Focus on foot placement to maximize your leg workout efforts.
The squat is the one of the best exercises to help develop the quadriceps as squatting causes the desired natural anabolic hormonal response required for muscle hypertrophy and overall muscle growth, but are you aware that you may not be hitting all areas of your quads purely because your feet are not in the right position?
The guide below will help ensure that your foot position will maximize your lower body gains.
Feet Shoulder-Width Apart
Having the feet shoulder width apart with the toes pointed slightly outwards will help the overall development of the quadriceps muscle.
Feet Close Together
Having the feet close together with the toes pointing straight ahead will help with outer thigh development (vastus lateralis). Exercises that will help develop this muscle include:
Feet Wide Apart
Having the feet wide apart with the toes pointed at a wide angle will help with the development of the inner thighs (adductors) and front thighs (vastus medialis). Lunges and the adductor machine offer great ways to help develop these muscles.
When back squatting. it’s good to have shoes with a flat heel so that you can get as close to the floor as possible. However, if you are performing the front squat it is beneficial to have footwear with a heel of at least 1 inch, which will allow you to get more depth.
Great Alternate Squat Exercises
Here are some great squat exercises that have either been forgotten, or not fully utilized in the gym as much as they used to be. During your next leg day give them a try.
This is a great isolation exercise and excellent if you are unable to perform regular squats.
-With feet a few inches apart, hold on a piece of apparatus to keep you steady, this is your starting position.
-Bend the knees, while raising up on your toes and lower yourself to the floor.
-Your head and shoulders should be tilted backwards.
-Go down as low as possible and at this point you should feel a stretch in the quadriceps muscle.
-Slowly come back up to the starting position and continue your set.
This exercise will help you develop the lower area of your thigh and will help develop the teardrop near your knee.
-Place your shoulders under the padded bars and position your feet accordingly.
-Bend your knees and lower yourself down, try not to go down more 90 degrees as after this point you will start to add more stress to the hamstrings.
-When coming up lock your legs for the last few reps as this will emphasise the separation.
Side lunges are more effective than front lunges because the weight is centered over the legs, whereas in normal lunges this is not the case and less stress is placed on the quads.
-Place a barbell across your shoulders, stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. This is your starting -position.
-Take a step to one side (right leg to the right hand side, left leg to the left hand side), and bend your knees with the other knee touching the floor.
-Push yourself back up to the starting position.
-You can either lunge one leg at a time or alternate both legs.
This is another great isolation exercise, and helps develop the outer sweep of the quadriceps.
-Bring your arms up and under a bar which should already be on a rack. The elbows should stay high and level with your shoulders. Cross your arms and grasp the bar. This is your starting position.
-Lift the weight back off the rack and slowly come down keeping your chest high and head upright.
-Lower yourself down to a 90 degree angle then slowly come back up to the starting position.