Workout Routines

Straight Up Quads Workout for Bigger, Stronger Legs

Blend impressive size with explosive power with this multi-faceted routine.

Leg Press
Duration 30 Min
Exercises 4
Equipment Yes

When leg day rolls around, is it better to train more like a bodybuilder or an athlete? If you’re asking yourself this question (meaning you’re undecided), perhaps the answer is both. Bodybuilders train their quads for maximal hypertrophy, while football and basketball players are more interested in developing explosive power to enhance speed and jumping ability.

For a typical gym rat who’s neither a competitive bodybuilder nor a serious athlete, the best bet may just be a leg workout that incorporates mass-building principles as well as a quick dose of explosive movements. The following workout offers just that. It addresses power through box jumps; hypertrophy via front squats in a moderate rep range and drop sets of hack squats; and, for good measure, a hefty workload for your stabilizing muscle fibers with unbalanced lunges. Frankly, it’s a great routine for the guy who wants to look good from the waist down at the pool this summer and also have the ability to engage in the occasional pick-up game without getting embarrassed.

The Moves

Hack Squat

Keep your movements under control. Your lower body will be on fire during these drop sets, but don’t rush through the reps. The machine will help you keep your form strict, but still concentrate on keeping your lower back flat or slightly arched (not rounded).

Unbalanced Walking Lunge

The intention of this exercise is to train core stability and balance while also working the quads and glutes. Hold a moderate-weight dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand while you do lunges, keeping the other hand free. Focus on keeping your torso upright throughout – don’t let yourself lean to the side holding the weight.

Front Squat

Treat this as your big lift for the day. The 8-10-rep range is designed to promote hypertrophy, so you should be coming close to failure on all four sets. You want to be strong on every set, so don’t skimp on rest periods. Take 2-3 minutes between sets.

Box Jump

Doing an explosive jumping exercise further warms up the lower body while activating the fast-twitch muscle fibers you’ll be calling on for front squats. Go with a 20- to 30-inch plyo box. If you don’t have one available, use a weight bench instead.

The Warmup

Precede this workout with a five- to 10-minute low-intensity warmup on the cardio machine of your choice.

The Quads Workout

Exercise 1

Box Jump You'll need: Box How to
Box Jump thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Barbell Front Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Front Squat thumbnail
4 sets
8-10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Unbalanced Walking Lunge
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
20 reps
-- rest
In each set, hold the dumbbell in one hand for the first 10 reps and switch hands for the next.

Exercise 4

Hack Squat How to
Mike O' Hearn Doing A Hack Squat thumbnail
2 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Select a weight that will have you coming close to failure at the 10th rep (ie, a 12-rep max). Do 10 reps, rack the weight, take one plate off (or about a third of the weight) and do a drop set to failure. Repeat this sequence for one more drop set.