Training

Build Up Your Quads

Jay Cutler's tips to add sweep, detail and overall size to your legs.

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Build Up Your Quads

Every bodybuilder has his own method for training legs; however it’s done, it’s never fun. I always say, “If you can leave a gym after a leg workout walking the same way as when you entered, you didn’t do enough.” For great legs, you need to have that mindset and put in the brutal work they require to respond and grow.

My favorite overall thigh builders are the front squat, hack squat and lunge. These three exercises usually compose the heart of my thigh routine. In my opinion, front squats are the best movement for building quad sweep, not to mention a prominent teardrop muscle on the front of the thigh. I do these using either free weights or a Smith machine. If I opt for a barbell, I put front squats first in the routine; if I choose a Smith machine, squats are second or third in the lineup.

A Smith allows me to concentrate on the stretch at the bottom of the range of motion while keeping unwanted strain off of my back, glutes and hamstrings. I pay close attention to my foot position. With my feet closer (inside shoulder width), I feel it more in the lower quad near the knee — i.e., the teardrop. With a more neutral shoulder-width stance, I feel it more in the mid to upper thigh — i.e., the sweep.

I also like to vary my foot position when doing hack squats. I try never to place my feet too high on the platform, as this lessens the emphasis on my quads and involves more of my glutes and hamstrings, which aren’t my target areas. Hacks are my favorite leg exercise, so much so that I’ve been known to switch them with front squats and perform them first in my routine. I often see people mangle this exercise by trying to push too much weight for too few reps or by using foot placement that’s too high.

Lunges are great for stretching out an already pumped muscle. Many bodybuilders view lunges as a finishing movement, but I believe it’s a great mass builder. I switch between the dumbbell and barbell version, sometimes lunging in place and sometimes walking. For walking lunges, I try to step far enough so I feel the contraction from my knee all the way up to my hip; in place or walking, it’s important to plant your stepping foot solidly on the floor.

For each exercise in my workout, I aim for eight to 10 reps with a weight that should bring me close to failure. I keep the sets at around three or four per exercise and rarely do any supersetting in the offseason.

 CUTLER’S QUAD WORKOUT 

  • Barbell or Smith Machine Front Squats | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-10 
  • Hack Squats | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-10 
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Lunges | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-10 

 FLEX 

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