Squat Less, Grow More?

For as long as I can remember, most people have believed that you absolutely need to squat heavy in order to grow, but some may call that brainwashing. I was one of those people for many years of heavy squatting—and many years of annoying back injuries. The good news is that there’s a way develop great legs while significantly minimizing the injury potential, yet still maximizing your muscle gains.

The solution is a version of Pre-Ex 3X for quads—but with an extra twist. Here’s one version of the quad routine…


Contracted: Leg extensions, 3 x 10
Midrange: Front squat, 3 x 5
Midrange: Back squat, 3 x 7

Stretch: Sissy squats, 4 x 12

Here’s what you do: Pick a weight for the leg extensions with which you can get 15 reps and for the front squats with which you can get 10 reps. This weight will obviously be considerably lighter than what you can normally back squat for 10. Now do the lower designated reps listed above all the way through.

Do 10 reps on the leg extensions, then immediately move to the front squats, with the bar across your front delts.

Do 5 reps of the front squats, rack it, put the bar across your traps with the SAME WEIGHT and then do 7 reps of the regular back squats.

After that tri-set, rest for 45 seconds, then do it all again, repeating the full sequence for a total of 3 rounds. You then complete the POF/3D full-range chain with sissy squats using 4X with 35 seconds between sets. That will finish off your quads with stretch overload, and a rather significant pump!

By doing the leg extensions and front squats first, you get a double pre-exhaustion effect before you even get to the back squats. That means the weight you use will be fairly moderate, and your lower back will be less taxed, but your quads will feel it BIG time.

If you can’t do the Pre-Ex 3X supersets because of gym crowds, just use the modified version of simply doing a complete 3X or 4X sequence on the leg extensions, and then go to your front-to-back squat attack.

You really don’t have to squat super heavy in order to build size, as it’s more about cumulative fatigue. You will feel your quads and glutes struggling with this routine, however, which just means that it’s helping you grow.

About the Author

Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns X-Rep.com where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog.  He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.