Science Based Quadriceps Training
Well developed quads separate average from great physiques. Here's how to optimally train them:
1️⃣ Highest Muscle Activation: Multiple studies have shown the leg extension elicits the highest Quad EMG activity.
2️⃣ Best squat variation: Front squats have been shown to be superior for Quad activation compared to back squats in multiple studies.
3️⃣Stance width: Doesn't effect activation which implies taking a comfortable stance is all that matters
4️⃣ Depth: Hitting at least parallel is key for maximum activation. Going lower can be beneficial but hitting parallel is a good benchmark.
5️⃣Accessory Exercises: A leg press is a staple for quadriceps development and should be included if you're trying to bring up your quads. Step ups also are shown to have high levels of activation in the outer quad which make them a solid accessory. Another great movement is a lunge. Forward walking lunges with an emphasis on the quads show to be very effective with activation levels.
▪️Volume Recommendations: Dr. Mike Israetel states 12-18 weekly sets is a good benchmark for quad volume. Hitting them 2 times per week is a good frequency for most as well.
▫️Fiber Type: The quads are more fast-twitch dominant making them better suited for low rep work.
▪️Tips and Tricks: Pointing the toes out on the leg extension tends to activate the rectus femoris (middle quads) more. Pointing the toes in has shown to activate the outer quads more so as well. Slow eccentrics always help with breaking down the muscle which is critical for muscle growth. Eccentric-focused reps are a great addition for any hypertrophy-focused plan. Also, adding a slight pause at the top of a leg extension to squeeze the muscle increases time under tension which can lead to greater muscle gains. ▫️Sample Quad Focused Leg Day:
1️⃣ Front squats: 4x8
2️⃣Leg press: 5x10
3️⃣ Walking lunges: 3x10/side
4️⃣Steps ups: 3x12/side
5️⃣Leg extensions: 4x15 ➡️Two sets with toes in, two with toes out