Fitness: Shock Your Quads With this Quad-Building Routine

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The Plan

Use this sweep-shaping quad routine once a week to start, working your way up to two days a week if desired. Leave at least three full days of rest in between workouts to allow for adequate recovery, and remember to stretch thoroughly to assist in the repair and rebuilding of your muscles. “I also highly recommend foam rolling postworkout to increase circulation,” adds Quevedo, who advises to roll each quad for a minimum of one to two minutes, then following up with an additional quad stretch on each leg.

Those newer to exercise should stick to training legs (hams and quads) on the same day, while more experienced exercisers can split them into separate days, according to Quevedo. Do this routine for the next four to six weeks, then reassess your lower half. Your results should sweep you off your feet!

As always, please check with your doctor or physician before beginning any diet or exercise routine,.

Get Killer Quads

For each move, rest about one minute between sets to recover, up to two minutes if you’re lifting heavier.

Exercise: Single-Legged Leg Press
Sets: 3 (each leg)
Reps: 10–12

Single-Legged Leg Press

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus

Set Up: Sit at the leg press machine with your back against the padding. Place one foot on the footplate and put your other foot on the floor underneath the machine.

Action: Extend your leg to push the footplate away from you, then slowly bend your knee to return to the start. When your set is complete, repeat on your opposite leg.

Why is this good for the sweep? Single-legged motions force your legs to work individually, adding stress to build strength and size unilaterally.

Tip: Place your foot lower on the footplate to hit the quads harder.

Exercise: Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squat
Sets: 3 (each leg)
Reps: 10–12

Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squat

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings

Set Up: Adjust the Smith machine so that the bar rests across the back of your shoulders. Extend your left leg behind you and place the foot, laces down, onto a flat bench.

Action: Bend both knees, keeping your weight centered over your working leg. When you’ve come as low as you can go, press through your front heel to stand. When your set is through, switch sides.

Why is this good for the sweep? The Smith machine adds an element of balance to the one-legged motion, forcing the quads to work harder to maintain stability in the knee and hip.

Tip: If a bench isn’t available, simply stagger your feet so the non-working leg is in front, touching the ground for balance but bearing very little, if any, weight.

Exercise: Front Squat
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 6-8

Front Squat

Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings

Set Up: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them lightly on the fronts of your shoulders, with your elbows pointing towards the floor as shown.

Action: Bend your knees and hips to lower into a squat. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, then press through your heels to stand.

Why is this good for the sweep? “Squats are the ultimate quad builder, engaging and stressing all four muscles equally,” says Quevedo. Front squats shift your center of gravity forward, emphasizing the quads more than the glutes.

Tip: If you’re used to back squats, these might feel awkward at first. Use a lighter weight than normal until you get used to the motion, and build up from there. Alternately, try this exercise with a barbell.

Exercise: Sissy Squat
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-10

Sissy Squat

Target Muscles: quadriceps

Set Up: Stand beside a post or pole, with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the post with your nearest hand with a light but supportive grip.

Action: As you bend your knees into a full squat, simultaneously lift your heels from the floor, leaning your torso rearward as shown. Stop when your knees are fully flexed, then reverse to return to the start.

Why is this good for the sweep? “Sissy squats create a deep separation in the mid thigh, giving the sweep a more drastic appearance,” says Quevedo.

Tip: This is a beginners’ version. As you advance, try to drop your knees closer to the floor.

Exercise: Leg Extension
Sets: 4
Reps: 10-12

Leg Extension

Target Muscles: quadriceps

Set Up: Adjust the machine so the pad touches your shin just above the ankle. Grasp the handles on either side of the machine for stability, and flex your feet.

Action: Smoothly lift the lever arm by extending your legs, squeezing the quads hard before returning to the start. Keep a small bend in your knees at the top of the move.

Why is this good for the sweep? “Extensions are isolation moves that specifically target the sweep,” explains Quevedo.

Tip: Rotate your femurs (the thighs — not just your toes!) inward so that your toes point towards one another slightly to better hit and isolate the vastus lateralis.