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Quad Activation, Tension

I’m 48 and in pretty good health injury wise but I have learned to do one heavy mechanical failure lift and one stretch/activation lift
Ex. Overhead press/lat raises or floor press/cable flies, meadows row/straight arm pull downs etc…
This gives me a good workout without too much joint issues
Question is what is a good quad combo?
I have been using Bulgarian split squats as my main quad builder due to training at home and some back issues.
Leg extensions kill my knees as do sissy squats.
Any suggestions?

Mainly looking for size


The BSS to me is really more of a glute medius builder unless you can get some exaggerated knee flexion going. It’s not that the quads don’t get work, but generally the shin stays perpendicular to the floor, which means the moment arm is much longer from the hip, thus the glutes and hams get more loaded.

Do you do your squats with an elevated heel ever?

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I’d maybe suggest a big squat movement whether it may be a front, back or box squat and then putting more of a stretch on the quads specifically with heels raised, slow eccentric squat movement using a barbell or dumbells; just to get a big stretch in the quads (maybe even add a pause). I am a big fan of Bulgarian split squats but, as said by the big smart guy above me, I don’t find they target quadriceps very specifically.

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No I have not really done them that way but I will try next leg workout
Front squats or a goblet squat with heels elevated

The quad is the one muscle I have always struggled to feel working.

Out of curiousity on the descent all the way down or does that take focus off quad?

The quads take the brunt of the tension no matter what, but activation does increase as you get deeper. The important thing to know is that all the “bad” shearing forces at the knee happen above 90 degrees. So squat to at least parallel to avoid that problem.

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Thanks I will try this week!

Exactly what Paul said!

Just to add my 2 cents, I too, after 2 knees surgeries always had trouble with quads. What I found worked the best without knee strain was:

  1. Goblet squat: use something like a 4020 tempo for sets of 10-15, your quads will be fried

  2. Sled dragging. I used to drag a huge tire on the parking lot. Nothing burnt my knees like that ever again

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I have what I call the “lazy-man” leg solution. It’s high-rep/ high intensity but doesn’t require you to put a barbell on your back:

Quad Superset: Alternate Leg Extensions with Leg Press for 5 sets of high reps

Ham Superset: Alternate Back Hypers with Leg Curls

As with traps, I prefer to do these for Tabata intervals. Usually 5 rounds or so.

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