5 training tweaks to put extra emphasis on your front thighs
Depending on your personal view of pain, leg day is either a necessary day that just plain sucks or relished because, well, it hurts. What isn’t up for debate is the idea that leg day has to follow a basic template that hits all the major lower-body muscle groups about equally.
That is, you can selectively emphasise particular areas—say, the quads, which you may want to bring up—by making some important choice over the course of your leg workout. In fact, alternating a leg workout that focuses on the quads with one that hits the glutes and hamstrings harder is one way to build greater overall lower-body thickness than following a single leg workout.
How do you turn up the heat on the quads? Let’s take a look at some easy ways; just don’t expect that exchanging squats for leg extensions is your ticket to larger front thigh mass!
- Starting with squats, to put more emphasis on the quads — at the expense of the hams and glutes—the key is to shift your centre of gravity forward.
- In that regard, the front squat is a better choice than the barbell back squat.
- Here your quads pick up more of the load as you must keep your body in a more upright position than with back squats.
- Though I’m not a fan of squatting on boards or plates, it has an effect similar to front squats, shifting your centre of gravity forward.
- That may mean your knees travel well forward of your toes, which is problematic only for individuals with knee conditions or pain.
- Using a lower foot placement on the sled with both leg presses and hack squats (or other machines that provide various foot placements) again pushes your knees over the plane coming up from your toes.
- If there’s more stress on the knees, there will also be more stress on the muscles that attach to them (the quads).
- Consider adding partial reps over the top of the range of motion—which is where the quad is most highly active—in addition to your full ROM leg work.
- One way to do this is with a technique called one and a halves: For every full rep you do, add a quarter rep over the top of the ROM.
- You can also do heavy partials, working the muscle only over the top third or so of the ROM. This allows you to overload the muscle to an even greater degree than you normally do.
- I’ve done these with hack squats: Just go partway down but put an extra 30 to 40 percent more weight on the machine than you normally do.
- Try 3 sets of 6 reps. Remember, these shouldn’t replace full-range reps but should be done in addition to them.
- Do a pre-exhaust workout for quads. While normally you start with multi-joint exercises and finish with single joint, by flipping the formula, you can get the quads highly fatigued (by doing leg extensions) first.
Now do your squats. Sure you’ll have to back off the load, but the quads will now be working overtime and you’ll guarantee that the set will end because of quad fatigue, not another muscle group.