Tip: The Forgotten Way to Build Legs

It used to be the rule for building big quads, but today most people haven't heard of it. Let's change that.

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Scorching High Reps For Quads

Looking back at bodybuilding history, you often see advice like this: "The quads need higher reps than other muscle groups, like 15-20 or more to grow."

But somewhere this old rule got lost. Maybe it's the "go heavy or go home" mindset, which has its place but kills the benefits of time under tension. Or maybe it's because sport coaches write most of the training articles and books these days, and they don't care too much about quads that split your blue jeans apart, only strength and function.

Or maybe it's more simple than that. Maybe it's because high-rep quad work burns more than anything else. Most lifters would much rather pile on the plates and do single-digit reps. That hurts, but it's a different kind of pain and strain. But 20 reps of an exercise that targets the quads, taken to failure or close to it? That's some soul-grinding, hypertrophy-inducing pain.

The Spleen-Popping Leg Press Routine

Pick an exercise that mainly hits the quads. Let's just use a leg press as an example.

  1. To shift tension more onto the quads, use a closer foot width, press mainly through the toes rather than the heels, and keep your feet a bit lower on the sled.
  2. Shoot for 25 reps. Keep the tension constant, don't lock out at the top. Just close your eyes and grind. If you can't get 25, lighten the load. If you get 30, add some weight. Do two or three sets.
  3. After your "sissy" light work, retrieve your spleen. It may have popped out and rolled across the gym. Then add weight and knock out a few heavy sets in the normal 8-10 rep range.

Another option: Forget counting reps and grind for two minutes straight. You'll figure out the best weight to use after a practice run or two, so put away the percentage of 1RM charts.

Tom Platz
Tom Platz

Now, this doesn't mean to only do high reps. Just don't forget about them. And it doesn't mean you can't eventually work up to some heavy weights for higher reps. Remember bodybuilder Tom Platz squatting 350 pounds for around 50 reps? Or when he'd put 225 on the bar and squat for 10 minutes without stopping?

Yeah, me neither, but he did it and he had the freakiest quads in bodybuilding history. Maybe he was on to something.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram