StackingPlates Training Series – Quads/Hams

I am going to group quads and hamstrings together, simply because I train them together. I’ve designed numerous splits (particularly for female clients) into a “Lower A / Lower B” configuration. But, for the sake of simplicity, I’m keeping these together for this post.

When I’m visualizing my leg training, I am visualizing the lower half being broken down into the following high level categories:
– Inner Quad
– Outer Quad
– Hamstrings
– Calves
– Glutes

Before I begin routine design, I will first ask myself if anything is “out of balance”. In other words, if I feel a particular muscle group is lagging behind the others then that group will automatically become prioritized. As many who follow me already know, my primary goal is building a perfectly balanced and aesthetically appealing physique. So, in the last few months, I felt my hamstrings needed some extra attention…they are nicely developed, mind you, but I feel they are just slightly underdeveloped as they compare to my quads and so they get worked first.

I’ve done a lot of experimentation over the years and lately have fallen in love with antagonist style training. Simply stated, this is where I will alternate from hams/quads/hams/quads/etc. This isn’t the only way to approach things, but I’d urge you to give it a shot if you’ve never done it before.

The last bit of info before diving into specifics is understanding the physiology of different muscle groups and forgive me for making this a bit high level. There are quite a few different types of skeletal muscle fibers (Type I, Type II, Type IIA, and type IIX). For the sake of simplicity, we will focus only on the first two for this article.

The hamstrings, are made up of between 45-65% type I fibers and the various heads of the quad range from 30-50%. Because we know that type I fibers display a slower shortening velocity than type II fibers we can theorize that they will respond better to higher rep ranges.

Okay, so with all this out of the way, we now know that:
– Hamstrings respond well to higher rep ranges and “pump training”
– Quads respond well to lower rep ranges and “power movements”
– For overall development, you want/need to exhaust both type I and type II fibers

Here is a sample routine that demonstrates these principles in action…

– Leg Curls (various techniques can be employed here including supersets, dropsets, 21s, one leg, etc)
– Leg Extensions (same as above)
– Hack Squats
– GHRs and/or Romanian Hamstring Raises
– Leg Press (always performed one leg at a time)
– Alternate Leg Curls (performed on standing machine)
– Calf Raises
– Seated Calf Raises and/or Donkeys
– Glute Bridges and/or Hip Thrusts

I do not personally subscribe to having a target rep or set scheme in mind; only the high level principles discussed above. I focus on mind and muscle connection above all else and will cut an exercise short if I feel that it isn’t a good day for it or, conversely, will extend more sets if I’m really feeling the contraction well that day.

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