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Leg Training: 8 Unique Quad Exercises

For a lot of us, leg training is pretty simple. A heavy dose of squats, leg presses, lunges, or any other torturous exercise is usually all it takes to demolish your lower body. But what happens when you fall into a rut and your quads already know what’s coming?

Even worse, what happens when you get bored of your normal leg routine? More than likely, you’ll end up just going through the motions and quitting on a body part that demands your utmost attention and intensity.

When you hit a lower-body wall, reach into your little bag of tricks and pull out one or more of these eight unique quad exercises! When it comes to fitness, I’m always trying to keep things different and think outside the box. My creativity usually leads to great gains. And that’s what you’ll get with these distinctive quad moves—some craziness that will take your legs to a higher level!

1 German Volume Leg Extensions With A Twist

For this exercise, I put together two things most people are familiar with: leg extensions and German Volume Training, which is basically 10 sets of 10 reps for a total of 100 reps. But, I also threw in a brutal twist. You only get 10 seconds of rest between sets.

Leg extensions are a basic quad exercise, but doing them for 100 reps with hardly any rest will leave your lungs burning and your quads wondering what hit them. While you’re going through the reps, you’re going to hurt. Power through and keep the rest to an honest 10 seconds—not a slow 10-count that takes 30 seconds—and you’ll be impressed.

2 Close-Stance High-Bar Olympic-Style Squat

I like to call these dive-bomb squats because it’s all about going really deep —ass-to-grass deep. Keep the bar high on your back—on top of your traps—and your stance close. The position of the bar and your stance will ensure that the bulk of the focus is on your quads.

If you’re normally a low-bar squatter, changing the bar placement and stance will definitely be a challenge. These are great to add in at the end of a workout. Use them as a finisher and don’t be afraid to do a lot of reps.

3 Track Lunges

The concept of bodyweight lunges may sound simple, but I crank up the intensity to max levels. You’ll be doing bodyweight lunges for a distance of up to one mile, and no less than 400 meters, or one lap around the track.

If you’re feeling really frisky, put on a weighted vest and go for a mile. It may take you up to an hour to complete, but you’ll find out how mentally tough you are in a hurry. The key is to keep moving. Don’t stop for many breaks. Push through the pain and push through the burn and the carryover to quad development and your squat strength will be massive.

I basically replaced my cardio work with these track lunges and the difference was huge. I build muscle while I do cardio—that’s an ideal scenario. One final warning, though: be prepared for mad soreness.

4 Frank Zane Single-Leg Leg Extension

Frank Zane gave me this idea after I asked him about his freaky quad separation. He credited single-leg leg extensions for his great quads, but he added a few little secrets.

He told me that he only did the top quarter or even half of the movement, focusing on squeezing the quads at the peak of every rep. He also explained that he did extensions without rest. He simply switched legs and went back and forth for a killer 6-8 sets of 20 reps per leg!

This is an awesome finisher to any leg workout and you’ll notice how effective they are, especially when you squeeze at the top of every rep.

5 Sissy Squat

This exercise might have the worst name in workout history, but let’s focus on how effective it is. It’s a lost exercise for most guys—likely due to the name—but it can blow your quads up.

To perform sissy squats correctly, keep your hips up and make sure you push up through your quads. You’ll get an unbelievable pump! I recommend 20 reps for this movement, but if you want to get crazy, superset them with another exercise in this article. It will be mind-blowing, that’s for sure.

6 28-Method Squat

The 28 Method takes quad punishment to an entirely new level. You’ll do it like this: perform 7 normal reps, 7 slow reps, 7 quarter-reps in the hole, and 7 quarter-reps at the top.

The worst part of this method is the seven slow reps. You have to stay slow on the descent and there’s no rebound out of the hole. Stay slow out of the hole to torch your quads. The tension you’ll feel on your muscles during those seven reps is incredible.

Believe me, you will need to go much lighter than you might expect, but the payoff is immense. These are a definite go-to for me when I want to get a little crazy with my quad routine.

7 28-Method Leg Extensions

We stay with the 28 Method here, but trust me: Just because you’re doing leg extensions doesn’t make it any easier. Your quads will be screaming the entire time and the slow reps are absolutely brutal.

By going slow, you take all of the momentum out of the lift and your quads work overtime on each rep. This is another perfect finisher for any leg workout.

8 Russian Split Squat with quarter-rep method

The finale in this crazy quad lineup includes another of my favorite techniques: the quarter-rep method. When you apply it to the split squat, it’s almost like you’re doing a pump fake out of the hole. Your quads fall for it every time.

Every time your knee touches the floor on the way down, come back up only a quarter of the way, and then drop back down before finishing the full rep. Your quads will be wondering what the heck is going on, especially after the sixth rep. Doing 8-12 reps per leg can reap some serious benefits.


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Your Perfect Body: Visualize, Then Actualize!

What motivates you during a workout? Not before—not “Oh, my god, I’m so excited to go to the gym right now.” I’m talking about when you’re standing just outside of the power rack. You’re about to get under a bar stacked with 45s that could staple you to the ground in less than a second. What do you think of?

Suddenly all the rules change. That little scare your doctor gave you about what could happen if you don’t exercise isn’t enough to make it happen. It’s no match for the big scare of being crushed by hundreds of pounds if you don’t crush it first. You need something more powerful and direct to turn your flame into a raging fire.

Look at a video of pretty much any record-setting squat or bench press, and you’ll see the lifter camping out for at least 15 seconds or so, and sometimes far longer, as they prepare themselves to make this transformation. And that’s in an ideal scenario, with a crowd watching and urging them on, and a long-awaited triumph in their crosshairs.

In training it’s different. No one is watching, except for maybe a slightly nervous spotter or workout partner. It’s all on you. And if you want to make it through this set and eventually lift something even heavier, you’ll need more than just good form and a good pre-workout to make it happen.

The Image of Strength

Arnold famously saw his biceps as mountains, and pictured himself lifting tremendous amounts of weight with those “superhuman masses of muscle.” But what often gets overlooked in that anecdote is why he favored this type of image. As he told “Muscle Builder” magazine back in the day, it was all about losing himself.

“When you think of biceps as merely a muscle, you subconsciously have a limit in your mind. When you limit yourself to that, it is very hard to get there, and nearly impossible to go beyond,” Arnold said. “But when you think about a mountain there is no mental limit to biceps growth, and then you have a chance of going beyond normal mental barriers.”

If you want to make it through this set and eventually lift something even heavier, you’ll need more than just good form and a good pre-workout to make it happen.

I’ve been in this position many, many times over the course of my training career, and I’ve learned what puts me in the max-strength headspace. Mountains aren’t enough for me; I need to go animal! There are a few scenarios that I envision, but here’s a classic one.

I’m not a fan of house cats—in fact, I’m allergic to them—but I admire big cats, and especially lions. A male lion in his prime embodies strength, power, and aggression. And just as important, we’ve all seen enough images of lions in our lives to be able to recall one vividly on a moment’s notice.

When I walk toward the power rack, I see the lionesses move aside. I get under the bar, look the water buffalo straight in the eye, and then we go to war! Nine times out of 10, the pride gets fed, but sometimes that damn buffalo gores me. When that happens, I step back and tell myself I’ll get him next time. And I mean it.

Are animals not your thing? Make it more personal. Imagine a situation where everything you hold dear is on the line. Picture someone holding a gun to your head, or worse, to the head of someone you love. You don’t have a choice; you simply must pump out those extra reps in order for this nightmare to end.

After the set, picture yourself kicking the crap out of that guy. I promise you, if you let yourself go to dark places like this, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

You don’t have a choice; you simply must pump out those extra reps in order for this nightmare to end.

Get Big On the Big Screen

Intense visualization isn’t for everyone. And even the most imaginative of us need to mix things up, so we don’t get too far out there. Enter videos.

Last March, Bodybuilding.com held an NCAA-style bracket tournament of the best and most motivating training montages. It ended up being Rocky films versus Rocky films all the way through. Everyone has their favorite, but “Rocky IV” ended up with the crown.

Over the last 29 years, countless strong people have channeled these six minutes to find new levels of strength and unbridled intensity.

Rocky IV Training Montage
Watch The Video – 06:27

If you’re partial to fight imagery, like I am, something more brutal might be necessary before you head out to the weight room. I love the scene from “Immortals” where Theseus leads his army into battle and runs full speed at the enemy. This one’s good if you have a lot of reps ahead of you:

Epic Battles from Immortals
Watch The Video – 03:43

A max-strength day? The first fight scene in Troy is great before a big weight. A terrifying opponent falls, and there’s never a doubt who will prevail.

Troy: Achilles vs Boagrius
Watch The Video – 02:03

The New Classics of Motivation

Part of Rocky’s charm, of course, is that when the movie came out, he stood alone. To paraphrase an old country song, he was motivation before motivation was cool, before “fitspiration” was a thing. Today, countless online videos are made specifically to help you—or at least the person in the video—train harder.

Looking for an extra inch on your arms? Then command your biceps to grow like YouTube sensation CT Fletcher does.

I Command you to Grow!
Watch The Video – 07:19

Had it up to here with haters? Then dedicate your workout to them, like Kali Muscle does. If it can help a man move 275 pounds with just his arms, it must be powerful stuff!

Kali Muscle 275-lb. Barbell Curls
Watch The Video – 01:17

Everyone has their own trigger; the trick is finding it. What makes a heavy weight turn into a light one for you? Is it a classic like “Pumping Iron,” one of Ronnie Coleman’s old school videos, or are you “Driven Beyond Strength” with DeFranco?

Are you one of those rare ones who can get motivated by something as simple as a big number or the goal of looking swole for an upcoming event? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author

John Paul Catanzaro is one of Canada’s leading health and fitness authorities. He is a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist.

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