Not being able to walk and down the stairs the day after leg day is sometimes a good indicator of a successful leg day. Though, is muscle soreness enough of an indicator? What if the growth in your quads is slow while your glutes and hamstrings are stealing the show?
Sure, part of developing your lower body is to grow your other leg muscles and posterior chain too, but your quads can often become unintentionally neglected.
When it comes to growing our legs and building monstrous quads, certain training exercises, variations, and intensity strategies are key. There are many ways to minimize the focus on your posterior chain and glutes while maximizing the emphasis on your quads—and all will be discussed in this article!
Keep reading to find out our top 10 tips for building bigger quads!
Top 10 Tips for Building Bigger Quads
1) Start with squats
The kind of compound movements for your legs. Squats are a no-brainer for building bigger quads. Ideally, starting with squats is a good idea, as this would be the strength component of your workout.
Playing around a little with basic foot position and stance will be even more beneficial to working your quads. Working on a rep range of around 6 or less for a few sets will focus on building strength in your legs as a whole.
Pyramid your way up to your working weight and ensure you have a spotter on hand to help you push your personal best with your reps and weight!
2) Compound your quads
While there are many ways to isolate your quads on various machines, the hack squat machine probably takes the trophy here as the most effective.
Low foot placement on the machine will target the quads to a much greater extent, as it will increase the degree of knee flexion/extension. Whereas a high foot placement will reduce the flexion/extension, thus taking the emphasis off the quads.
To really boost the intensity and overall muscle development, aim for a rep range of around 8-10 for the hack squat, which you’d ideally perform after your squats!
3) Reap the leg press gains
The leg press is another machine which puts much emphasis on the quads. Again, the foot placement is key here too, as you want your feet to be placed in a higher position.
A lower foot placement takes more of the focus off the quads, so keep them low if you want to grow. A closer foot position also targets the outer quads, while a wider position targets the inner thighs, meaning you can work to exhaust all areas of your quads on this machine.
4) Partial reps are your friends
If you see anyone doing partial reps in the gym, you often think they may have poor form or can’t handle the weight. However, partial reps can sometimes be intentional when combined with full reps.
As you may know, the deeper the squat, the more you work your glutes and hamstrings. Therefore, doing a squat before you’re parallel to the floor may be more beneficial for enhancing your quads.
Your quads are working for the majority of the first part of a squat, so isolating the rep to just that portion of the movement can really zero in on your quad building.
This means that you can actually lift heavier, as you won’t be in a compromised position below parallel, where you cannot stand a weight back up. Load up the bar and try out some partial reps, though always remember to combine them with full reps too at some point during your workout!
5) Isolate your quads
After you have exhausted most of your leg strength on big movements such as squats and presses, it’s time to dial in on the isolating, single-joint movements to really work every muscle fibre.
Aim for higher rep ranges here, around 10-12 reps per leg, which will work your muscles to fatigue and failure while targeting all areas of your leg with minimal input from your posterior chain.
6) Utilize the pre-exhaust method
This is a slightly different strategy than starting with squats and continuing to lighter isolation movements. This strategy involves working your quads to failure before you even begin your workout.
It entails doing single-joint movements before you do your big compound movements such as squats. Doing so means that your quads start off fairly pumped and your glutes and hamstrings are still fresh and not engaged.
This now means that the glutes and hamstrings are far stronger compared to your quads and will be able to sustain themselves during a given set. This would then prolong your set, thus working your quads to a more intense level before they are limited by another muscle group.
7) Train legs post-rest day
This one is simply common sense—you ideally wouldn’t train legs a day or two after leg day as they will be sore, fatigued, and not 100% recovered. Not only would this be detrimental to your gains, but training unrecovered muscles could also lead to injuries.
Do your leg day after a full rest day, completely fresh. This means that your legs would have had sufficient rest, nutrition, and replenishment before the session!
8) Work to failure
Training to failure on leg day can be tricky without a training partner, as you don’t want to be stuck in the bottom of a squat trying to squeeze out one last rep to failure. Ideally, get a spotter on your squats to help you complete forced reps.
However, on the more isolating movements, there are definitely some great strategies that will ensure you work to failure, safely.
Dropsets and supersets are popular strategies which involve dropping weight off by 20-30% and doing reps till failure or doing exercises back-to-back with no rest. These are great burners and finishers, which will ensure you’re working your quads to failure!
9) Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!
Working super hard in the gym to build your quads will be a waste of energy and time if you haven’t got your nutrition nailed down.
Building bigger quads means building muscle mass, which takes a lot of time, effort, consistency, and an effective nutrition strategy.
When our body is building muscle mass through resistance training, it needs energy for this process. This means you need to be consuming an adequate number of calories and protein that align with your body goals.
Consider your pre- and post-workout nutrition too, ensuring you’re fueled for leg day and are taking steps to fully recover over the following days.
While supplements are not necessary for building bigger quads, they can definitely help provided you have your training and nutrition plan dialled in.
Building bigger quads may mean building muscle mass and losing fat. To do this, nutrition and training will play the biggest role. However, a supplement such as Burn Lab Pro would also contribute to your muscle gains, training performance, and fat burn.
Burn Lab Pro makes it faster and easier to achieve your goals through maximizing fat burn, retaining lean muscle, and helping to enhance your training performance and gains.
Other supplements you may want to consider which can help optimize lean muscle growth in any area of your body include creatine, whey protein, and a pre-workout.
Leg day is what sets apart the boys from the men in the gym. Skipping leg day is considered a crime in the gym world, though we can understand.
Leg day is a grueling session and can sometimes be even more grueling in the following days. It’s an even bigger kick in the teeth when we don’t see the results we want to see!
Growing your glutes and hamstrings is definitely a slightly easier feat than growing quads, though implementing the above tips may help boost your quad gains and really pump up your tires.
Strategies as simple as changing up foot stance and lifting technique and prioritizing nutrition and recovery may be all the tweaks you need to make in order to see the desired results.
Sometimes leg day is all about experimentation and seeing what works for you. Just remember to partner up if you can, train hard, and lift safe!