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  1. #1
    Registered User NotThatUgly's Avatar
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    best exercises/variations to emphasize quads?

    I have been lifting a long time and getting to the point where I want to factually focus on bringing up body parts rather than just endlessly plugging away at compounds lifts with no specialization etc. I've noticed that I am very glute dominant in all leg exercises. I rarely feel a good pump or DOMS in my quads, but frequently get them in my glutes. I know this is not necessarily an indicator, but I feel my quads are lagging in size also. And when I do try to squat heavier, the quads are my weak point and I end up muscling the weight up with posterior chain.

    Even if I front squat, I'm just not feeling it. I've also tried single leg stuff like RFESS and short lunges done very upright to hit quads. Always get the pain in the glutes and nothing in the quads, which is weird since I am trying to do the exercises in a way which will emphasize the quads more and the glutes less. (I've read some recent studies that show there is actually almost no difference between the front and back squat other than far more core stabilization needed for front squat. So it may not be the quad focused variation some people give it credit for)

    Pretty much the only way I can be sure to hit quads is on the leg extension, which some people say is a crap exercise. I have also had good results with the sissysquat station, but not many gyms have one, and my current gym does not. I also do not have access to any speciality bars e.g. SSB

    Any suggestions?
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    Have you tried doing a few warm ups on leg extension then hitting front squats ? Getting a little pre-exhaustion and activation might do the trick.
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    As above. Also can superset leg extensions with squats, they're brutal.

    Hack squats with raised heel as well.
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    Main movement will always be a squat. Barbell back squat if in doubt.

    A single leg extension or lunge to get some unilateral work.

    Sissy squat or leg extension to activate rectus femoris. You don't need a sissy squat station. I just do it standing up and support myself using a fixed bar (e.g. smith machine). You can even use it to apply resistance on the way up and ensure every set ends in agony.
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    If you're not feeling your quads in front squats, then something's not right. How's your form? Are you sitting back on your heels or bending at the knees and keeping your weight more forward? Slight changes in center of balance can move the emphasis from quads to glutes/hams.

    Hack squats would also be a good variant to overload the quads.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Main movement will always be a squat. Barbell back squat if in doubt.

    A single leg extension or lunge to get some unilateral work.

    Sissy squat or leg extension to activate rectus femoris. You don't need a sissy squat station. I just do it standing up and support myself using a fixed bar (e.g. smith machine). You can even use it to apply resistance on the way up and ensure every set ends in agony.
    LOL...I didn't know SP was a masochist...KD!!! So, you some of you powerlifters believe in isolations then, or at least the efficient ones?
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    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    LOL...I didn't know SP was a masochist...KD!!! So, you some of you powerlifters believe in isolations then, or at least the efficient ones?
    I'm not a powerlifter - just a lifter. Pain is a reliable indicator of weakness leaving the body
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    My favorite exercises for quads are hack squats and leg extensions

    But it doesn't matter what you do, it's how you do it

    If you can't properly contract your quads you are not going to get anywhere, learn first how to flex your quads by doing bodyweight squats and keeping the tension on your quads all the time

    ^that personally helped me a lot
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    NotThatUgly,

    Try front squat 21's. Same breakdown as the biceps variety.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I'm not a powerlifter - just a lifter. Pain is a reliable indicator of weakness leaving the body
    As long as it is muscle worked hard pain, not the you're about to damage something sharp pain.
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    Registered User NotThatUgly's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I dont have access to a hack squat machine unfortunately at the moment. Do any serious lifters utilize smith machine squat variations? I often see women doing many different stance variations on the smith machine, e.g. narrow, wide, sometimes they totally lean back into the machine with their knees way out in front. I've always looked down upon the smith machine, but I'm willing to give anything a go if it makes sense.
    Does placing something under the heels help accentuate quads in a squat? I saw this suggestion above for the hack squat, so maybe there's some other way to try it.

    I think I will definitely give the pre-exhaustion tip a try, it's using stuff I already have and are comfortable doing, and it makes logical sense, just never had the idea myself.
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    Registered User NotThatUgly's Avatar
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    Resurrecting my own topic to say after 1 year I found something that really works for me, I got from a video by Johnny Candito. It's close-stance, knees-forward squats with heels elevated an inch or too. Ass to grass, bodybuilding rep ranges. Done as a squat variation on a day when I don't squat heavy. It's really worked for me, especially since I don't have hack squat access.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Good job. I suspect the thing that most helped was the full ROM. Training a shortened ROM can contribute to muscle and movement issues IME. And full ROM combined with moderate rep ranges is often the fix.
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    Originally Posted by NotThatUgly View Post
    I have been lifting a long time and getting to the point where I want to factually focus on bringing up body parts rather than just endlessly plugging away at compounds lifts with no specialization etc. I've noticed that I am very glute dominant in all leg exercises. I rarely feel a good pump or DOMS in my quads, but frequently get them in my glutes. I know this is not necessarily an indicator, but I feel my quads are lagging in size also. And when I do try to squat heavier, the quads are my weak point and I end up muscling the weight up with posterior chain.

    Even if I front squat, I'm just not feeling it. I've also tried single leg stuff like RFESS and short lunges done very upright to hit quads. Always get the pain in the glutes and nothing in the quads, which is weird since I am trying to do the exercises in a way which will emphasize the quads more and the glutes less. (I've read some recent studies that show there is actually almost no difference between the front and back squat other than far more core stabilization needed for front squat. So it may not be the quad focused variation some people give it credit for)

    Pretty much the only way I can be sure to hit quads is on the leg extension, which some people say is a crap exercise. I have also had good results with the sissysquat station, but not many gyms have one, and my current gym does not. I also do not have access to any speciality bars e.g. SSB

    Any suggestions?

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    Registered User NomadNA's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by NotThatUgly View Post
    Resurrecting my own topic to say after 1 year I found something that really works for me, I got from a video by Johnny Candito. It's close-stance, knees-forward squats with heels elevated an inch or too. Ass to grass, bodybuilding rep ranges. Done as a squat variation on a day when I don't squat heavy. It's really worked for me, especially since I don't have hack squat access.
    Makes sense. Close knees shifts focus from glutes to quads. Quads are so massive, they always seem to take higher rep ranges to break thru muscle fiber cycling. I've heard squat sets approaching 20 reps referred to as "widow-makers". : )

    2 inch Heel lift seems like a lot. Are you standing on plates or in shoe lifts? I've been liking the amazon versalifts inside my nano 8 shoes (.55 inch combined heel lift). I tried on the Nike romaleos (.75" heel lift) but I didn't like the narrow toe box. My kinesiology major friend is my shoe expert, and she encourages me to "spread and grab the floor with my toes".

    Regarding the February question on the smith machine. Last night I was watching an interview with lifting coach advocating the smith machine. While he was a fan, he admitted over a 30 year lifting career he had only used it consistently for one 8 week period, in order to test his theory. So I despite what he said, I think it still suggested no successful lifters really like it.
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  16. #16
    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by NomadNA View Post
    Makes sense. Close knees shifts focus from glutes to quads. Quads are so massive, they always seem to take higher rep ranges to break thru muscle fiber cycling. I've heard squat sets approaching 20 reps referred to as "widow-makers". : )

    2 inch Heel lift seems like a lot. Are you standing on plates or in shoe lifts? I've been liking the amazon versalifts inside my nano 8 shoes (.55 inch combined heel lift). I tried on the Nike romaleos (.75" heel lift) but I didn't like the narrow toe box. My kinesiology major friend is my shoe expert, and she encourages me to "spread and grab the floor with my toes".

    Regarding the February question on the smith machine. Last night I was watching an interview with lifting coach advocating the smith machine. While he was a fan, he admitted over a 30 year lifting career he had only used it consistently for one 8 week period, in order to test his theory. So I despite what he said, I think it still suggested no successful lifters really like it.
    Dorian Yates raved about feet forward Smith machine squatting, as does Paul Carter. The latter likes using it for front squats as well because it eliminates the back as a weak point.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Dorian Yates raved about feet forward Smith machine squatting, as does Paul Carter. The latter likes using it for front squats as well because it eliminates the back as a weak point.
    Sounds like the same movement as a barbell hack squat - although it's much easier to cheat with the hack squat.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Dorian Yates raved about feet forward Smith machine squatting, as does Paul Carter. The latter likes using it for front squats as well because it eliminates the back as a weak point.
    Solid point BG.

    In a classic display of defensive closed-mindedness (me) I'll caveat Dorian Yates advice by saying, this is a strategist who values going to failure often and past failure. Alot of his videos discuss and demonstrating pushing past failure by assisting his trainees with negatives past failure. He seems to explain its not that free weights aren't safe to fail, but that machines are easier for him as a coach to assist on and help his athletes do negatives.

    I certainly started 20 years ago in Yates camp, but these days pushing past failure strategies typically hinder my recovery and therefor my consistency too much.

    Also can we take a moment to make fun of Yates trainee in this video doing quarter leg presses? Sorry, childish jab.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erRdAUK_yAw
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    Originally Posted by NomadNA View Post
    Solid point BG.

    In a classic display of defensive closed-mindedness (me) I'll caveat Dorian Yates advice by saying, this is a strategist who values going to failure often and past failure. Alot of his videos discuss and demonstrating pushing past failure by assisting his trainees with negatives past failure. He seems to explain its not that free weights aren't safe to fail, but that machines are easier for him as a coach to assist on and help his athletes do negatives.

    I certainly started 20 years ago in Yates camp, but these days pushing past failure strategies typically hinder my recovery and therefor my consistency too much.

    Also can we take a moment to make fun of Yates trainee in this video doing quarter leg presses? Sorry, childish jab.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erRdAUK_yAw
    I never advocate going past failure, but always advocate 1 working set to positive failure combined with slower linear progression. But that is what has been working for me.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I never advocate going past failure, but always advocate 1 working set to positive failure combined with slower linear progression. But that is what has been working for me.
    This discussion on yates suggest yates is mitigating recovery concerns by decreasing volume/freqency when he's pushing to failure.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd0zm91f9nk
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    barbell squats (high bar)
    machine hack squats
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    leg extensions for mostly the rectus femoris
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    Originally Posted by NomadNA View Post
    This discussion on yates suggest yates is mitigating recovery concerns by decreasing volume/freqency when he's pushing to failure.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd0zm91f9nk
    1800g of test a week certainly helped

    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Sounds like the same movement as a barbell hack squat - although it's much easier to cheat with the hack squat.
    Basically. It can also be mimicked on a sled hack squat.
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    Probably the single best exercise for quad hypertrophy would be Platz squats. That’s where you have a narrow stance, feet almost completely straight, and have a lot of knee travel. I think they’re often done on a wedge too so your heels are elevated and you can really drive through them.

    Oh, and high reps. 15-20+. You’ll first hate me, then thank me later.
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    Probably the single best exercise for quad hypertrophy would be Platz squats. That’s where you have a narrow stance, feet almost completely straight, and have a lot of knee travel. I think they’re often done on a wedge too so your heels are elevated and you can really drive through them.

    Oh, and high reps. 15-20+. You’ll first hate me, then thank me later.

    Yes, seems OP found it too. Cheers.


    Originally Posted by NotThatUgly View Post
    Resurrecting my own topic to say after 1 year I found something that really works for me, I got from a video by Johnny Candito. It's close-stance, knees-forward squats with heels elevated an inch or too. Ass to grass, bodybuilding rep ranges. Done as a squat variation on a day when I don't squat heavy. It's really worked for me, especially since I don't have hack squat access.
    2020 maxes
    Squat 185
    Bench 137
    DL 205
    bw 88.5 age 43

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    BB Sumo Deadlift
    Landmine Sumo Deadlift

    DB Bulgarian Split Squat
    Landmine Bulgarian Split Squat
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    Fronts and hacks to fail always served me well, nails em everytime. Barbell though, never used either with machines.
    Back to basics full body routine: https://pastebin.com/5BgKgrMv

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    Originally Posted by NotThatUgly View Post
    I have been lifting a long time and getting to the point where I want to factually focus on bringing up body parts rather than just endlessly plugging away at compounds lifts with no specialization etc. I've noticed that I am very glute dominant in all leg exercises. I rarely feel a good pump or DOMS in my quads, but frequently get them in my glutes. I know this is not necessarily an indicator, but I feel my quads are lagging in size also. And when I do try to squat heavier, the quads are my weak point and I end up muscling the weight up with posterior chain.

    Even if I front squat, I'm just not feeling it. I've also tried single leg stuff like RFESS and short lunges done very upright to hit quads. Always get the pain in the glutes and nothing in the quads, which is weird since I am trying to do the exercises in a way which will emphasize the quads more and the glutes less. (I've read some recent studies that show there is actually almost no difference between the front and back squat other than far more core stabilization needed for front squat. So it may not be the quad focused variation some people give it credit for)

    Pretty much the only way I can be sure to hit quads is on the leg extension, which some people say is a crap exercise. I have also had good results with the sissysquat station, but not many gyms have one, and my current gym does not. I also do not have access to any speciality bars e.g. SSB

    Any suggestions?
    One little trick I found out by accident when I powerlifted was simply changing the shoe you wear can activate more of the quads in the squat. I noticed when I did squats with a lifting shoe that had a little heal at the back instead of a flat shoe would put more emphasis on my quads and I would feel my quads a lot more during squating.
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