Squat is King
If you’ve been around the gym long enough, you already know that back squats are King. The key to a great leg workout is PAIN, and there’s no better way to force your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to grow than to smash multiple sets of squats. It’s also vital to change up the angle to keep your training varied. Here are 5 different styles to keep the squat in every leg routine and accelerate your way to killer wheels.
Back Squats, Narrow vs. Wide Stance
Humans are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, habit breeds small muscles. Next time you go to squat, pay attention to the width between your feet. You’ll get the most total leg muscle activation by using a stance width that’s a bit wider than shoulder width, and that should be the stance you always come back to for maximum growth. Every few weeks, spread them out wider and sit back into the squat to recruit more glutes and hams. Other weeks, narrow it up and let your knees go an inch in front of your toes to train the quads.
Let’s face it, front squatting is damn uncomfortable. Does that mean you’re going to skip them? Hell no. If you’re able, you can hold the bar like an Olympian with your wrists bent back and the bar sitting in the groove made between your delts and neck while keeping your elbows high. If you lack wrist mobility, the bar is still up against the neck, and your elbows are going to stay high, but turn your hands over and cross your forearms so you can push the bar up towards your neck to stop yourself from dropping it. Front squats are excellent for training the glutes and quads by working them through a complete range of motion.
To really focus the quads, try standing on a 30 degree incline wedge or putting some 10 pound plates beneath your heels. Drive through your toes to keep tension running through the front of the leg to dominate each head of the quadriceps. This technique can be combined with the front squat to maximize anabolic stimulation.
The box squat is typically performed with the back squat, and it can be performed in a few different ways. The first is as an aid to make sure you’re sitting back into the squat to recruit more hamstrings and glutes. The second is to work on power generation out of the hole. This means you need to set the box LOW. Sit down on to the box, stay tight for 1 second, then drive up as fast as you can. Working the extremes of the range of motion can get you extreme growth, and more strength means you can handle more weight and that means more gains!
If you thought the front squat was too uncomfortable, let me introduce you to zercher squats. The zercher squat involves holding the bar in the crux of your elbow. It tears up the skin on your forearms and biceps pretty good if you don’t have a smooth fat bar or elbow sleeves, but it is a great builder of the upper back, core, and … biceps. The gym bros would do it for biceps, but it’s too brutal. Zercher squats can get you even lower into a squat than a front squat for giant glutes and quads, too. Make sure to keep the bar tight to your body and a good arch in your back.
Put these to the test. Work one of these in on each of your leg days to break up the monotony of the same squats week after week. Hell, work in two and get the massive legs you’ve always wanted!