For several years I had trouble getting my quads to match my upper body in terms of development and separation. That struggle lead to trying a lot of different things to get results and I want to share some tips for leg growth.
It wasn’t that my legs weren’t strong and it wasn’t that they weren’t growing quickly; they just never felt the same as when I would train my other muscle groups.
I wasn’t getting the same feeling in my quads that I’d get in my chest, back, delts, or arms from directly training them.
Everyone would always preach the same things when it came to quad development…
“Press off the heels when you press. Squats are king. Use heavy weight for power type lifts.”
I can remember the days of loading 15 plates on each side of the leg press and feeling like I was accomplishing something.
I remember being worn out from a hard leg training session and struggling to move around the following few days.
Surely I must have been hitting my quads hard right?
Well, let me let you in on a little something I discovered too late into training;
NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME GENETIC MAKEUP IN THEIR LEGS AND NOT EVERYONE’S LEGS DEVELOP FROM THE SAME STYLE OF PRESSING AND/OR SQUATTING!
That’s right, some guys can press or squat in almost any form they want and their quads just take off and grow and separate without any issues.
I never realized how much I was short-changing myself on quad development until I began watching Tom Platz train legs!
Tom Platz always pushed from his toes/balls of his feet. It was this duck looking stance where he would press off the balls of his feet.
His style of squatting and pressing looked like the exact opposite of everything I was taught about saving my knees and pressing from my legs properly.
When I actually started doing it I began feeling SO MUCH MORE IN MY QUADS!
My leg workouts went from feeling like my entire body was taking the brunt of the work to my quads actually feeling on fire from the pump!
FOOT POSITION FOR LEG DEVELOPMENT, A PROCESS OF GIVE AND TAKE!
What I found by pushing from my toes like Tom Platz always did on a leg press or squat was that I wasn’t going to slap a bunch of plates on a bar or machine just for my ego or some show for everyone to watch.
By going too heavy IT WOULD HURT MY KNEES before my quads felt fully activated.
I would start extremely light and work my way up to heavier weights.
A leg press would begin with a single 45 lb plate on each side and the foot position was lower than my knee position.
I would lower the weight until I felt a hell of a stretch in my quads, usually it would get lowered to rock bottom.
This stretch would be much more of a stretch in my quads than my old way of leg pressing.
I mention leg pressing more than squatting because although I do hit squats, I’m not a believer that you have to squat to get big legs.
I prefer the feeling of my quads actually feeling smoked and taken to muscle failure than my body giving out first before my quads got fully fatigued.
One important factor that came into play from my new foot positioning was how flexible my Achilles tendons were.
I learned that over time my Achilles tendons would become more flexible to accommodate this new positioning of my feet.
My quads quickly started becoming a good body-part and began to get more sweep and separation!
Another thing to note was that unlike my old foot positioning where I seemed to hit failure around the same point every leg workout, my new foot position began to show me that strength gains were once again on the regular!
My teardrop began taking off again and working quads no longer felt like an “all around leg builder”, but a direct quadricep engagement!
BODY-WEIGHT SQUATS VS. BODY-WEIGHT SISSY SQUATS!
If you have never tried to do 100 reps of just body-weight squats straight through, I urge you to try them! You’ll find them extremely challenging!
What I want you guys to understand is that it doesn’t always take a massive amount of workload to see results.
I frequently do 100 reps of body-weight squats as an initial pump-up exercise first thing in the workout, or possibly as a finisher at the end of a workout.
But if you can do 100 reps of body-weight squats straight through, then try 100 reps of body-weight sissy squats straight through!
A sissy squat is usually done extremely light and done while holding something to allow you to come forward with your knees first. You will be on your toes when coming forward and downward on each rep.
Your quads should feel on fire by about rep #20 for sure. I want you to think of this movement as a combination of a deep stretch and then a press!
Walk over to a bar on the smith machine or really anything to grab with at least one hand, and lower yourself down slowly to practice a few.
Once you find your groove then keep going and pump them out!
Don’t be afraid to mix and match regular body-weight squats with sissy squats. There are no rules here, you can do things like alternate for 20 reps of each until you hit 100 reps.
I had to do this for a long time because 100 reps of sissy squats with my body-weight only still felt almost impossible.
So I would do 20 deep squats with a wider stance and then I’d do 20 squats with a narrower stance and do a sissy squat motion for those reps.
It would feel like right when I got to about rep #20 with the sissy squat I’d almost have to change stance to continue going! It’s hell!
This is a great way to begin a leg workout and create one hell of a pump before you ever get into other exercises!
BODY-WEIGHT LUNGES, THE BEST EXERCISE FOR LEG GROWTH (QUADS) YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT DOING!
Guys hate doing walking lunges! It’s normally chicks you see doing them, and now that I think about it most people are doing stationary lunges.
Get rep count out of your head, go for distance instead!
Pick a space that is the longest down and back lap the gym will allow. Or a parking lot or field if the gym is too small.
Now, down and back = 1 lap.
At one of my gyms down and back is probably 60 yards. I’ll do 3-4 sets, so yea probably 200 yards or so?
You see, when it’s distance that is involved it hurts a little more to stop halfway there. It’s failure beyond failure, a true test of your mental power to keep pushing on!
Imagine that? A fucking definitive end besides just a rep count!
By the way, nothing I’m talking about is easy here.
Now, in the manner you did your presses or sissy squats will be the way you push off the ground on your leading leg!
Try it, it’ll destroy you!
Not challenging enough? Then try this:
once you drop down, come back up about 6″ and drop back down again for an extra stretch, then press all the way up! Press off the front of the foot rather than the heel.
You’ll lead just a hair with the knee on the descent to allow for a deeper quad stretch when pushing back up off the front of the foot.
Tell me how sore your quads are the next few days after these. Forget the added weight, using the body only will allow you to focus 100% on the stretch of the quad and mind/muscle connection rather than worrying about holding weights or simply completing the movement with weights!
STOP HOLDING BACK ON EXERCISES!
What do a lot of us want to do when it comes to training legs? That’s right, we want to hold most of our strength for the bigger lifts!
Break that stupid mentality if you want to excel your leg development. From exercise #1 you should be killing shit!
Yes, a single set of 100 body-weight squats will feel like it’s exhausting you and draining you of potential strength for heavy pressing or squats.
THAT’S THE POINT!
The point is to pre-exhaust the quads so you have to fight through hell to make it through leg day!
Stop “saving up” for a specific exercise. Get rid of that mentality because guess what? If your legs stopped growing it’s no longer working!
No exercise I do for any one body-part or set is done with the intentions of half-assing shit!
When I’m leg pressing a single 45 lb plate for 100 reps straight through it’s difficult.
When I jump to 2 plates per side for 50 reps it’s difficult!
When I jump to 3 plates per side for 25 reps it’s difficult.
Did the reps with the baby weights take it out of me before the final sets with heavier weights? Yeah, they did.
THAT MEANS WHEN I’M USING HEAVY WEIGHTS I NEED TO DIG REALLY DEEP TO BANG THOSE SETS OUT!
My mind needs to go to a place that most people’s minds don’t go during my workouts.
I need to call on some motherfucking demons to do those heavier sets that come further into my workouts!
Do you feel like you’re gonna puke yet? GOOD, you did something!
DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT WITH YOUR NUTRITION
Do you feel like you need more calories after leg training in order to recover? Then eat more calories that day!
An extra bowl of oatmeal that morning? An English muffin with jelly? 3 bowls of fruity pebbles post workout?
Fucking do it!
Stop fighting growth!
You see, everyone is so caught up in fad dieting that they’re becoming their own worst enemies in terms of growth and recovery.
Get to know your own damn body, stop listening to everyone else. Especially people that are small or are fucking fat asses that couldn’t see their own damn abs if their lives depended on it.
You see, people have this crazy idea that certain supplements and drugs are going to replace food. Never!
There will never be a pill or steroid that will ever replace hard work and proper nutrient intake!
Proper nutrient intake might mean that when you train your legs and go through a living hell, that you take in extra calories and nutrients for recovery that day!
Much of this is all going to depend on where you’re at with your development.
There may be times where you don’t want to break that daily caloric deficit in order to continue getting leaner.
But if your goal is to actually look jacked and you don’t look jacked enough then guess what? Stop eating like a fucking bird, especially on leg day!
THE PUMP WILL ONLY HELP CREATE MORE MUSCLE ENGAGEMENT ON HEAVY SETS
Have you ever done one of those leg workouts where it felt like you were actually stronger after getting a pump?
This is what I’m talking about here; it’s that ability to actually feel that mind/muscle connection when you do get to heavier weights!
You help create this by not holding back on the other work that precedes heavier sets.
Now, when you actually get to heavier sets you’re not just beating your body up, you’re fully engaging the targeted muscles within those sets.
All of the little exercises that people want to hold back on such as leg extensions, lying leg curls, calf work, body-weight pump type work, all of that stuff needs to be treated like it’s the only exercise you’re doing that day!
I don’t give a fuck which exercise comes first, every single exercise matters equally as important! This mentality will help create a much larger and stronger individual over time.
When you get to that point where after you go through just 1 or 2 leg growth exercises and you feel like you’re gonna die? When you say to yourself, “How am I gonna possibly do anything else, I already feel like I’m in hell!”