Optimal Quad Training
The back squat shows high levels of quad activation, but the front squat edges it out if you’re focusing specifically on developing your quads. I would recommend focusing on both squat variations if you’re looking to get stronger while developing your quads. Do back squats first and then a couple sets of front squats after and you should see great results!
Stretchers: Place maximum tension when the muscle is at full stretch. Examples of this are front squats, lunges, bulgarian split squats and hack squats. These exercises place a great stress on the muscle which is key for it to grow bigger+stronger. These should be done every 3-4 days for 2-5 sets of 5-12 reps.
Activators: Maximum tension on the muscle happens when the muscle is fully shortened/contracted. Examples of this are leg extensions, leg press, and step ups. These a great movements as well but they don’t damage the muscle quite as much as stretchers do. Thus, these should be done every 2-3 days for 2-5 sets of 8-15 reps.
Pumpers: Show low levels of muscular damage with high metabolic stress which leads to a great pump, but not much actual muscle damage. These exercises are best performed for higher reps (15+) and 1-3 sets. Examples of this for the quads are bouncing bodyweight squats, goblet squats, and even cycling. Going for a bike ride is a great way to drive lots of blood to the quads without causing much damage to the muscle. These can be done up to 5-6 days per week because of the low amount of damage they cause to the muscle.
You want to have a mix of all three categories in your training on a weekly basis. For example, you could structure your quad training like this:
Monday: Back squat 3x6, front squats 2x8, leg extensions 2x12, and bouncing squats 1x25.
Wednesday: Leg press 2x12, goblet squats 1x20, and 30 mins of cycling.
Friday: Front squats 2x8, walking lunges 2x10/leg, hack squats 2x12, and step ups 2x15/leg.
Saturday and Sunday off.
Aim for 12-18 weekly working sets for all the stretchers and activators focusing on the quads.