T Nation

Bill Roberts/Leg Extension

I saw in a below thread that you mention leg extensions as being an excelent mass builder for quads if done correctly. Could you please ellobarate on this some more. I have been a fan of the squats for many years, but have to admit that the results have not been as good as expected, despite the fact that I have worked up to 20 reps with a narrow stance, below paralell squat, aka SUPER SQUATS, with 405lb and singled 550lb. I would assume my legs should be at least a decent size, but they don’t reflect the strength I have gained. And yet I see cats squatting shallower with less weight for less reps and they seem to have better leg development. How would you suggest incorporating the leg extension in my quad routine? thanks for any assistance

Yeah, Bill, how 'bout it? I’d love to hear whatever tips you’ve got on tap…

I think Bill was being sarcastic…but I could be wrong

No, Bill mentioned this before. He does not do any deadlifts, leg presses, or any squats. He does not like the hip widening effect. So he does just leg extensions and leg curls. He outlined his workout routine a couple of months ago. Maybe you can find it by doing a search. He also mentioned that since he cut out squats, his quads took on a more teardrop shape.

I think genetics play a large role in quad/leg shape and development. There are many guys whose legs grow using presses and extensions for their primary movements; I also know some successful bodybuilders who sure do squat, but never until they’ve already done all their sets of presses and extensions. Whether this keeps them from going to failure too often or too heavy on squats, or whether it kicks in pre-exhaust, I don’t know. I’m just stuck with this “squats are the measure” thing in my head so I look at squats as the daddy of leg movements. On the other hand, I don’t have giant legs, either, just big ones (but I imagine I do too much cycling in the spring summer and fall).

John, yes I do agree that genetics determine muscle shape, but I think Bill is onto something as far as overall leg shape goes. It does seem to me that leg extension stress the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO)more than squats or leg presses do. Since most of the VMO is located near the knee, it may give the whole leg more of a tear drop shape. Perhaps this is due less due to increased work on the VMO and more due to underwork on the VLO, but leg extensions seem to have the same effect on me that Bill described, especially if I use the 1-1/3 technique, accentuating the last 30 degrees of extension.

Man who gives a shit, squats develop more then just your legs, same with deadlifts. Leg extensions develop shit all on the rest of your body.

I don’t think I have any really advanced
ideas on leg extensions, but here are my
thoughts.

Negatives, as with other exercises, are
very important. I see too many guys basically
letting the weights fall on their negatives
in the leg extension. I prefer 4 seconds
(actual seconds, not fast count).

Many guys can’t actually hold up the weight
at the top part of the leg extension. They
rely on momentum to get the weight up there,
and aren’t really training the top part of
the range. While I favor somewhat explosive
training, driving the weights fairly hard
and forcefully instead of slowly, it has to be
done where the weight is still being driven
hard, instead of coasting, in the top part
of the range. Then, the full extension should
be held for a second. It may be good to
sometimes do one-and-a-quarter reps where
you then lower the weight 1/4 of the way,
then do that top 1/4 of the rep again before
finally lowering.

It is also very important that the machine
have a suitable strength curve. Unfortunately
this may not be obvious: an appropriate
strength curve may seem too heavy on top
until you adapt to it. Personally, I like the
Med-X machine.

Many leg extension machines allow too much
flexion. I prefer for the knees to be flexed
no more than 90 degrees at the bottom position.
Some machines allow you to adjust this.

Another issue is that the leg extension is
for many users, definitely including me, one
where neural inhibition can impede lifting
much moreso than in many other exercises.
I solve this by warming up with single reps
done forcefully starting with very light weight
(about 1/3 of 1RM) with 20 seconds rest between
reps, and I let the negatives just drop (I am not wanting to fatigue the muscles.) As the weights approach working weight, I increase
rest between the singles to 40 seconds. The weight increases to a little past the intended
training weight, and then I take 2 minutes
rest before the first set, then typically 4 minutes rest between sets.

How many sets I do is something that varies.
I cycle the weights, starting a training
cycle at about 60% 1RM and ending it at about
90% of the then-1RM.

I think too many guys use excessively light
weight, trying for too many reps, and use
poor form on the leg extension, treating
it like a “toning” or “shaping” exercise.
And then the results they get (or lack of them) convince them that the exercise
really is not a mass-builder. But it is,
or rather, is if done correctly.

I re-thought my leg workouts about a year ago and decided to do the super deep squats and more deadlifts. I went fairly deep before but at 6’1" I figured I should stop being a wuss and go as deep as I could with out falling down. I put on a lot of size, as I am not any fatter but my waste size increased 3 sizes. My ass grew too. I don’t see any improvement in my legs so I am personally taking this thread to heart and changing again.