Chicken legs at the gym are something to watch out for – teasing people about an under worked lower body that’s way disproportionate over the upper body has spawned many jokes about “forgetting leg day”.
So when you do get your leg workout in and you’re pretty happy with the size, take it to the next level by achieving quad separation. That’s basically when the lines of your quads are well-defined or, dare we say, chiseled.
Quick Quads Lesson
Just so we’re on the same page, let’s break down the anatomy of the quadriceps muscles real quick.
The quadriceps femoris muscle is the large muscle group covering the front and sides of your thighs. This muscle group has 4 parts: the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris.
The vastus lateralis begins at the outer side of the knee and runs alongside the outer part of the thigh to the hip. It is the largest and most powerful muscle in the quadriceps muscle group.
The vastus medialis is the most inner or medial part of the quadriceps muscles. It begins from the inner side of the knee and extends along the inner part of the thigh.
The vastus intermedius is located along the upper portion of the femur, and covers the front and side parts of it. It’s between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis, and is mostly underneath the rectus femoris.
The rectus femoris is located in the middle of the front of the thigh, and overlaps the other 3 sections mentioned. It is responsible for knee extension, hip, and thigh flexion. Quads exercises mostly focus on this muscle because of how much it encompasses.
So when you see someone with these sections clearly and separately defined in their thighs, they have transcended beyond mere man and have achieved quad separation.
Some of the best exercises you can do to also transcend mere man:
You can do this exercise to warm up and as a burnout exercise at the end of your workout. For this exercise, you’ll need a leg extension machine.
- Adjust the padded bar so it rests above your foot
- Using your quadriceps muscles and not your foot, push the bar up
- Pause at the top and feel your quadriceps contracting
- Slowly lower to the starting position without the weights touching the stack
- And repeat.
For this exercise, you will need a barbell, dumbbells, or weight plates.
- Position barbell on the front of your deltoids, or on the uppermost part of the arms at the top of the shoulders
- Place fingertips under the bar just outside of your shoulders (you can also use lifting straps, or use a cross grip)
- Step back from the rack and place feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outwards
- Keep your core tight and shoulder blades pulled back
- Sit your hips back and bend your knees
- Once your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground, pause and return the starting position
- And repeat.
It may not sound like it, but these are an excellent high repetition burnout exercise that’s great for quad separation. You can also use this as a warm up exercise in place of leg extension exercises.
- Hook your feet into a sissy squat bench
- Keeping your core tight and chest up, slowly sit back
- Once your buttocks near the ground, stand back up
- And repeat.
It’s a very simple yet highly effective quad separation exercise. You can also perform it without a sissy squat bench:
- Place two dumbbells or a step of about 2 to 4 inches underneath the soles of your feet
- Grab on to a squat rack or pole to help keep your balance
- Lean backwards while maintaining a straight line from your neck to your knees
- Go as far back as you can, then return to the starting position
Eventually, you can perform this exercise without needing to balance yourself on a pole or squat rack. Once you’ve done that, you can add another layer of difficulty to it by holding on to a weighted plate on your chest while performing this exercise.
Training for quad separation requires a focus on a higher repetition range than what you would normally do (about 15 to 25). If you’re falling short on your reps, incorporate drop sets, with minimal rests in between each drop.
Don’t forget to visit our shop for gym gear and accessories you can use. Since exercises that target your quads also work your knees a lot, be sure to check out our knee sleeves to help you stay injury-free!