Leg day is nothing to scoff at. When, and if, taken seriously, leg day can feel like a little taste of the tortures of hell, except that the pain is only inflicted on half your body, but that pain resonates deep into your core.
The upside about this self-inflicted torture is that you get to make gains that 83% of gym bros across the globe do not make. Another upside to this brutality is that you increase your own testosterone levels. So, either way, you’ll be making sweet, sweet gains.
However, after a while, the effects of leg day start to decline as our bodies adapt and become stronger and more resistant to the torture that we put ourselves through, giving a big ol’ ‘FU’ when leg day rolls around.
The pain you used to feel is no longer as tangible, the DOMS are near non-existent. So, what’s up? Have you just gone soft and are not training legs the way you should? No, that couldn’t possibly be it. So, what then?
Adaptation. Your body’s grown accustomed to the hell that you put it through and now you need to figure out a way to bring the pain back. Because without pain, your body won’t grow. There’s a lot more science to it than that, but let’s just stick to ‘no pain, no grow’ for now.
Without rambling on, let’s get into some techniques and tips that will boost your quad gains and make your leg day game untouchable.
Tips & Tricks for a Monster Quad Workout
1. Do Your Skwaats First
In case you’re a little unaware, “skwaats” is just a fancy way of saying “squats.”
This seems like an absolute no-brainer, but believe it or not, some people actually do squats as their third or fourth quad-building movement. This isn’t entirely wrong but there is a better way to build the quads.
Do your skwaats first. Squats, along with deadlifts, are the two exercises that recruit a hella lot of muscles when performed. Not only that, but squats are the number one quad builder around. End of story.
Why would you want to put off the best leg building exercise until later in your workout? Plus, if you start your bodybuilding quad workout with squats, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights than you would if you kept it for your third or fourth exercise.
If you want to put more emphasis on your quads during squats, place a plank or board underneath your heels. This will shift your center of gravity and place more stress on the quadriceps.
2. Use the Pre-Exhaust Principle
Yes, I know. This is very contradictory to the previous point of starting your leg day off with squats, but just hear me out real quick.
Including a pre-exhaust into your leg day before squats will allow your quads to be worked to the absolute max while squatting.
Most people will do leg extensions to simply warm up their quads before doing squats. This is all fair and well, but what if I told that by pre-exhausting your quads before jumping into squats will make your quads work harder?
By exhausting your quads, your other muscles that are involved in performing squats—hamstrings, glutes, adductors—are quite fresh and ready for action as opposed to your quads that you’ve just worked.
With these other muscles being fresher than your quads, your quads will then be forced to work harder because they’re more tired than your glutes or hammies are. Your quads will be the first to give in because they’ll no longer be able to contract as effectively.
Talk about taking your quads to complete muscle failure. However, be sure to have a spotter on the heavier days.
3. Training to Failure? Why Stop There
If you’re going to train to failure, then you best fail hard. What I mean by that is, go beyond failure.
Training to failure on leg day is challenging already, but only because of the pain that comes along with it. But going past failure on leg day? That requires a different level of insanity on your end.
I know how painful it can be to do heavy squats until your legs won’t move anymore, but deep down, you muster up that last bit of strength and effort and muscle that bar right back up. As for the thoughts that go through your mind in that moment? Well, that’s for another day.
So what kind of tips and tricks are there to train past failure? I’m glad you asked because training to failure doesn’t necessarily mean that you squat till you can’t squat no more. There are a few ways to go past failure and reap the rewards of it.
- Supersets: Doing supersets on leg day is usually something like supersetting the leg extension and seated leg curl. Although that combination is cute, it’s not as effective as a superset can be.
Try supersetting squats with leg extensions or hack squats; walking lunges with leg extensions; squats/leg press with walking lunges — there are so many combinations that you can do for that ‘past-failure’ growth.
- Forced Reps: This one is a real b*tch! For forced reps, you’ll need a training partner with you. Forced reps should be included in most training days, not just legs. However, on leg day, have a training partner help you with squats, leg presses, and leg extensions.
- Dropsets: Dropsets are an all-time favorite of most lifters. However, some lifters don’t incorporate dropsets effectively into their workouts.
They’ll do a dropset when they feel like it. Although this isn’t a bad thing, it just won’t give you the results that you’re chasing after. But why stop at one dropset? Keep dropping the weights to ensure that you reach ultimate failure.
I wouldn’t recommend doing it with more than one exercise.
4. It’s Okay to be Partial
It’s fine to be partial, especially when it comes to making gains.
This point is about performing partial reps. Yes, partial reps aren’t full reps and are therefore the laughing stock of movements performed in the gym. This is only because the only partial reps that people see are the ones where gym noobs ego-lift and only move the bar an inch.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call that a partial rep. That’s not even moving the weight, it’s more like shaking it.
Partial reps, when performed in conjunction with full reps, can work glorious wonders for your quad gains. And even more so when being utilized with any of the before mentioned past-failure techniques.
If you’re doing a dropset with squats, perform some partial reps at the end of the dropset, when things are getting difficult.
The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, was an advocate for partial reps. That’s how he built those huge-ass guns of his. So, what’s to say that you can’t be making even more gains by employing partials on leg day?
Leg day isn’t awesome, but the gains produced from it are. If you’re having trouble adding to the gains that you already have, then just maybe these 4 tips might give you the edge of a pro bodybuilding quad workout.
There’s nothing fancy about training your quads, just pure grit. You don’t need fancy machines to make them grow either. A little work ethic mixed with some pain tolerance and creativity will ensure that you get along just fine.
Remember this 4 points as they could help you break through the plateau that’s been keeping you back all this time.