Dear M&F,

For some reason, my lower quads just won’t budge. My upper quads are fine, but I’ve always wanted that well-developed “teardrop” right above the knee. It seems that no matter what I do, my quads are very thin in that area. Here’s my quad workout; thanks for the help.

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Squat 4 8-10
Leg Extension 4 12-15
Hack Squat 3-4 10-12
Dumbbell Lunge 3-4 15

Dropped Off

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Dear Dropped Off,

The specific quadriceps muscle you’re referring to, the vastus medialis (aka the “teardrop”), can be difficult for certain individuals to develop. Sounds like you’re one of them. The best thing you can do at this point is focus on leg exercises that specifically target the medialis (not that such moves won’t also hit other quad muscles, as well as the glutes). Your current stable of exercises is solid for overall quad development, but it’s not the best it can be for bringing up the teardrops.

Research shows that the single best exercise for hitting the medialis is the leg press, which is currently absent in your routine. Our advice is to not only add this lift but do it early in your workout as either your first or second move. Do the press with lots of intensity by taking sets to failure. Also try working in some drop sets: After reaching failure, shed a 45-pound plate from each side (it helps if a partner does it for you) and go to failure again. Two or three grueling drop sets on your last couple of sets should suffice.

Another great exercise for targeting the teardrop is the leg extension, which you’re currently doing but perhaps not as effectively as you could be: Pointing your toes outward places more emphasis on the medialis. As with leg presses, do extensions early in your workout (as you are currently) and keep the intensity high. Drop sets are especially convenient with this move, as the weight stack and pin are right beside you. Also try the sissy squat with your toes pointed outward, which is very similar to leg extensions. Adding these lifts to your quad routine will give your vastus medialis muscles the attention they deserve.

Pimped-Out Teardrop Routine

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 4 8-10*
Leg Extension 4 10-12*
Smith Machine Squat 3-4 8-10
Sissy Squat 3-4 to failure

*Perform 2-3 drop sets at the end of your last two sets.