It’s hard to think of anything more painful than quadriceps training. If you’re looking for a nice relaxing quad routine then you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m about to teach you five of the most brutally effective quadricep tri-set routines of all time!
- Routine #1: The 6-12-25 Method
- Routine #2: Devil’s Tri-sets
- Routine #3: Nick Mitchell’s Quads Tri-Set From Hell!
- Routine #4: Squat Till You Die!
- Routine #5: A Dorian Yates Inspired Quad Routine
In my experience the quadriceps respond especially well to bodybuilding training methods that prolong the time under tension of a set.
This is largely because the quadriceps are composed of a healthy mix of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers.
Tri-sets are absolutely perfect for beefing up the size of your quads in record time because they allow you to thoroughly exhaust the quads with a variety of exercises and rep ranges.
The procedure for performing a tri-set is very simple: you select three separate exercises for the same muscle group and perform them back-to-back with only 10 seconds rest in between exercises.
After performing the third exercise in the series you would rest several minutes before repeating the entire circuit several more times.
- Perform exercise A, rest 10 seconds
- Perform exercise B, rest 10 seconds
- Perform exercise C, rest 2-4 minutes, then repeat the tri-set 2-4 more times
In this comprehensive guide I am going to teach you five incredibly effective quadricep tri-set routines that you can start using today to build tree-trunk thighs!
If you give any one of these accumulation routines an honest try for 3-6 workouts you can expect some of the best hypertrophy gains of your entire life.
Please note that I write all of my training routines with all of the loading parameters clearly defined. If you have any trouble reading the routines in this article then you should consult this article.
OK, I’ve made you wait long enough. Now let’s get down to business…
Routine #1: The 6-12-25 Method
The 6-12-25 method is a special kind of tri-set where you perform 6 reps on the first exercise, 12 reps on the second exercise, and 25 reps on the third exercise.
The tempos are also usually manipulated so that you are spending less time completing each rep as the rep ranges get higher.
The 6-12-25 method is one of my all-time favorite training methods for building muscle mass and dropping body fat.
In fact nearly every single one of my clients that has used the 6-12-25 method has reported some of the best gains of their entire life.
Of course there are some individuals who will not perform well on this type of routine. They tend to have dopamine-dominant neurotransmitter profiles which is very easy to screen for using the Braverman Assessment.
Check it out:
- A1: Back squat (heels flat / medium stance), 3-4 x 6, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Leg Press, 3-4 x 12, 3/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Leg extension, 3-4 x 25, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
The key to making this routine work for you is to select the appropriate weights for each exercise.
You want to use your true 6-rep max on the back squats, your true 12-rep max on the leg press, and your true 25-rep max on the leg extensions.
It is incredibly difficult to push yourself to the brink of failure on high-rep leg exercises but that is exactly what you have to do on this routine!
As Charles Poliquin used to say,
“Your spleen should come out through your left eye on the last rep. Your left eye, not the right eye!”
I recommend you complete 3-4 total tri-sets for this routine.
If it is your first time performing any sort of extended set quadriceps training such as supersets, tri-sets or giant sets then you are probably better off starting with 3 total tri-sets.
After 1-2 workouts your strength endurance should skyrocket and completing 4 total tri-sets will be doable.
Like all the routines posted here you are free to perform some hamstrings workout after finishing this quadriceps routine. This article should give you plenty of ideas for hamstrings training!
Routine #2: Devil’s Tri-sets
I learned this superior training method from Germany’s #1 strength coach Wolfgang Unsoeld.
There are two reasons this training method is called “Devil’s tri-sets.” The most obvious reason is that you are going to perform 6 total reps on each part of the tri-set.
This is an excellent way to stimulate tons of growth in the fast-twitch muscle fibers. You know, the muscle fibers with the greatest potential to become bigger and stronger.
The second reason is less obvious: after completing this tri-set 3-5 times you are going to think I’m the devil for putting you through this workout 😀
Check it out:
- A1: Front squat (heels flat / medium stance), 3-5 x 6, 3/1/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Peterson hack squat, 3-5 x 6, 3/1/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Walking DB lunge, 3-5 x 6**, 2/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
**Perform 6 reps per leg.
A lot of people seem to be under the impression that low reps are great for building strength but are rather ineffective for packing on pounds of muscle.
This is an overly simplistic way of looking at things.
Or as my mentor Charles Poliquin used to say,
“You can’t look at the world through a straw! You have to consider the big picture.”
One of the problems with lower rep sets is that it is hard to accumulate enough time under tension per set to maximally stimulate growth.
After all, muscular hypertrophy tends to be optimal for most individuals when sets last between 40-60 seconds in duration. A great way around this is to perform lower-rep sets in a tri-set!
For example, in this routine each of the individual sets takes about 18-30 seconds to complete.
If we string three exercises in a row together with only ten seconds rest between exercises then suddenly the total time under tension of the tri-set goes through the roof!
Don’t let the lower rep ranges fool you, this is one incredibly effective training method for hypertrophying the fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Routine #3: Nick Mitchell’s Quads Tri-Set From Hell!
I consider Nick Mitchell another one of my mentors. Nick really opened my eyes to some incredibly effective and creative ways to train for body composition improvements.
Here is a tri-set routine that Nick had one of his personal training clients perform many years ago. His client was a very skinny individual with a textbook ectomorph body type.
After a workout like this I’m sure his quadriceps blew up in now time.
Nick Mitchell’s Quadriceps Tri-Set Routine From Hell!
- A1: Seated machine leg extension, 3 x 20, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Walking DB lunge, 3 x 8**, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Leg press, 3 x 20, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
**Perform 8 reps per leg.
Here is the complete training video for this tri-set. I recommend you watch it the whole way through:
Wow… and I thought I trained hard in the gym! I can only imagine the locker-room pep talk that Nick gave his client before a workout like this.
The high rep ranges are going to be absolutely fantastic for blowing up the legs. After all, the quadriceps respond incredibly well to sets of 20 on various exercises.
Of course there is a dark side to performing 20s on quadricep exercises: they are some of the most painful sets you can perform in the gym.
If you want to get the most out of this workout then you had better be prepared to dig deep and leave it all out on the gym floor.
Or you can just skip leg day altogether and forget about reaching your goals. While you’re at it go ahead and lay down on that couch of yours and scarf down some Cheetos while watching Oprah re-runs. The choice is yours!
Routine #4: Squat Till You Die!
This tri-set routine features three separate squatting exercises that are designed to absolutely annihilate every muscle fiber in your legs.
I feel like I’m repeating myself here but this routine is going to hurt. That is simply the nature of performing higher-rep quadriceps tri-set routines.
You had better put your big-boy pants on before attempting this workout. While you’re at it you may want to keep a “puke bucket” close by to you during your sets.
Check it out
- A1: Front squat (heels flat / medium stance), 3-5 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Back squat (heels flat / medium stance), 3-5 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: DB squat (heels narrow / elevated), 3-5 x 15-20, 2/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
I am particularly fond of the last exercise in this routine: the DB squat with your heels narrow and elevated. This exercise goes by many names and is often called a “cyclist squat,” “sissy squat,” or “Tom Platz squat.”
By elevating the heels and bringing them closer together you dramatically increase the mechanical difficulty of the exercise for your quads.
This exercise is especially good for targeting the VMO, or the teardrop-shaped quadricep muscle located on the inside of your knee.
This muscle plays a critical role in preventing lower body injuries and really make a visual impact when it is fully developed.
Routine #5: A Dorian Yates Inspired Quad Routine
I personally don’t train using Dorian’s “Blood And Guts” training style and it not very often that I use his exact program with my coaching clients. However, Dorian is a man that I keep coming back to for training inspiration.
Here is a quadriceps tri-set routine featuring the three main quadriceps exercises that Dorian used during his prime.
This is more of a machine-based workout so you will need to be able to hog multiple pieces of equipment at one time to make it work.
If you train in a busy commercial gym then this routine is not for you.
Check it out:
- A1: Seated machine leg extension, 3-5 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Leg press, 3-5 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3: Machine hack squat, 3-5 x 8-12, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
One of the nice things about using machines is that you don’t have to worry about balancing the weights or your other muscle groups such as your lower back limiting your performance.
Of course this also means that you have an obligation to push yourself harder than you normally would on free weight exercises. If you half-ass a bunch of machine exercises then you are never going to realize your goals.
You are now fully equipped with five of the most effective quadriceps tri-set routines I have ever written.
I recommend you focus on just one of these routines for 2-4 weeks before experiencing with the others or switching to another type of training program.
Be warned: these routines are all rather painful. If you want to build big, muscular quadriceps in record time then you are going to have to learn to not only tolerate the pain, but enjoy it.
Always remember: the mind is more important than the body. Where the mind goes the body will follow.
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your strength training endeavors!
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