Whether leg day may be the most-dreaded, most-loved or most-skipped part of your workout regimen, it is crucial. Our quadriceps, specifically, are the main players in the extension of the knee and a vital part of a strong frame, not to mention in walking, standing, and running. Leg workouts can either be split into a quad/hamstring day, or by training each muscle on separate leg days. In this instance, let’s focus on a quadricep workout routine.
Leg extensions- Use this exercise for warm up and/or burn outs but not as an exercise in itself to count towards rep sets of a leg workout. 3-4 sets first thing before diving into leg day or 3-4 drop sets after all your other leg exercises are completed. Reps until fatigue.
Front squats- Yes, front squats, that’s not a typo! While front squats are great, they shouldn’t be used in place of back squats, only in addition. Naturally we are able to back squat more weight, and with heavier weight comes greater gains. Therefore, back squats should never be eliminated from one’s leg program. However, alternating front/back squats every other leg day are an excellent way to add some variety to your workout. In order to properly execute front squats, first start with just the bar and decide which grip you prefer- hands crossed or uncrossed (clean grip). Once decided, keep in mind that front squats will be done with a lighter weight than regular back squats. The bar should rest right around the clavicle area and arms should be kept up and in. Feet placement is just a tad wider than the back squat (stick with what feels comfortable), keeping the lats tightened to support the bar. With head and chest forward, squat to parallel (or below), pause, and return to starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10.
Leg press- Not only is this a great exercise, but you can also use the leg press machine to super set calves with quads. Feet placement on the leg press is super important, as it can be the determining factor for which muscle group you are primarily hitting. For example, legs placed high and wide on the press are going to mainly target the hamstrings and glutes, while placing the feet midway on the press and at shoulder width apart will target the quads. Always make sure legs/knees are coming to a ninety-degree angle and that you assure you are pushing with your legs and not your back by keeping it flat against the seat. You can super set calf raises in between presses. Shoot for 4-5 sets (thats 8-10 total, if supersetting) until fatigue, focusing on pushing with your legs.
Walking lunges- These can be done with either a barbell or pre-loaded ez bar. Find an open area that you can lunge in about ten times to and from. Position the bar on your back as you would for a back squat. Lunge forward and make sure the back knee is almost touching the floor. To add a plyometric effect, trying jumping lunges instead, using no weight. Stand in one place and alternate jumping lunges, left foot forward, right foot forward, repeat. These are a great way to add some cardio, heart-pounding moves to your leg routine. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12/leg.