Sadly, a lot people never fully develop their quads, because they’re always shortcutting their legs workouts.
1. Improperly targeting areas
There is a common myth that in order to target the quads more and focus less on the glutes when performing hack squats or using the Smith machine, you need to put your feet further to the front.
What you need to know is that in fact, the opposite is true. Also, a lot of people believe that a narrow stance targets the inner quads and a wide stance target the outer quads.
Once again, wrong. It’s a fact that even a lot of professional bodybuilders fail to target the muscles of the inner thighs and the four quadriceps in the best way.
- Point your toes inwards to hit the outer quads more, point them outwards to target the inner quads more.
- Pt your feet under your hips when performing movements like the Smith machine squats, to hit the glutes less and the quads more.
- A narrow stance focuses more on the outer quads and a wide stance focuses more on the muscles of the inner thighs.
2. Using truncated range of motion
You can see it in almost any gym. Guys using the leg press for at best – half reps and bend their knees only so far they can keep the weight moving.
This exact same bending can be seen at the squat racks, hack squat machines and leg extensions.
Any time someone is working on their quads, the chances are they will not go through the whole motion, mostly because performing leg exercises for sets of full repetitions is hard and performing half reps allows heavier work, giving the illusion of working harder, so the quads end up short repped and shortchanged.
- Every repetition of most sets of quads should come down to where the quads become parallel to the ground, if not more.
- Any variation of the leg press should come down at least until the quads are parallel to the ground.
- Leg presses or squats should shortly lockout, or stop just before the lockout, at the highest position.
3. Going too heavy
This is a mistake that almost always goes along with the one above, because going too heavy can lead to truncated repetitions. It mostly happens at leg presses since it’s very probable that you can use the heaviest weight with this exercise.
Seeing the guy before you using 800 for half repetitions instead of 500 for full repetitions makes you want to also do those 800 pound half reps too.
Also, even if you do squat deep, you might pyramid up to singles and doubles just to add on as many plates as you can just to feed your ego, but not build much of a muscle.
- Focus on the muscles, not on the weight.
- Perform full range movements.
- Do 8 – 12 repetitions for most sets.
4. Squatting with incorrect form
There is a worse mistake than stopping far short when it comes to squats. A lot of bodybuilders tend to lean too far to the front and push the hips too far to the back, hitting their hips, buts and back more than their quads.
Even worse, this can potentially strain your spinal erectors. If you perform the barbell squats in the wrong way, it’s better not to perform them at all. It’s better to try and master the form of this exercise and then start performing the exercise.
- If you take a stance wider than shoulder width, it’s best to do it with your toes angled outward, but try to find the position that allows you to remain as upright as you can.
- Look straight ahead during every repetition.
- Work on the form by sitting to and rising from a chair, box or a bench at parallel.
- Perform the Smith machine squats until you perfect the form, then move on to the free – weight squats.
5. Failing at failure
Forcing sets of exercises like the leg presses, walking lunges and the front squats to their maximum is one of the most intense things you can do to your squats.
You may be doing force reps at bench presses and dropping sets when performing side laterals, but it is more likely that you don’t use the same intensity to your leg exercises, just because of the pain quotient.
As explained above, a lot of people often go too heavy on the leg basics. A low rep training is the easy way out.
- Perform 10 – 15 reps to increase intensity.
- Use intensifying techniques like supersets, rest – pause and partials sometimes to force reps beyond full rep failure.
- Know that pain is a necessary part of the full – bore quad workouts.