In the realm of bodybuilding, massive quads and ripped leg definition can be a great advantage, whether moving through your quarter turns or in the thick of a pose-down. Definition and separation of leg muscles only manifests with consistent hard work. Adding certain variations to your leg workout along with a solid foundation of lower-body lifting can help get you the separation and definition you want.
In the roster of compulsory bodybuilding poses, there isn't a single pose that doesn't involve the legs. Each and every pose, including your neutral stance, is an opportunity to engage and show off the legs. The quads should be flexed at all times. Side poses such as side chest and side tricep provide the opportunity to display quad thickness. With rear poses, even though the focus is on the back, the poses are just as much about hamstrings, glutes and even calves. Of course, front abs and thighs are the coup de grace where you can really flex your striations and let it be all about the leg.
The quadiriceps, or quads, have three major sections: the vastus lateralis, rectus femoris and vastus medialis. Basic lower-body exercises such as front squats place emphasis on the rectus femoris on the top of the thigh, and close-stance squats place emphasis on the vastus medialis, the inner quad sweep. Sumo squats and deadlifts work the vastus lateralis, or outer quad sweep. Increasing your repetitions and varying your range of motion can take the separation into the realm of deep striation and definition. Branch Warren, 2011 Arnold Classic Champion, nicknamed вЂњQuadzilla,вЂќ performs as many as 100 repetitions of quad curls in a single set using repeated drop sets just as a warm-up. With squats and other compound movements, he stops his return movement at three-quarters of the range of motion so the quads never relax. A slow and controlled contraction at the outset of the movement followed by an explosive return that stops just short of the top with high repetitions forces definition and separation and leaves no room for intramuscular fat settling.
The hamstrings are often neglected in favor of the quads, but they are equally as important. Like the quads, the hamstrings have three sections: the semimembranosus, biceps femoris and semitendinosus. Kai Greene, 2012 Mr. Olympia Runnerup, follows a similar philosophy to Branch Warren in his leg workouts, staying in the range of 20 reps and stopping his return movement just short of locking out the legs. Try standing hamstring curls the way Kai Greene does, staying completely still. Avoid leaning forward on the elbows or bucking with the hips to move the weight up -- use just the hamstring. Choose a weight you can control and that allows you a good pause at the top to squeeze deep into the hamstring. Similarly, Kai Greene lifts his hips slightly at the top of the motion in lying hamstring curls to pause and fully contract the hamstrings. Try straight-leg deadlifts with your toes pointed inward to place extreme emphasis on the semitendinosus toward the inner thigh. Use drop sets or stop-and-go techniques to make sure you reach a full 20 reps before relaxing.
The gastroncnemius, soleus and tibialis anterior of the calf are small muscles that don't exhaust you quite as much as the quads and hamstrings when working them. But careful attention should be paid to all three sections for maximal leg definition and separation. Standing calf raises target the outer gastronemius, and seated calf raises work the soleus underneath. Reverse calf raises - rocking back on the heels and lifting the toes -- isolate the tibialis anterior. Certain cardio exercises such as jumping rope or incline walking are also great for targeting the calves.