Blood for the Quad God
If you’re in need of a bigger set of wheels and more quad strength to improve your low bar squats, you’ve come to the right place.
I wrote this specially for improving knee tracking during the bottom range of a heavy low bar.
Do you find that once you hit a certain weight, your hips shoot back and up, and you lose your knee flexion?
Then get thee more quad strength!
This provides a lot of volume to the quads, works on both full and partial ranges of motion and we finish with what is kind of a bit of leg “cardio.”
There to build up not just some overload and volume but also to help you become better at buffering lactic acid.
The fitter you are, the better you recover, so avoiding very high rep sets and cardio training entirely is actually a great way to reduce your capacity to grow stronger.
It’s not really a “fun” workout after the first pairing, but it’s effective.
This will take you about 1 hour if you do 3 sets of 3 for B1, or about 90 minutes if you choose to do 8 sets.
Complete any glute isolation, core work and back preparation techniques as usual.
I’d highly recommend checking out the Bird Dog exercise, which help you to keep a neutral spine when squatting.
Spend about 10-15 minutes running through some of these along with glute medius exercises and drills to not only squat heavier, safer, but to ensure better technicality.
Let’s start with A1 and A2, which are your warm up!
A1 Lying hamstring curls – 5 sets of 8 reps (warm up)
Your hammies don’t have a huge amount to do in a squat. Because they are a bi-articulate muscule (they cross two joints), their main role is to help stabilise the knee during the bottom portion of the squat. Squatting nice and low, with a lot of knee and ankle flexion, just feels better when your hamstrings are warm and a little bit pumped.
This is something I learned from John Meadows – if you can pre-pump your hamstrings prior to squats, you feel like you’re squatting on a cloud and your power out of the hole just feels good.
Do sets of 8 and work up to a weight where you could do 10, but won’t.
Keep the weight here then on your very last warm up set, use an isohold for about 30s and squeeze your hammies as hard as you can throughout.
You’re going to pair the hamstring curls with squats. (A pairing is like a superset, except you rest for 60 to 90 seconds in between movements.)
A2: Low Bar squats – sets of 5 (warm up)
Work up in weight until you get to about an 8/10 PRE for sets of 5. Go as low as your form and biomechanics allows, focusing on keeping your knees tracking forward and out.
B1: Low Bar Squats – 3-8 sets of 3 reps
Add another 10-20kg on top of your top set of 4, and do sets of 3 with this weight. Aim to make every set look and feel better than the last.
This should not be getting close to your 3RM, it’s merely a way to build up volume and to practice perfecting reps. The weight should be challenging but not fatiguing, particularly if you’ve opted to do the higher amount of sets.
Doing up to 8 sets of 3 in a squat session, with sub-maximal weight, is great for learning to perfect your technique.
To be good at squatting heavy, you gotta squat heavy.
But to be good at squatting heavy, you can’t be too fucked up.
So regardless of if you go for just 3 sets of 3 or 8 sets of 3, choose a Goldilocks weight and don’t get to failure.
You’re going to need to make the right decision for what’s coming later.
C1: Smith Machine Stationary Lunges – 4 sets of 10 reps
To get the right stance, pop the bar below where it would be for a high bar squat, and then move your heel of the working / front leg to where the bar is tracking.
This ensures that your stance will hit your quads, and your torso will be on a lean similar to that of a low bar squat. Keep your core tight, and drive your back knee straight down, and your front knee forward. Go as low as you can but do not lock out at the top – keep constant tension on the quad at all times. Superset this with
C2: Negative Rep, Single Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps
These are nasty. You’ll choose quite a light weight, but you’re going to lower it down for a count of three with only one leg at a time.
Use both legs to extend, then remove the non-working leg and “catch” the roller again to go straight back into extension with both legs. DO NOT REST.
It’s far more important that you go a little lighter on this set and complete all 20 reps without stopping, than it is that you choose a heavy ass weight and then have to break in between.
D1: Alternating Width Leg Presses – 3 sets of 50 reps
Yep, this is not a typo. Set up the leg press with approximately DOUBLE the amount you were squatting with for your sets of 3. This should keep you honest and prevent you from wussing out on the heaviness. You’re going to do 10 reps of leg presses with your feet high and together, then 10 reps of leg presses with your feet high and wide. Continue in this fashion without resting until you’ve done a total of 50 reps. Complete this 3 times through, resting for about 90 seconds between each set of 50.
It should take you no longer than 80 seconds to do each set of 50. By the last set of 50 you’ll probably be doing half-reps, but that’s OK.
Just focus on keeping the weight moving and not resting, don’t ever lock your knees out and get it done as fast as possible.