Yes, you can use machines to build big quads, but these leg machine exercises will need to be modified for best results. Here’s what to do.
How much you will benefit from any leg machine depends on how well that machine fits your body. Here are some ways to modify your leg workouts to get more out of them.
Leg presses come in all shapes and sizes and require you to adopt different body positions and foot placements. No two people feel the same, which is why you end up spending 10 minutes adjusting your foot position before each set begins.
The optimal foot placement for quadriceps development is the one that allows your knee to move through its maximum range of motion. This tends to lower the pedal position instead of a taller and wider stance that emphasizes more of the glutes and hamstrings.
What’s the problem with putting your feet on the plate? It usually limits how deep you can go. Some machines will allow you to go deeper than others, but your anatomy will always limit you.
So try the Peterson variant. It allows your knees to move through their maximum range of motion.
Having your heels permanently lifted allows your knees to continue to move over your toes beyond the time your hips “run out” of space. The Petersen Leg Press allows you to apply load and tension through the quadriceps, no matter what type of machine you’re using.
Charles Polykin Am a big fan of these. Just check your ego at the door because you don’t need much weight!
If your gym has one of these and your goal is to build bigger quads, don’t skip it. A well-executed pendulum squat puts you in a great position to load your knee extensors through a wide range of motion. As a bonus, there is very little stress on your back.
But even with a well-designed machine, the top third of the movement is significantly lighter. This means you are limited by how much weight you can use, which will depend on how strong you are in the bottom two thirds. That’s one-third of the sports you’ll miss.
Squat with a pendulum resistance band。 Choose a medium resistance band (or two) and attach them to your machine. It will take some trial and error, but choosing a band that will help “balance” the load, where moving the top can be as challenging as the bottom.
The elastic band will accommodate your greater strength and pendulum squat design. Using the elastic band compensates for the machine’s resistance curve, which means you’ll have more tension throughout the entire movement, not just two-thirds of the way.
hack squat A favorite of bodybuilders for good reason. When your goal is purely aesthetics, one could argue that they’re a better indicator of how much weight you’re lifting than the traditional barbell squat.
The learning curve is lower, most people can better focus on their quadriceps, and train with more confidence close to failure. But not all hack squat machines feel great, and you’ll be lucky if you can find one that allows for a ton of adjustments.
the biggest issue? The sudden increase in load when you squat into the bottom hole.
Sometimes hack squats can irritate the knees. Why? This is the angle of the pedals plus more of your knees over your toes. For those of you with knee problems, that’s enough to make you give up any squats for life. Try using the reverse band method.
The difference between getting positive variable resistance from the band and using the band to help is mostly how it feels. While adding band resistance will increase the speed at which you descend, the reverse band approach feels smoother and should be considered a way to lighten the load on certain parts of the exercise.
Adding a band to your hack squat will help you start from the bottom position while accommodating your greater strength at the top of the move.
I’d recommend no more than a 20% difference between the top and bottom loads, but this requires you to know the exact resistance of the strap at full stretch when attached to the machine. This requires stretching the straps and measuring with a luggage scale, which is a pain.
So you better go with your gut. You want your hack squat to be as challenging on the bottom as it is on the top, and be pain-free the entire time. Next time, start with the same weight you loaded on the hack squat before, then use a one-inch strap to unload your weight at the bottom. Adjustments are made from there, either by adding weight to the machine or changing the straps.
There are various ways to attach the band to the hack squat; it depends on its design. If it has strap pins, use them. If not, you may need to get creative.
If you can afford to do bodyweight exercises, do it. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in the gym. Exercises like sissy squats and bench press sissy squats are rarely performed outside of bodyweight. No wonder you keep doing the same repetitions month after month!
Add resistance to your bodyweight quads and not only will you get better, but your quads will have no choice but to start growing again.
You can do regular girly squats (without a bench) using a weight vest or holding a dumbbell or kettlebell with the other hand. Bench sissy squats can be loaded any way you like — with dumbbells or kettlebells, a weighted vest, or a couple of resistance bands.
Use heavier dumbbells or stronger bands over time and watch the magic happen. Remember, sissy squats are all about finding tension. If you want to lift so heavy that your quads lose that feel, go lighter.
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