Arnold's Tips for Building Up Your Quads

Four quad-building tips to turn your legs from a weakness to a strength.

In my opinion, only one man can make a legitimate claim to owning the greatest pair of legs in bodybuilding history: Tom Platz. Unfortunately, you’re not him, which means you’ve got a weakness or two below the belt. More specifically, in the quads. Don’t worry — my thighs weren’t always that strong either. But with countless hours in the gym, hammering away at those areas that were developmentally deficient, I built a pair of legs absent of any apparent flaws. (Not quite on par with Tom’s, of course, but respectable in any case.) 

Your quads are made up of several distinct areas, any of which can lag behind the others. For troubleshooting any or all of these areas, I suggest taking the following action: 

Weakness: Lower inner thighs (vastus medialis) 

Solution: Leg press 

How To: The best way to develop the “teardrop” that every guy wants (or should want) is to do leg presses. But here’s the trick: Because the vastus medialis works hardest when the knee is fully bent, I suggest using a range of motion where you go all the way down (as far as you can without your lower back coming up off of the pad), but rise only three-quarters of the way back up on every rep. Do these for a few months and your lower quads will cease to be a weakness. 

Weakness: Outer thighs (vastus lateralis) 

Solution: Hack squat with a narrow stance 

How To: When targeting weak outer quads, the key is to keep your feet close together (less than shoulder-width apart) and to point your toes straight ahead. That advice holds true for leg presses or any other squat variation as well. 

Weakness: Inner thighs (adductors) 

Solution: Side lunge 

How To: Aside from taking a wider stance on squats, you can also hit your inner thighs with side lunges. (And, of course, there’s always the inner-thigh machine, but doesn’t that seem a little girly?) These are just like standard lunges, except you step out to the side instead of straight out in front of you. Step out as far as is comfortably possible to really hit that inner area. 

Weakness: Front sweep of thighs (rectus femoris) 

Solution: Leg extension 

How To: The rectus femoris runs straight down the front of your thigh and, ideally, should protrude farther than any of your other quad muscles. If not, it’s a weak point and thus should be attacked with leg extensions. No fancy technique here — just hit it intensely and hard, squeezing out every rep and not ending a set until your quads are on fire. 

Finally, if your weakness is overall thigh development, there’s one answer you may not want to hear, but you must. The solution is the tried-and-true barbell squat. Skinny legs, weak legs, legs you’re so embarrassed of you never wear shorts — the answer is putting a barbell on your back and squatting in every leg workout. Heavy and intense. Week in, week out. Year in, year out. Learn to love it, and you’ll reap many muscular rewards. - FLEX


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