People are going to skip leg day from time to time. We can’t help that. But we can help tighten the noose on the list of available excuses. So you’re short on time? How about one killer quad workout that calls for 17 minutes of total work?
This condensed routine won’t take the place of maxed-out squats and leg presses but it is equipment-minimal, focuses on your quads and provides plenty of hobble-inducing muscle breakdown about a third of the time you normally invest on leg day.
The front squat lowers the demands on your hips and hams and shifts the emphasis to your quads. The position of the bar forces you to maintain a more erect body position, which also highly engages your deep core musculature. It’s not uncommon to feel sore in your obliques and transverse abdominis after a hard front squat session.
Here, you’ll do five picture-perfect front squats every minute on the minute. So keep a timer handy – a GymBoss (www.gymboss.com) is ideal but your smart phone stopwatch will suffice – and start each set at the top of each minute. Do five reps, re-rack it and rest until the top of the next minute. If you’re using your 8-10 rep max (8-10RM), your five reps should be challenging but you should still be short of failure. This adds a bit of metabolic conditioning to an already grueling workout. One study found that bench pressers who rested 30 seconds between heavy sets burned 50 percent more calories than a group who rested longer. Imagine what the carryover is for a structural move like the front squat.
The bodyweight squat has similar benefits because it allows you to keep an upright body position, again emphasizing your quads. Using the Tabata protocol – eight, 20-second bouts of work followed by 10 seconds of rest – allows you to log a relatively high volume of reps in a short period of time. If you keep the pace high but controlled, you will likely notch 120 reps or more.
You’ll finish the workout with three, minute-long squat holds. These can be done against a wall if you’re really trashed but you should strive to perform them in open space. For your first go, get your thighs below parallel and hold. If you fail before 60 seconds, stand up, shake it out and get right back to it. Your goal should be to hold for the full 60. On each subsequent set, it’s permissible to hold your squat a little higher. Trust us…that quarter squat on your last set will feel like you’re holding 400 pounds across your back.
THE QUAD WORKOUT
|Squat Hold||3||60 sec.|
1 Using your 8-10RM, perform five front squats every minute, on the minute for 10 straight minutes.
2 Immediately after your last set of five with the front squat, perform 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, eight times.
–Rest 1 minute after your Tabata squats.
–Rest 1 minute between squat holds.