Training the Quads for Maximum Size Gain – Part One

Want big legs? Then listen up as we start walking through what you need to know to add size and strength to turn your chicken legs into tree trunks!

We’ll start with the quads.

The front of the upper leg in the human body is made up of a group of muscles called the quadriceps femoris, also called the quadriceps extensor, quadriceps, or quads for short.

The quads are used for pushing movements with the legs, integral to jumping, walking and running, and used in moves like leg extensions, squats, and leg press. If you want to develop your leg size and have massive quads, then you’ll want to learn more about the location and function of these four muscles and how to work them in order to gain size.

Location and Function of the Quadriceps Muscles

The quadriceps (which gets its name from the Latin for “four-headed muscle of the femur”) is made up of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. This group of muscles is responsible for extending the knee and flexing the hip.[i]

The rectus femoris runs straight down the middle of the front of the leg, and covers most of the other muscles. It originates at the ilium at the iliac spine. It plays a huge role in extension of the knee and flexion of the hip.

The vastus lateralis is on the outer portion of the thigh, and originates on the lateral surface of the femur. It aids in extension of the knee.

The vastus intermedius is on the front of the thigh, and isn’t seen. It originates at the anterior surface of the femur and aids in extension of the knee.

The vastus medialis is on the inner portion of the thigh and is what forms the “teardrop” shape.[ii] It originates at the medial surface of the femur and also works to extend the knee.

Here’s another look that shows the vastus intermedius better:

Moves that work the glutes or hamstrings will often work the quadriceps as well. The development of your quads depends on the exercises you do and the position in which you hold your feet. Read on to find out how to target specific areas of your quads.

How to Work the Quads

You’ll never grow big legs unless you do the work. Some people are blessed with the ability to pack on the muscle on their quads, but most people have to hit their legs, and hit them hard, to build the muscle. If you’re in the second group, don’t despair. Just be persistent…and be prepared for some pain. :)

The number one way to build leg size is the squat.[iii] Not everyone can do squats, though. If you’re lucky enough to be able to do them, then go ahead and add them into your routine if you haven’t already. It’s the fastest way to grow your legs, if you do them properly.

Another way to grow your legs is through the leg press. If you want to work all the muscles of your quads, move your feet around in different positions. For example, a high, narrow position works your outer quads more, while a wider foot position works the inner thigh muscles the most.

Other moves to work and build the quads are hack squats, forward lunges, and leg extensions. Be sure to do the hack squat with varying foot positions to hit all the heads of the quadriceps. Forward leg extensions really hit the “teardrop” part of the quadriceps. Leg extensions are the final move to perform.

Volume, Work Load, and Tension for Huge Quads

If you want huge legs, or even legs that are bigger than those on a chicken, you’ll need to work them as hard as you work your upper body. It will hurt, and you’ll want to stop. But if you are faithful to the program and keep at it, you will see results. The trick is to get the proper volume, work load, tension (and of course, nutrition).

Just like with other muscles, you need to work your quads to failure. Forced reps are what make muscles grow, and that’s where you’ll see progress. When you work out, do a mix of sets where you perform low reps with heavy weights and ones where you do high sets with a lower weight. Play around with time under tension with slow negatives to really get a pump going to help grow those muscles.


So far you’ve read about the muscles of the quadriceps, the location of each muscle, as well as the function of the quads. You also learned about the best exercises to perform, as well as foot positioning, to best develop huge thigh muscles. In Part two, you’ll see a routine developed for gaining mass in the quadriceps, how to prevent injury, and what to do to grow the biggest legs possible.





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    How do you do leg extensions with a wide and then a narrow stance. MY leg extension machine is very narrow not allowing a wide movement?_

    • Rick Gray
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      Hey Dennis, good catch – that was meant for a different part of the post. I've removed it! Most leg extension machines don't allow for much variance of width as you've said.

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