The quads or the Quadriceps is often what parents and athletes think need to be developed for faster sprinting. The quads are also what a lot of adults think need building to have “strong legs” Find out the truth!
For athletes there is something wrong with being quad dominant. I always say the quads are the brakess on the car and the backside(glutes, hamstrings) are the gas!
What is a quad or Quadriceps?
For those who don’t know – the quad is the front part of your leg – just above your knee and runs to your hip (simplified explanation, but hopefully you get the point/visual).
Before we get too in depth here are some general points of interest in this topic:
For an athlete – the posterior chain is the king. When we talk about the posterior chain at OC, we are talking about calves, hamstrings, glutes, low back, mid back, upper back, and triceps – that is your POSTERIOR CHAIN. So now we know what it is – and now we need to discuss what it helps us do. The posterior chain allows us the ability to run, hip hinge, squat, throw, jump, etc. We have the following equipment in the gym just to develop your posterior: Reverse Hypers x3, Inverse Curl, Standing Hamstring Curl, Good Morning machine, ATP, GHD x3, 45 degree back extension x2. For the quadriceps we have two – leg press and the hip quad machine.
Hamstring Training as a priority
What I mean is that your quads will be okay even without specific quad training(in almost all cases) – if you bike you are developing your quads but if you can pull your pedal through you will use more hamstrings. When you sprint and then start stopping that is you quad working to stop you – I always say your quads are your brakes but the hamstrings and ass are the accelerator, or gas pedal! The quad gets a lot of work daily – in everyday life – so focus on building the hamstrings in the gym.
What is wrong with being Quad Dominant?
I see more injuries to knees especially with people that are quad dominant. The quad is a brake when running so being quad dominant is not going to assist you in sprinting fast. The quad can get overdeveloped rather quickly and in turn the imbalances start causing some knee issues. All of these are problems. The hamstring is a bigger muscle group which in turns works to keep your low back injury free – probably the #1 complaint for aging Americans is low back pain. We have worked with many people in their 40’s,50,60, and 70’s that all have a reduction in back pain as soon as we start working on the hamstrings and building posterior chain strength.
I will use my brother(Patrick) as an example of being quad dominant. We were lifting at a younger age probably in early middle school. Our school and our weight training program – emphasized free squats(mainly back squats) Power cleans, bench press. Patrick was able to get a lot stronger doing these main movements. But as he got strong in these movements his quads vastly out grew his hamstring in size and also strength. Long story short, Patrick tore both ACL’s(each knee) in college(not that his injuries are 100% related to being quad dominant). When he started training at OC, just taking GP classes he has developed more hamstring strength and has significantly less knee issues than when he was in high school/college.
Build the posterior and be healthier!
If you spent 80-90% of your time training your posterior chain I believe we would have significantly fewer youth knee injuries, we would have significantly less low back issues for adults and overall be a healthier population. Also we would sprint faster!