Your quads might not be in need of work as much as your glutes and hamstrings — but that doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore the front side of your upper legs to completely focus on your posterior.
Even though quads are sometimes an accessory or afterthought for leg days, the muscles are still a major key to a strong, shapely lower body. Hammering the group with a specialized workout can do wonders for your gains — especially if you’ve been avoiding the types of moves that typically address the lower body.
If you’ve suffered from knee pain for any length of time, you start to avoid the exercises that cause this pain: moves like squatting, lunging, running, and jumping.
Over time, this doesn’t help your knees. You just get weaker and your quads get smaller. The result is actually more knee pain and diminished performance!
Even if you don’t suffer from knee pain, building quads of the gods is one of the best ways to prevent knee pain. The quads work as key decelerators that absorb shock from your knees when landing from a jump or lunge or when quickly changing direction on the court or field.
From an aesthetics standpoint, an impressive set of quads is a complete game-changer. For some quadspiration, check out this photo of legendary bodybuilder Tom Platz, who was known for having the greatest quads in history.
Now, don’t expect to look like Tom. But do expect to make some serious gains.
I’ve created a routine that compiles everything I used to make my very own quad transformation shown in the photo below.
Follow this program, and you’ll be on the road to transforming your quadriceps into octaceps.
HOW IT WORKS:
Perform this routine 2 to 3 times per week exactly as outlined below. You can see me demonstrate every movement in the video above.
Hit your other muscle groups 1 to 2 times per week with just 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps of a single exercise, stopping 1 to 2 reps short of failure on each set during this time frame.
Conventional training wisdom has you start with compound movements first and save the isolation moves for later. But our goal here is not performance—it’s to build as much muscle as possible in a short period of time.
Therefore, we will be starting with a strategic single-joint movement to enhance the mind-muscle connection and pre-fatigue your targeted body part. This will allow you to “feel” the muscle working more throughout your training session.
The Quads Specialization Workout
Mobility Warmup: Do a couch stretch for for 2 to 5 minutes on each side.
1. LEG EXTENSION
The objective here is to pre-fatigue your quads and flood your knees and muscles with as much blood as possible. This will warm you up and improve your mind-muscle connection so that you “feel your quads” more throughout the remainder of your workout.
Flex your quads as hard as you can for 4 seconds at the top of each rep.
Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.
Weeks 1 and 2: 3 sets
Weeks 3 and 4: 4 sets
Weeks 5 and 6: 5 sets
2. 1.5-REP BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
With 1.5-rep training, you do twice as many reps in the bottom position of the exercise, where you are weakest. It also extends your overall time under tension to spark new muscle gain in your targeted region.
Lower all the way down into the Bulgarian split squat, come up half way, go back down again, and then come all the way up. That’s 1 rep.