The training material from the last few years promotes posterior chain training. Being “quad dominant” is now the biggest sin of them all. Glutes and hamstrings are good. Quadriceps are bad, and only losers feel them when they squat. Legend has it that every time you feel your quads working during squats, a mad fitness guru breaks something.
“You gotta use your ass,” said the guru and slapped the gluteus maximus of his apprentice.
The glute hysteria is spreading faster than ever thanks to a specific group of people – the Glute Brahs. Those would be the guys promoting all kinds of glute exercises such as low bar squats, hip thrusts a.k.a. barbell fucking, kettlebell swings a.k.a bell humping, donkey kicks and much more. The repertoire is extensive.
Of course, this phenomenon has been catalyzed by memes showing the bubble butts of “gifted” females. The memes come with slogans such as “She squats.”, “If you want an ass like that, squat.”
It goes without saying that similar material receives mad love on social networks. But this is only a small side effect of the posterior chain era.
The case becomes even more interesting when the subject of “glute activation” is brought up. People who can make their glutes “fire” properly are considered master magicians whereas those who can’t have to be coached by the gurus how to develop an effective relationship with their own glutes.
“Sensei, show me the way. Tell me how to use my glutes more efficiently when I squat,” said the apprentice.
This mania results in a horde of lifters sticking their butts as far back as possible during squats while looking around with an expression saying “I am using my glutes. You mad, bro?”
Ironically, it’s hard to find a quad exercise besides the leg extension that does not require the use of your hips. Even when you are performing movements like Hack squats and front squats, the glutes are working pretty hard along with the quads. In every squatting motion, there is an element of hip extension which cannot happen without the glutes contracting.
Therefore, being afraid that your quads are eating your ass makes no sense. The only muscle group that participates less during pushing exercises would be the hamstrings a.k.a. leg biceps, but they were never supposed to be dominant during squats in the first place.
That’s why if you want to do more posterior chain training, it makes sense to focus on the weakest link (the hamstrings) by performing dedicated exercises such as deadlifts, swings, sprinting, good mornings, leg curls…etc. Stealing from your quadriceps is not an option. You shouldn’t have favorite muscles. They all love you. Love them back.
So, is quad domination that bad?
No. In fact, being quad dominant is natural in squatting exercises. The main difference between the squat and the deadlift is the degree of knee involvement. When you squat, the knee bends more compared to the deadlift. The more the knee bends, the more leg dominant an exercise becomes. It’s unavoidable. There is nothing unhealthy about being quad dominant in movements that are….well…quad dominant by nature.
Moreover, the posterior chain appreciation is also caused by the powerlifting bug – a sport where low bar squats dominate.
The quads are not evil. They are the biggest leg muscles for a reason and have an enormous potential for growth and strength. Olympic weightlifters are a good example. They always squat high bar and have developed legs.
In the beginning, the shift towards posterior chain training was fine, given the fact that many people don’t know the difference between hamstrings and quadriceps. However, it has turned into complete lunacy.