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Squat Variation for More Aesthetic Lower Quads?

Good morning,

What’s the best squat (or lunge) variation for putting mass on my lower quads/thighs? When I squat (high bar or low bar), most of the hypertrophic response seems to be in my upper thigh area. I don’t like the effect as it gives the appearance of having large hips. I attached a pic for reference. The red circle is where I get most of the response. The green circle is where I want it. Any ideas?


To put more emphasis on the lower quad, I started doing two things:

  1. A front squat variation with my heels elevated. I’ve found that higher rep sets without locking out your knees is my best way of keeping my knees from becoming achy…

  2. The leg press machine, but I keep my feet as low as possible on the platform.

I hope this is somewhat helpful!

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Thanks for the response!

I have actually been incorporating more front squats, but my upper back fatigues before my legs. I’m going to keep working at it and will definitely try your suggestion about not locking out. Ditto on the leg press machine. Leg press gets a bad rap, but it’s the only thing that’ll give me a good pump in my quads.

Perhaps the concept of pre-exhaust might be useful here. So, theoretically, contractions and tension are all that matter when building muscle. That being said, there’s still the mental aspect of lifting heavy.

Perhaps, instead of making front squats the primary lift in the beginning of the session, throw it in at the end so that you can use lighter weight while still creating the same relative tension.

As an example, I love to make regular back squats my main leg lift for ‘overall leg development’. And I love squatting heavy (6-10 reps). Then, later in the session, I’ll throw in the leg presses or elevated front squats and lift lighter weight for sets of 20-25.

Smith machine front squats?

Smith machine hack squats and heavy reverse sled drags will target the vastus medialis (tear drop shaped lower quad muscle). I get better results from the sled drags but if i have to work out in a commercial gym I’ll use the hack squats as an accessory lift after barbell back squats usually for high reps with lighter weight.

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This is the movement I prefer…low & close, only the ball of the foot in contact with the platform, 15 reps or more, no lockout at the top.

Do you have access to a safety squat bar? That’s probably the best overall quad builder I’ve ever come across. Bulgarian split squats are pretty good as well.

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I got to a pretty unremarkable commercial gym, so no access to a safety bar squat.

What I have done I is shift my focus from back squat to front squat. I’ve added the leg press with feet low on the platform. I definitely felt that in the right place. I’ll the smith machine hack squats in mind too.

Again, I appreciate all the feedback!

good ole leg extensions really hammer the VMO

I’ve had my best luck with single leg work. If doing lunges, keep the steps shorter so the quads are emphasized over the hams and glutes.

Granted, my primary reason for building the vmo has been more for strength and athleticism than aesthetics.

I knew a guy who would swear by finishing a workout with quarter squats and the top 1/3 of the leg extension for the tear drop. I just reckon he didn’t like full RoM - he had pretty good legs though.