You can't build a house without a foundation and you can't build an impressive physique without a great set of legs. One of the biggest disadvantages many have when trying to create the illusion of giant legs is their lack of quad sweep. Even if your legs aren't the thickest, if you have a pretty decent sweep, they'll still look pretty good when viewed from the front and back. The quad sweep is the outer part or lateral side of the thigh (the vastus lateralis) that juts out from the leg in a rounded, bellowing manner from the hip to the knee that gives the appearance of a full and wide quadriceps. It helps create the illusive X-frame that everyone is in search of when paired with a wide set of shoulders and a small waist. To ensure that you are working towards developing that area of your upper leg as best you can, try incorporating the following tips in all of your leg day sessions.
Tip #1: Point Your Toes Outward
Any time you perform squats, leg presses or any other type of exercise that sees you squatting or pressing in some form, keep your toes pointed outwards and the pressure on the lateral sides of your feet. By doing this, you direct the tension being placed upon your upper leg from the exercise to the lateral side of your quad which will emphasize the need for more work to be done by that exact muscle. Your goal should be to feel the exercise working the vastus laterals from hip to knee and especially at the midpoint of those two landmarks where the bulk of the muscle size will be. If you can do that, you'll see growth fairly quickly in that area.
Tip #2: Use Unilateral Training
Often times people get caught up in numbers and worry far too much about how much weight is on the bar when they are squatting or how many plates they can pile up on the leg press. While that strategy can be good for some and you definitely have to put in the time on those two exercises with lots of weight, sometimes when focusing in on one specific area of your quads you have to change things up; that change can come by way of unilateral training. By focusing on taxing one leg at a time, you can really give yourself a chance to connect with the muscle being worked, adjust your form until you feel the muscle working exactly where you want to feel it and then put all of your focus and energy into one leg at a time. Many times when training legs, one leg will be stronger or more dominant than the other and take up more of the strain. By doing things unilaterally, this won't happen and both quads will receive the same amount of attention.
Tip #3: Invest in Proper Footwear
Running shoes were meant for running and not for supporting your efforts in a squat rack. You're asking for a whole lot of trouble and a whole lot less in the gains department if you aren't wearing a proper pair of training shoes while doing legs. You need a flat soled shoe with a high top design for maximum support and for the ability to explode from a stable foot surface. When you're emphasizing a certain stance for targeting your quad sweep, there's no way you can do it properly in a shoe that will have you rolling off the side of the sole and/or blowing right through the weak material that makes up the rest of the design. Thankfully, Heyday Footwear has these issues solved with every design you will find in their line up and when it comes to training legs, nothing beats the Tactical Trainer or the Super Shift.
Bodybuilding is all about creating that illusion I mentioned earlier and the better you can get at adding on muscle mass to areas of your physique that will enhance that, the better. Work hard each and every leg day, never miss a leg day and always wear your Heydays!
Author: Dana BushellAST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc