Leg Exercises

Safety Bar Squats for Jacked Quads

Safely max out your thigh size with this effective move and leg workout.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
leg exercises - back squat
Duration 1 day
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

The safety squat is the ultimate bodybuilding squat variation to maximize thigh development and minimize lower back pain. This movement is a favorite training tool of Branch Warren, whom many bodybuilding pundits consider to have the greatest leg development of all-time.

The safety bar is affectionately known as the Hatfield bar because of Dr. Fred Hatfield’s endorsement. Get ready for the ultimate thigh blaster.

When performing safety squats, your hands are not holding the bar. This allows you to grasp the handles on the power rack. Strong athletes will have to use massive poundages to get the most out of squats, and sometimes these enormous loads cause “rounding” of the back, which is way too common and places large amounts of unnecessary stress on intervertebral discs.

The safety bar squat eliminates this. The athlete exerts pressure against the power rack by grasping the handles and thus maintaining a straight back throughout the entire squatting motion. Using the hands to self-spot prevents one from falling forward or backward.

Squats are king! But even kings have their faults.

Traditional straight bar squatting forces athletes to use a load that they can handle in the weakest position. This results in using an inadequate amount of weight in the strongest position of the squatting motion. With the safety bar squat, when the “sticking point” is reached, the hands can be used to help pull through it while maintaining optimal form. Furthermore, this will enable one to work with heavier weights in the ranges of movement where one is strongest and it give help in the weakest positions.

Basically, you get the advantage of continuous tension on the muscle throughout the entire range of motion like a cable offers, but while squatting! Compounded by the fact that one needn’t use their hands to hold the bar on the shoulders eliminates wrist, shoulder and elbow discomfort, and that’s a good thing. The pad on the safety bar ads an element of comfort; heavy squatting is not about comfort, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the experience. Because you can use your hands to regulate body position, your posture under the bar can be adapted to suit your leverages so that you can literally “tailor” your squatting style to afford maximum overload.

Want to take thigh development to the next level? Try safety squats.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Safety Bar Squat
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3 sets
4,6,8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Bulgarian Dumbbell Squat
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2 sets
12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Romanian Deadlift
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3 sets
6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Sissy Squat
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3 sets
15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Seated Leg Curl
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2 sets
12 reps
-- rest
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