I don’t care if you squat… or that your current condition post leg day resembles a baby giraffe. If you’re posting about your leg day you’re probably trying to make up for the last 4 weeks you skipped it.
Nonetheless, it’s commendable to see a rigorous leg day in progress. The fact is, too many excuses are made for not training legs:
- “I bike to work or jog during my lunch break, my legs get enough exercise.”
- “My knees are bad, I’d rather do “functional” exercises than direct leg work.”
- “My legs get too big if I train them.”
- “My friend never trains his legs and is huge.”
I find it humorous that the majority of the population refers to “legs” as a singular muscle. Training legs is not the same as chest day or “bicep” week. However, you’ll hear more in the gym in regards training for upper, lower, middle, outer and inner chest before you learn to properly develop the vastus medialus. To build leg mass it’s important to be familiar with the muscles of the lower body. Today’s article will discuss 4 of the most neglected muscles – the vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris. These make up the quadriceps femoris or “quads” for short.
This isn’t a debate between the front and back squat. Both are arguable equal for developing mass. The front squat can however be easier on the lower back and at the same time is one of the greatest movements for strengthening the spinal erector and same time rectus abdominis due to the position of the bar and torso.
The barbell Hack Squat is considerably different than the machine based movement by the same name and in my opinion superior. To perform the classic hack squat, stand with a barbell behind you and resting on the ground against your calves. Place feet approximately shoulder width apart, preferably with heels raised on 2x4 blocks, push hips back and bend to grasp barbell with an overhand grip. Tightly pinch the shoulder blades and drive your heels into the ground as you rise to standing position.
Despite being one of the most important leg movements in general, lunges are rarely performed sufficiently. Lunges are tremendously versatile and subtle technical changes can shift muscular action and influence. It should go without saying that all training plans should include lunges on a regular basis. Dumbbell lunges are a superb option with general quadriceps development when the user takes a relatively short stride. Care should be placed on ‘reaching up and out’, initiating the movement by drawing the leg up at the hip first before extending the lower leg.
Leg Extension Variations
Point toes out to increase activity of the rectus femoris (large quadracep muscle on the top, center of the thigh). Finish with partial reps at the top half of the movement for increased recruitment of the vastus lateralis (outer quad muscle)
Quad Mass Routine
- Front Squats (1½ reps) 4x6
- Hack Squats 4x8
- A1) DB Lunges 2x10
- A2) Leg Extension 2x20
10 reps toes pointed straight, 10 reps toes pointed out. Finish with partial reps (mid to top of movement) to failure.
- Walking Lunges 1x100
Walking lunges are a great addition to strengthen the VMO. The VMO (Vastus Medialis Obliquus) is of critical importance with knee stability (patella in particular) and its weakness is the root of the countless injuries. The VMO is responsible for the extension of the knee and weakness will potentially result in poor tracking that increases the risk of injuries. Simply, train the VMO and one will not only see a greater ‘sweep’ of the muscle but reduce the risk of injury. For more information regarding knee rehabilitation and VMO development contact John Davies founder of Renegade training.
Prepared by Nik Ohanian
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