the quad builders that you should include in your plan is the leg press. If you’re unable to squat, due to injury or mobility reasons, the leg press is a great substitute.
The nice thing about the leg press is that you can alter how you place your feet on the footpad, which can easily change the targeted muscle groups taking the stress of the exercise. You can get an intense workout and hit all major muscle groups of the lower body with this machine.
If your feet are placed high on the footpad, you’ll get more glute and hamstring activation. Placing them lower will switch the pressure to the quads. If you want to target the outer quad muscle to improve your quad sweep, a low and close foot placement is your best bet. By putting the feet almost next to each other, you’re going to distribute more force on the quads themselves. It’s a challenging and versatile exercise for your legs.
How To Perform:
Position yourself in the leg press machine, back flat against the back pad and feet low on the footpad, placed close together.
- Keeping the abs tight, press the weight away from you, maintaining the foot position at all times.
- Extend the knees until straight but not locked.
- Slowly lower the weight back down, bending the knees and keeping them moving over the toes.
- Bring the knees as close to the body as you can comfortably go, and then press the weight back up to complete the next rep.
- Continue until all reps are finished.
These four exercises will help you bring your quads to the next level. You may not want to do all four every workout, but it’s a great idea to rotate between them so you’re hitting all the muscle groups in your quads.
Below you’ll find a quad focused lower body workout to try next time you’re in the gym. It is comprehensive, hitting the quads, hamstrings, and calves, to ensure your entire leg gets a great workout.
|Barbell Walking Lunges||4||10 per leg|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||15|
|Seated Calf Raise||5||8|
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