Leg Exercises

Exhaust Your Options

Use this tried-and-true technique to bring up a stubborn pair of quads.


One of the most common complaints of aspiring bodybuilders looking for balance from head to toe is that they just can’t get their quads to grow. If this describes your situation, I offer one solution that could help: pre-exhaustion.

See, the problem many people have is that their biggest muscles (in this case, the quads) are much stronger in comparison to the smaller assisting muscles (the glutes and hamstrings). So if you’re doing sets of squats, your quadriceps might be ready to continue but your glutes or hams may tire, causing you to end your set before you’ve thoroughly worked your quads.

Obviously, this isn’t a problem for everyone. But for those who have to deal with overpowering quads, one effective strategy is to pre-exhaust the area by doing isolation exercises before your compound moves so your quads fail at more or less the same time as your glutes and hamstrings do.

If you were doing, say, 3-4 exercises for your quads, you’d typically do squats and leg presses first, then finish with leg extensions. But extensions are the only exercise that fatigue just your quads, so I advise doing them first in your workout.

Do 4-5 working sets of extensions right off the bat, and to failure. By the time you move on to squats, leg presses and/or hack squats, your quads will be fatigued while the smaller muscles are still fresh, putting the three bodyparts on a level playing field. I like to think of it as the quads getting a head start on exhaustion, which will ultimately lead to greater gains in size and definition.