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Thinking Man's Leg Day: My Off-Season Quad Routine

I’m in the off-season and I’m still utilizing “daily undulating periodization” (DUP) for my training. DUP is a template for planning how your training will be structured and how it will allow you to make progress with in it. So each time I train a muscle group, I utilize a different rep range for high rep (20+) to low reps (6 reps).

DUP for bodybuilding means the total repetitions you perform change daily and they “undulate”, meaning they move from highs to lows. The theory is that variation allows you to take advantage of a variety of hypertrophy stimulus that each rep range can provide.

My off-season quad workout is based on a moderate rep range. The workout primarily focuses on overall quad development, and secondarily on my glutes. The first two exercises are lifts that I will continue to repeat and attempt to increase weight or reps on every session. This is a way to track progress and assure I am building volume into my workouts over time. When following a program like this, it’s very important to keep a logbook to ensure that you are actually making progress.

1. Hack Squat
2 rest pause sets. Set 1 @ 12-15 reps total. Set 2 @ 15-20 reps total

There are many variations of rest pause sets. I give credit to Dante Trudel and his DC training program for the structure of mine. To perform a rest pause set, work up to a failure set of 8-10 reps, then rest 15-20 seconds. Repeat the movement again to failure, then rest 15-20 seconds. Finally, repeat the movement a third time to failure. The total rep count for those three failure sets should be somewhere between 12-15 reps. For Set 2, perform the same rest pause set, but decrease the weight by approximately 20-25%.

For a quad emphasis on hack squats, keep your feet about shoulder width apart in the middle of the platform. For safety, make sure your feet are pointed in the same direction your knees are traveling. Lower the weight as far down as possible before you have to change your form to get lower. It is not necessary to lose a neutral spine position to get just one inch lower. Explode concentrically up without completely locking the knees at the top of the movement.

2. Banded Leg Press

3 sets @ 20 reps

Work up to a failure set of around 20 reps. Stick with the same weight and perform two more sets. If you are training to or near failure, the repetition number will drop following each set.

I attached an EliteFTS average band to the leg press. On the leg press at my gym, I wrap the bands around the base of the seat and then up to the weight. The purpose of this will be to accommodate the strength curve and produce a greater tension throughout the movement when the quads are the most active.

For greater quad emphasis, take a close stance towards the bottom of the leg press platform. Leave the toes pointed slightly outward. This will allow your legs to spread some for a greater depth to be achieved. Take a slight pause prior to concentrically pressing the weight back to the start position.

3. Cluster Set

Reverse hack squat 1½ reps into leg extension, 3 rounds. 60 second rest after each exercise. 10 reps on reverse hack squat and 12-15 on the leg extension.

The cluster set is a continuous circuit of two exercises with a 60 second rest after each exercise. The purpose of the cluster set is to fatigue the quads with leg extensions to allow greater fatigue during the reverse hack squat.

For the reverse hack squat, place feet at the bottom of the platform and use a wide stance. The wide stance will bring more glute and adductors into play. I want you to perform one and a half reps. So, squat all the way down, then press up only half way, then go back down, then press up all the way to the start position. That counts as one rep. Do 10 reps in this format.

For the leg extension, use a leg placement about shoulder width apart. Extend the leg upward, take a slight pause at the top of the movement prior to lowering the weight.

4. Walking Barbell Lunges

3 sets @ 15 steps per leg

On walking lunges, select a weight to perform 15 steps on each leg (30 steps total). If stability is an issue, opt for Bulgarian split squats on the Smith machine. Also, use your judgment regarding muscle fatigue. If your legs are already very fatigued, one set may be all you need at this point.

Take each step bearing most of the weight on the heel and outside of the foot. This will be safer on the knees, but also place more emphasis on the quad sweep and glutes.

5. DC stretch Quads

1 minute timed stretch

Perform a 1 minute timed stretch for the quads. I set the bar on the Smith machine at waist level and hang down from it. To stretch the quads, I hang with my feet out in front of me up on my toes. I let my knees travel past my toes, so my feet are bent back toward my glutes. A loaded stretch while the muscle is full of blood may allow for the fascia to expand and be a potential mechanism for hypertrophy. This will continue to improve mobility.

NOTES

*Warm up sets are not included in descriptions. You should take as many warm up sets as you need, pyramiding up in weight.

*All listed sets above are taken to or near failure. Always consider safety when training to failure.

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