A1: Really focus on keeping the tension in your glute here. Make sure your pelvis is neutral and avoid the inclination to pull ancillary muscles in to help. The off leg should be at 90º of knee and hip flexion. Take your time through the set and contract the glute as hard as you can in the pause at the top of the rep.
A2: This is just meant to get blood into your quads and knees so don't think it has to be intense. Make sure the band is parallel to the floor and looped right behind your knee crease. Resist knee flexion and contract your quad as hard as you can when extending the knee. Ensure that the knee and toe are perfectly lined up.
B: Hold a DB in your contralateral hand and use your ipsilateral hand for balance. You should be holding onto a stable object like a rack or pole. Keep these slow tempo and controlled. Allow your knee to drift forward over your toes for more knee flexion and quad activation. Take rest as needed between each leg and use straps so your grip doesn't give out.
C1: Note the tempo. Focus on contracting your quads as hard as you can and getting the fibers as short as possible at the top of the rep. Rest 60 sec before C2.
C2: Position your feet lower on the platform to encourage more knee flexion and quad bias. Get as deep of a ROM as you can without compromising your low back/pelvic position. You will have to reduce the load compared to what you would be able to do fresh. Rest 60 sec before C3.
C3: Hold onto something stable like a rack or bar for balance. Keep your hips extended and push your knees over your toes to fully lengthen your quads. Take extra special care to slow the eccentric and ease in/out of the deeper ROM. Try to only use your upper body for stability rather than assistance and force the quads to bear the load. Full rest before returning to C1.
D: Take 2-3 feeder sets of 3-5 reps just to get comfortable with the pattern. You should already have an idea of the load you're going to use so you can limit energy expenditure warming up. Only perform ONE working set here but take it as far as you can with perfect control and depth. Lockout your knees during the set as needed but really push your limits here.
E: Note the tempo. Just focus on getting a full stretch/contraction and forcing blood into the calves.
Goals of this Session:
ANNIHILATE THE KWADS!!!
-5-10 minutes of steady state cardio such as incline walking, elliptical, recumbent biking
-Soft tissue manipulation in the form of 3-5 min of light foam rolling the mid-back, quads, TFL, and calves. More specific work can be done using a small lacrosse ball (or something similar) and working through bound up tissue in the glutes and psoas.
-Specific mobility with machine adductions, banded wall sits abductions, and slow beast crawls.
Common Exercise Modifications:
Single Leg Hip Thrusts- B Stance Hip Thrusts, Single Leg Feet Elevated Glute Bridge, Hip Thrust Marches, Single Leg Glute Kickbacks
Band TKEs- Single Leg Wall Sit, Single Leg Extensions, Spanish Split Squats, Single Leg Step Downs
DB Bulgarian Split Squats- Hatfield BSS, DB BSS (holding in each hand), FFE DB BSS, Smith BSS
Leg Extensions- Feet Elevated Banded Quadruped Knee Extensions, Banded Leg Extension Sissy Squats, Seated DB Leg Extensions
Quad Focused Leg Press- Quad Focused Straddle Squat, Quad Focused Belt Squat, Quad Focused Squat Press, Quad Focused SSB Squats
Bodyweight Sissy Squats- Reverse Nordic Curls, Sissy Squats (with apparatus), Leg Extensions (hips extended)
Hack Squats- Pendulum Squats, Quad Focused V Squats, Quad Focused Belt Squats, Quad Focused Smith Squats
Single Leg Seated Calf Raises- Single Leg Lying Leg Curl Seated Calf Raise, Seated Calf Raise (bilateral), Single Leg Seated Leg Press Calf Raise
Common Program Modifications:
Advanced trainees- Take sets of "C" sequence 1 rep closer to failure on each movement. Perform D as a Rest Pause set with ~15RM.
Intermediate trainees- Add a set to B and change it to 3x10-15 (2RIR). Remove C3 entirely.
Beginner trainees- B should be 3RIR. Remove C3 entirely and break up C1 and C2. C1 should now be 3x10-20 (3RIR). C2 should now be 3x8-12 (4RIR) and changed to general focus (rather than quad focused). D should be changed to 3x6-8 (4RIR). Adjust E to bilateral as well.
Male trainees- Take more rest between sets of C sequence and make sure to perform 2-3 feeder sets on C2 before beginning the working sets. Volume may need to be decreased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (stronger trainees may need less working sets).
Female trainees- To get a little bit more diversity in the session, B can be subbed for a loaded hip extension or hinge pattern if desired. Shorter rest between working sets and less feeders/warmup sets will generally be needed. Volume may need to be increased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (better conditioned trainees may need more working sets).
Common Injury Modifications:
Knees- Depending on the severity of the knee issues, it may be recommended to avoid this session entirely due to the knee-intensive nature of quad focused work. If it can be worked around, we can first look to pre-exhaust the quads slightly before getting into the heavier work to limit load. C1 and C3 are going to be pretty stressful on the knee joint due to their mechanics and sheering forces. It is recommended to either slow the tempo down more or limit the extreme ends of the ROM (contraction and stretch, respectively). Working in the mid-range of fiber length with movements like spanish squats might be a better option as an accessory. And lastly, D may present some problems depending on the make/model of the machine. My guess would be the the intensity and work prior to D should serve as an effective work-around, but if not, modify to a more freely moving variation such as a belt or smith squat.
Hips- We could see some problems crop up for those that have issues with deep hip flexion. Impingements are common and the volume of squats that we have within this session could cause some irritation. It would first be recommended to diligently go through prehab hip mobility drills to attempt to "clear some room" for the flexion. Secondarily, a conscious limitation of the ROMs can also work but would run somewhat counter to the overall goal of the session. Quad annihilation really requires a full ROM through knee flexion. In this case, it may just be trial-and-error to figure out which machines/modalities/variations are comfortable to perform. If the hip issue is more capsular, try to adjust your feet positioning through various degrees of external rotation and abduction and see if you can find something that works.
Low Back- This session is purposefully devoid of too much axial loading or low back stress but it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk. For C2, we have potential issues when fatigue builds and forces compromised pelvic positioning (i.e. the hips roll up off the pad). The solution for this is as simple as just being more cognizant and deliberate during the set to not get lazy and allow it. Also, make sure to NOT force the ROM. And for D, the axial loading is controlled due to the back pad with the machine but compression is still present especially for stronger individuals. The best work-around here is to either wear a belt and/or pause in the stretch to limit the compressive forces.
Feet/Ankles- Though slightly odd at first glance, B and C3 have divergent problems associated with ankles and feet. For B, ankle mobility is required for the back foot to rest on the elevated surface and those that have experience with BSS will know that those foot arch cramps are no joke when they hit. The solution to this is to use a padded, round ankle support so that the back foot doesn't have to contort and can stay relaxed. For C3, we're going to have a novel issue: notably, the stress being put on dorsiflexion and the balls of our feet. Unfortunately, this is a product of the variation and cannot easily be avoided so it would be best to modify the movement from the get-go if you're having associated pain.
"Stimulate; Don't Annihilate" has been a go-to saying within the bodybuilding/fitness realm for decades.
The ethos is strong—our muscles aren't getting some physiological boost by training beyond our means of recovery and adaptation. There is only so much that our bodies can be subjected to before our hypertrophic machinery gives us a big, fat middle-finger. Knowing how much is too much is a crucial landmark for trainees and coaches to monitor; it is our glass ceiling that can withstand some pressure but we best not attempt to blast through.
Having said all of that, sometimes human nature compels us to just demolish a workout for no good reason other than we can. We all have those sessions that still linger infamously within our memories. The ones that were so brutal, so miserable, so over-the-top with their insanity that they will never die or be forgotten. It's like you can almost still feel the lactate swelling just below your skin's surface. Or the bittersweet resurgence of your pre-workout meal after inextricably being summoned back up. Or the sadistic thrill of physically and psychologically pushing yourself to places you didn't even know existed.
We know it's wrong but it feels so right.
Letting our inner asshole out is exciting!
It gets our adrenaline surging!
And truth be told, those sessions can teach us some of the most profound and valuable lessons; you learn a lot about yourself when on the edge of breaking.
So I'm not here giving you permission to knowingly annihilate your quads—that would be very irresponsible of me!
No...I strongly recommend putting your ego aside and always sticking to the goals of the session 😉