Q: What's the best way to shock my quads to spur new growth?
A: I recommend the following shock workout for packing meat onto quadriceps. I always started this leg routine three to six months prior to the Mr. Olympia, and it worked like a charm.
Begin with leg extensions to warm up the thighs for the heavy-duty compound movements to come. When I started out, I'd kick off my leg workout with squats. Not so smart - that was a great way to torment my knees. My mistake was trying to blitz my legs in only 10 minutes. Don't rush your workout! Take the time you need to warm up your muscles for optimal gains in size and quality.
I do a light warm-up set of 15 leg extensions, before two working sets of eight to 10 reps. Pause for a count of one at the top of the movement, and don't let the weight drop as you return to the starting position. The goal is to maintain continuous tension throughout the full range of motion.
Leg presses are next on the agenda. Even after leg extensions, the knees are not ready to handle heavy squats. Either the vertical leg press - lie on your back, release the weight and press the platform directly overhead until your legs are fully extended, before lowering slowly and under control - or the standard 45-degree leg press will get the job done. The vertical leg press is my favorite, since I get a better feel for the movement. Unfortunately, many gyms no longer have this machine - it's a throwback to the Pumping Iron era, when training was bad to the bone.
With either leg-press machine, I do a warm-up set of 12 reps, followed by three working sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Finish with tried-and-true squats. Your legs are warmed up and ready for the meat-and-potatoes mass builder. Don't expect to max out on the weight, as your quads will be somewhat fatigued from the leg extensions and leg presses. And it's no wonder because you should pyramid the weight for all of these exercises, using progressively heavier poundage for each set.
If you can usually squat 400 pounds, don't expect to move more than 300 during this routine. Work your way up to the top of the pyramid. I'm telling you that 300 pounds will feel like a ton after all those leg extensions and presses.
Do one warm-up set of 12 reps and then two or three working sets of eight to 10 reps. One training day per week and that's it for thighs. There's no need to torture your legs. Just do the right thing and they will respond.
To contact Lee Haney, visit www.leehaney.com.