thebbse@gmail.com January 25, 2022

Whether your goal in the gym is to improve athletic performanceincrease strength, or just look better, a nice set of big, strong quads is a must.

The quad plays a big role in running, jumping, and everyday life. On top of this, the quads are one of the first things people see as you’re walking toward them. If you come into the gym looking like an egg on stilts, you’re not going to command much respect.

So how do you develop monster-sized quadricep muscles? The answer is a heavy dose of compound movements with a side of isolation exercises.

Take a look at Larry “Quadzilla” Barcello. He has some of the best quads in the iron game. And I can tell you he didn’t get them by just hitting some leg extensions. These behemoths were built with heavy compound movements!

Here are 6 great exercises for crazy quad development.

Front Squat

The number one move for quad growth is an old favorite, the front squat.

Take a look at any successful Olympic lifter and you will see goliath quads. A huge reason for this is the predominance of front squat work that they do when compared to other athletes.

The front squat makes you keep an upright torso position (so the bar doesn’t fall off your shoulders) this puts much more of the focus on your quads. Also, because of the upright torso, your knees will track forward over your toes.

This leads to a greater tibia angle and a more quad-dominant exercise.

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Safety Bar Squat

Take the safety squat bar (the one with the pad and handles) and turn it backwards, so that the pads are in the front rather than the back.

Using this bar is great for people who have wrist mobility issues, or shoulder pain.

The camber of the bar also makes you stay more vertical, leading to more emphasis on the quads.

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High Bar, Heels Elevated Squat

This is a favorite of old-school bodybuilders.

For this squat variation, the bar will be up high on your traps and you will take a narrow stance with 25 lb. plates underneath your heels.

This will force your knees over your toes (increasing tibia angle) and allow your torso to stay upright, leading to a more quad dominant exercise.

This squat variation gets a bad rap, but for quad development it is highly useful.

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Barbell Step-Ups

To perform this lift, set up a box, bench or stack of plates to a height of 18-24”.

Put a loaded Barbell on your back and step up with your right foot.

Stand up on the bench by extending your hip and knee of your right leg and place left foot on bench. Step down with the left leg by flexing your hip and knee on your right leg.

Return to original standing position.

Start the next step up with your left leg, switching between right and left each rep.

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Bulgarian Split Squat

Put the bar on your back like you are going to squat, put your back foot on a bench behind you and your front foot on the ground in front of you in a stretched out position (like a lunge.)

Now bend your front leg and squat down, continue down until the top of thigh is parallel to the ground.

Reverse the motion and stand up.

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Leg Extension

The leg extension movement allows you to isolate the quadriceps better than any other exercise.

A toes-pointed-in position puts more stress on the outside sweep of the quads, while toes-pointed-out puts more stress on the inside of the leg and inner teardrop. The key is to bring the weight up as high as possible and hold it briefly at the topmost position. 

A “muscle intention” style of lifting should be applied during the leg extension… feel those quads working and squeeze them hard at the top.