Goal 4: Emphasize Your Quads

Because multijoint leg movements work your legs from top to bottom, it’s impossible to completely isolate one area over another. However, you can emphasize one area over another. In this case, we’re trying to maximize the range of motion of the knee joint while limiting the range of motion at the hip joint. One way to do this is by changing up your foot position on machine exercises.

The front squat also emphasizes the quads more than, say, a barbell back squat does by shifting your center of gravity forward. With heavy partials, you’re not going deep, so you can really overload the quads; put on up to 30 percent more weight than you normally use, but go only part of the way down.

This workout follows a reverse-pyramid protocol, which allows you to take more total sets to muscle failure. As the rep target goes up, be sure to lighten the weight commensurately. Note that this workout covers only quads and glutes; add hamstring and calf exercises as desired.


Do as many warm-ups as you need, but never take them to muscle failure.
Choose a weight that allows you to reach muscle failure by the target rep listed.
This scheme follows a reverse pyramid, meaning you lighten the weight after your first 1-2 sets for slightly higher reps.
If you have a spotter, do a few forced reps on your 1-2 heaviest sets of each exercise.

Quad-Emphasis Routine
1 Front Barbell Squat

4 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 12 reps (Lighten the weight after your first 2 sets.)

2 Hack Squat

3 sets, 8, 10, 12 reps (Keep feet low and hip-width apart on the platform.)
3 sets, 6 heavy partial reps (Descend only about halfway down

3 Leg Press

3 sets, 8, 10, 12 reps (Keep feet low on the platform.)

4 Leg Extensions

3 sets, 10, 10, 12 reps (Last 2 sets are dropsets.)