Quadriceps Training For Natural Bodybuilders

| by Truth Seeker |

When you are selecting exercises, always ask the following questions:

What is this exercise giving me? How hard is it on my joints?

You will be surprised how few exercises will actually pass through this filter.

When it comes to quadriceps training, there are many movements that are pure nonsense resulting in nothing but knee pain.

Today, I will analyze most popular leg exercises.


The hack squat machine allows you remain upright. This position keeps most of the stress on the quadriceps and the glutes.

The main downside of hack squats is that they can be rough on the patellar tendon and the knee as a whole. In fact, one of the fastest ways to hurt your knees is to do heavy hack squats. To avoid problems, do hack squats with light weights for reps.

Hack squats are not a strength exercise. They are an accessory. If you feel pain, during hack squats, stop doing them. They are nothing special.


The leg press focuses on the lower body without limitations coming from the back. This is great for lifters with long femurs who can’t feel their quads working that hard during squats.

The leg press provides an opportunity to lift five trucks of iron, but maxing out and doing sets below 6-8 is not required.

In addition, the leg press allows you to train one leg at a time. This is good for those suffering from imbalances or injuries. When you’re doing single leg presses, the non-working side can serve as a safety measure – if you can’t continue, simply use the resting leg to finish the movement.

To avoid knee pain, don’t place your feet too low. If you do so, your knees will travel forward too much. This will put extra stress on the kneecap and the ligaments.


The squat is a good quadriceps exercise, especially for lifters with long torsos and short femurs. The individuals in this category can perform squats with fairly straight backs. Conversely, taller lifters with long legs and short torsos have to lean forward more. This makes the squat even more hip dominant. Many lifters with this structure have overdeveloped glutes in relation to their quadriceps.

If that’s your case, you can add front squats and/or squat with weightlifting shoes. The shoes will allow you to remain more vertical. However, the upright back angle will come with more stress on the knees.


Low bar squats are not the best quad exercise. The movement is even more hip dominant than the high bar squat. If you want to get big glutes, this is one of the best exercises you can do, but when it comes to quads – it’s subpar.


The Roman chair squat is a squat variation popularized by Vince Gironda. The exercise is designed to stress the quadriceps incredibly hard. This is a fine movement in theory, but most people will experience knee pain from it. There are better options.

The same holds true for the sissy squat also popularized by Gironda. It’s one of the most knee unfriendly exercises. The stress on the knee cap is very high. Avoiding it makes perfect sense to me.


The bodyweight pistol is a decent quad exercise. However, it requires fairly healthy knees. There are lifters who can squat heavy weights without knee pain but feel discomfort from leg pistols.

One of the reasons is that the leg pistol is usually done with a flexed back. This shortens the hamstrings and places more stress on the knees. Whenever the hamstring is shortened during a squat, the knees are vulnerable. {more}


The only lunge that NattyOrNot.com likes is the Bulgarian split squat. However, never do this or any other lunge variation with a barbell. It’s one of the best ways to hurt yourself. Stick to higher reps. If you need to add more weight, use a weight vest or dumbbells.


The heads of the quadriceps have different slow to fast twitch fiber ratio. The so-called tear drop or the Vastus medialis is slow twitch dominant whereas the Vastus lateralis and the Rectus femoris are fast twitch dominant.

This means that the quadriceps love high and low reps. The most common way to hit both is to use the squat as a lower rep exercise (5-7), and the leg press as a high rep exercise (8-12).

You can simplify the process one step further and simply perform a few high rep sets of the same exercise. If your strength exercise is the squat, you can end the session with a couple of high rep back-off sets for a complete quad workout.


If you are focusing on the lower body, you can train three times a week – heavy, light medium. If you don’t want to focus on the quadriceps, you can train less frequently and skip the light and/or medium days. Keep in mind that lower body training is particularly stressful on the mind.

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