Top 5 Leg Training Mistakes & How To Correct Them

 

Quads are huge muscles positioned right above your knees. They have the opportunity to grow to huge proportions, especially if you exercise them correctly. Nevertheless, modern bodybuilders rarely take the time to put in enough effort into these muscles so they are often much less developed than their full potential allows them. More often than not, the squat rack and leg presses that you do in the gym are not enough or you’re not doing them correctly, so let’s take a look at some of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to buff up their legs.

 

1. Incorrectly Targeting Areas

It’s a common gym myth that if you want to improve your quads on the account of exercising your glutes, you should position your feet a little bit forward. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing hack squats or using a Smith machine, this myth always comes into the conversation as “fact”. You would be surprised to learn that this isn’t the case. It even goes to that extent that a lot of bodybuilders think that positioning your feet wider apart will help with their outer quads, while having them more narrow than shoulder width will help with the inner quads and other muscles on the inside of your leg.

 

This is also false – the truth is that most bodybuilders don’t even know how to target the four quads (vastus lateralis, medialis and intermedius, as well as the rectus femoris), nor do they know how to exercise the many muscles located on the inside of your upper thigh.

 

Here’s how to fix this:

  • First, make sure that your toes are pointed inwards to intensify pressure on your vastus lateralis, meaning your outer quad muscle. If you want to put pressure on your inner quads, make sure to point them outward.
  • Second, make sure that your feet are under your hips at all times, especially when doing squats on a Smith machine. This will help you to put more pressure on your quads and less pressure on your glutes.
  • Third, your stance matters. If you’re holding a narrow stance, your outer quads will take most of the pressure, but if you’re standing in a wider stance with your toes pointed out, the toll will be on your inner thigh muscles.

 

2. You’re Shortening Your Range of Motion!

You can see this as soon as you walk in the gym. People put so much weight on their leg press that they can only do half a rep at most, and their knees don’t even bend the entire way down! If you take a look at the squat racks, the exact same thing happens, as well as the hack squat machines and the ones for leg extensions. When you see a bodybuilder working on his quads, the chances are that he’s not doing it right – instead, doing half of the motion while completely abandoning the other half.

This is because when you do complete sets will all of the intended reps, it gets really difficult and when you perform that same number but with half-reps, it gives you the illusion that you’re actually training as hard as you wanted. This means that more often than not, quadriceps muscles get less exercise and are being tasked with shorter, easier reps. If you do this you’re not only limiting the movement, you are also unnecessarily limiting your own progress.

 

Here’s how to fix this:

  • Make sure that you lower yourself to the point where your quads are parallel to the floor or the platform you’re exercising on. The only time that you’re not supposed to do this is when you’re doing intentional half-squats to concentrate on your medialis muscle. This way to exercise is scientifically valid, but it won’t help with your quads.
  • If you’re doing leg presses you should lower yourself down until your quad muscles are parallel to your feet. If you’re doing leg presses under a 45 degree angle, make sure that your knees lightly touch upon your chest, all the while your glutes are firmly in place against the leg press seat. This will intensify the pressure on your lower back as well.
  • When you’re doing leg presses or squats, make sure that you lockout or come close to a lockout.
  • When you’re doing leg extensions, you need to go from a complete stretch to a complete contraction and then into lockout of your knees. Flex your thigh muscles for best effect.
  • When you’re doing lunges, thigh adductions or other leg exercises, make sure that you’re doing full stretches and contractions.
  • If you want to push forward some more, do partials of a few chosen machine leg exercises, but this should be done after you complete your regular workout with full sets of complete reps.

 

3. Going Too Heavy

This is almost always in connection to the previous mistake. When you put too much weight on your machine, you are increasing the possibility of not being able to lift the entire thing for the necessary number of times. This happens mostly when you’re doing leg presses because of the high likeliness that you can lift more weight with this exercise than with other ones.

 

When you do this, it makes you think you’re really strong when you’re actually not doing anything to benefit your body. When you see someone lift 700 pounds for half-reps instead of 450 for the full and necessary reps, you want to do the same and most of the time that’s your mistake. When you’re doing deep squats you may even want to do pyramids until you reach just one or two squats with a whole lot of weight on them, but this is incorrect. The only thing you’re improving is your ego, not your muscles.

 

Here’s how to fix this:

  • Make sure you’re doing the complete movements – don’t cut anything short.
  • Make sure you’re performing sets with eight to twelve reps, no more and no less.
  • Keep your attention on your muscles instead of on the weight you’re lifting.

 

4. Squatting With Incorrect Form

When you’re doing squats, you should of course strive to have the bar parallel to the ground. However, even if you don’t, this is not the worst thing you can mess up. I’ve seen people lean so forward that their hips are way back. This way, they’re putting the pressure on their hips, backs and glutes instead of their quads. This way of doing squats also carries a risk of injury – you could damage your spinal erectors, so if you don’t know how to do barbell squats with the correct form, don’t try to do them and don’t throw on a ton of weight just to impress other people in the gym. You could leave on a stretcher or worse. Practice your form until you no longer have any flaws – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s how to fix this:

  • When you’re standing in a stance wider than your shoulders, have your toes pointed outwards, but make sure that you keep your body as straight as possible. If you’re a bit taller you might need to widen your stance to accommodate your necessities.
  • Make sure that the arch in your lower back is emphasized at all times during the squat.
  • Your eyes should be straight forward and your head stable and locked in place.
  • When you do the actual squat make sure that your butt is positioned over your heels, as if you were about to sit down.
  • When you’re lifting up from the lowest point of the squat, you will need to drive your hips up before you do the same with your knees.
  • You can practice your form by sitting on a bench (with just a light connection between your butt and the bench) and standing up from it, set at parallel. You can practice this with very little weight or without any weight at all, and it will help you get your stance in order.
  • Try doing squats on a Smith machine until you get your form right, and then keep going with free weight squats for best effect.

 

5. Failing at Failure

When you’re training your legs, more often than not you’re doing pushing movements such as front squats, walking lunges and leg presses. If you do these with full intensity it will make your thighs feel like they’ve just been hit with a flamethrower and since it’s so uncomfortable most people don’t spend enough time experiencing that burn. If you regularly do superset biceps and triceps workouts or forced reps of bench presses and side lateral drop sets, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to put the same pressure on your legs as well, just because it’s going to hurt too much.

As I said, the number of bodybuilders who actually go all the way through the pain is not very high, instead most of them take to low-rep training. If you want to reach the maximum possible intensity, you want to do the following – reach muscle failure on five and then on fifteen reps. It won’t hurt as much when you reach those 15 and experience failure. When you do those two sets, get up and do a 15 rep set of hack squats or lunges. This will help you reach the maximum possible progress in a single workout.

 

Here’s how to fix this:

  • Make sure that you do sets of ten to fifteen reps for maximum intensity.
  • Techniques to boost your intensity are okay to use sometimes. These are your classic supersets, partials and rest-pause to push sets after full-rep failure.
  • Know that pain is a part of exercising and especially a part of any complete quad workout.
  • Finally, make sure that your legs change positions according to your target muscles. Also, do full sets of eight to twelve reps, with proper form and all the way to muscle failure or beyond.
  • When doing squats or leg presses, your legs should at least be perpendicular to your thighs.

 

Source: http://www.fitnessandpower.com/training/bodybuilding-misc/top-5-leg-training-mistakes

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