Last updated on November 15th, 2022 at 10:59 am
It’s something that most of us want to know, “Why Aren’t My Quads Growing?”
No matter how many squats, leg presses, and leg extensions you do your quads never seem to pack on mass.
In fact, you may even find that you’re getting stronger, pushing more weight, and yet your quads are still stagnant in their growth.
I get how frustrating this can be, the struggle is real.
So, I’d like to share a few quad-growing tips that are proven to work.
Why Aren’t My Quads Growing?
There are various reasons your quads aren’t growing. Firstly, you may have become too focused on strength training. So, most of your quad-based workouts rely on heavy loads and low reps. Focus more on slightly lighter loads with higher reps. Furthermore, you can employ training techniques like pre-exhaustion, partial reps, and supersets to really force the quads to grow. You can also change the way you perform certain exercises like squats and leg presses, e.g. paused squats, narrow-stance squats, low feet and push through the toes on leg press, etc.
1. You’re Too Focused on Strength Training
Going to the gym is pretty simple in principle.
You put weights plates onto a barbell, perform your sets, and look to add more weight each time you lift (hopefully).
However, there seems to be an emphasis on lifting as much weight as humanly possible.
This is all well and good if your focus is strength-training, but it may not help you pack on size.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a perfectly acceptable way to get stronger and even to add some muscle.
Plus, if you’re lifting very heavy weights your muscles will literally be forced to grow.
With that being said, this is not the optimal way to pack on size and muscle mass.
In fact, you’ll see plenty of people who don’t look that physically strong and yet they lift an amazing amount of weight.
But, from a bodybuilding perspective it’s all about volume.
Basically, if you want to look muscular and swole then upping your reps, sets, and overall volume is the way forward.
I’ll even go as far to say that the opposite (of strength training) can be true of very muscular folk.
They look unbelievably ripped, chiselled, and toned, and yet are severely lacking in the strength department.
I will say that it is perfectly possible to have both size and strength.
However, if you want your quads to grow you’re going to need to do a lot more work.
We typically spend a lot of our time on our legs in everyday life, so they are stimulated daily when compared to other muscle groups.
So, they may need a little extra to get them to grow.
2. High-Volume Leg Training
You can still stick with the basics and stimulate growth.
However, you need to push yourself beyond the realms of what you believe is possible.
There’s no better way to get your legs to grow than squats.
But, rather than sticking to a 5×5 protocol you should literally go the extreme.
Try putting your 10-rep max weight onto a barbell and squatting for 3 sets of 20 reps.
The aim here is to get your 20 reps done no matter what.
So, this WILL involve having to take a break mid-set, but without re-racking the bar.
You’ll find that you need to stop and take 3-4 deep breaths occasionally once you get to about 9-10 reps.
Even if you have to do this with each subsequent rep, then so be it.
In fact, it could take you up to 3 minutes to complete one set of 20 reps.
That’s fine, just don’t let go of the bar.
I’m also a great believer in very high-rep training for movements like the leg press, hack squat, front squat, and leg extensions.
I see nothing wrong with performing sets of 20-30 reps, and once again using the same breathing protocol of “resting” when you get tired.
But, just don’t put the weight down, or move away from the apparatus.
3. Try Various Training Techniques
High volume is a great way to get your quads to grow, but you can also employ various training techniques.
Here’s a few that come to mind for me.
Firstly, pre-exhaustion of the quads.
This could be as simple as performing leg extensions first to really isolate the quads.
Then immediately go onto doing barbell back squats.
You can guarantee your quads will be screaming after just a few reps.
I will admit that I’ve never really been a fan of partial reps, but when it comes to hypertrophy they certainly have their place.
You could use this by only doing the top phase of leg extensions or leg press.
The same can be said of the hack squat.
I would be somewhat wary about performing half reps with both the front and back squat, but it is still possible.
Finally, supersetting quad exercises together is a great way to get that burn.
How about performing reverse lunges straight after your squats.
Then again you go directly from leg press to leg extension.
And if you’re brave enough, back squat, front squat, goblet squat, bodyweight squat.
The Most Brutal Leg Superset For Big Quads
4. You’re Too Focused on the Posterior Chain
There seems to have been a major shift to training the posterior chain in recent years.
And yes, I hold my hand up, I have been guilty of this too.
However, we have had it drummed into us how important the muscles behind us are.
In fact, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the posterior is where it’s at.
While most of us train chest, biceps, and quads in an attempt to “look good”, you would probably actually look better if you trained back, triceps, and glutes.
With that being said, it seems that many of us have gone too far over to the “Back Side”.
Yes, the glutes are the largest muscle in the body.
Therefore, training them will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
And this is true if you’re training for muscle, strength, fat burning, or weight loss.
However, if you want your quads to grow it may be time to scale back on the posterior chain training and focus on your thighs.
5. Change the Way You Perform Certain Exercises
I’ve already spoken about higher volume and using different training techniques to get your quads to grow.
However, you can make small tweaks to certain exercises which will hit the quads much harder.
As a prime example the traditional barbell back squat takes advantage of stretch reflex,
Basically, this is the body’s natural response at the bottom of the squat.
In effect, you squat down and literally bounce to come back up.
However, by performing paused squats you remove this “advantage” and your quads are made to work much harder.
So, you would squat down, count to 2 or 3, and push yourself back up.
Believe me, after just a few reps using your normal squatting weight your quads will know about it.
I also love performing narrow-stance squats.
In fact, I prefer these to front squats when it comes to hitting the quads.
Another example would be to place your feet lower when you leg press.
You’ll definitely find this harder, but you will be stimulating the quads to far greater effect.
Also, make sure you push through your toes rather than your heels.
But, obviously your entire foot should remain in contact with the leg press plate throughout the exercise.
You can also keep your feet low, but vary your stance.
A narrower stance will target the outer quads more, whereas a wider stance hits the inner quads.
When performing leg extensions you can also turn your feet in or out to target the quads slightly differently.
There are a huge number of options.
Jay Cutler’s Training Tips – How to Leg Press Correctly
I hope you have a better idea of why your quads aren’t growing.
The reasons vary from being overly focused on either strength or posterior chain training.
So, it’s time to focus more on higher reps and high-volume training.
You should also look to vary your training techniques, and even the way in which you perform certain exercises.
There’s no problem with performing the “basic” leg exercises, but some variety can really force your quads to grow.
So, that’s the front of the legs dealt with, now let’s look at a problem that many of you have with the back of the legs.
Here’s what I have to say about feeling hamstrings curls in your calves, as opposed to your actual hamstrings.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.