The quadriceps make up a large part of the legs and so growing them will result in a much bigger and stronger looking lower body. Training more makes muscles grow more but your time is limited. Are two workouts a week enough to grow the quads? Here’s what you want to know.
The quads are usually trained in combination with the rest of the lower body. A single intense leg workout with 8-12 heavy sets is enough for the majority of people to see muscle growth. Two workouts would result in extra growth but can be difficult to recover from physically and mentally.
If you’re interested in what are enough workouts, sets and repetitions for your quads to grow, keep reading.
Is Training Quadriceps Twice a Week Enough For Muscle Growth?
So let’s say you want to grow your quads. Are two workouts a week enough to grow your them?
Two workouts with direct quadriceps exercises a week is more than enough for most people to see muscle growth provided the resistance, amount of sets and repetitions is enough to give a growth impulse to the body. For most people one intense leg day a week is enough to see growth.
With more than 2 dedicated quad workouts a week, you will also start cutting into the training time you can give to other body parts. Also, since the quads are often trained in combination with the rest of the lower body, you have to take recovery into account (physical but also mental).
Most muscle growth happens in the first 24-48 hours after a workout. Muscles usually recover fully in about 48 hours. The quads are large muscles and are trained in combination with other large muscles. That means it can take a bit longer to fully recover them back to their original strength. This means it would be quite hard to fit in more than 2 quad workouts per week for most people.
Also, don’t forget the mental part. Most people don’t enjoy leg day. It’s heavy, painful and generally not very enjoyable. Most people are happy to get one leg day a week, let alone two. People like to skip leg day because it’s not fun. Keep track of what you can handle mentally. Also because a heavy leg day will likely reduce the amount of energy you can give to a workout the next day even if it’s another body part.
You also have to take into account that the quadriceps are used for many other exercises besides direct quad exercises. Pretty much all compound leg exercises use the quadriceps to complete the movement. For leg exercises, the target muscles might be the glutes or hamstrings but often you can’t do them without using the quadriceps. That means they do get some stimulation if you follow a full body workout routine, even before targeting the quadriceps directly.
For most people, doing the heavy compound lower body exercises is enough to grow the biceps and also the glutes and hamstrings. Until you’re an intermediate level weightlifter, just doing the compound exercises like squats, lunges and leg press are going to be plenty of training for the quads.
Of course, if you want to promote the growth of the quads over the glutes and/or hamstrings, you can do isolation exercises like leg extensions that only target the quads.
Since you’re already using the quadriceps for most leg exercises, you can add on a quadriceps workout after a workout where you train the lower body. That way you can skip the warm up sets and save some time. I would recommend doing the isolation movements at the end of the workout otherwise you might not be able to properly do the other lifts.
Amount Of Workouts And Training Volume
As you might understand from above that one leg day (possibly with quad isolation exercises) is enough to build muscle. One more workout a week might help you grow more but you’ll notice potential recovery issues. More than 3 workouts a week is going to be problematic for many people if you do a decent amount of volume per workout. If you do more workouts, you’ll have to reduce the amount of heavy sets you do per workout to make sure you can recover properly.
One thing to understand is that the amount of workouts doesn’t say much. Compare two people working out the same body part in any gym and there will be big differences in amount of sets, repetitions, weight and effort. Working out a body part twice a week by doing a 1 bodyweight squat isn’t going to be enough for anything. Even doing that every day of the week isn’t going to do anything because that’s not something your body isn’t used to so there is no need to adapt. However, if you use heavy weights (for you), perform 8 heavy barbell squat sets aside from warmups and do that twice a week, you’ll see big results.
So what do you actually need to grow your quadriceps?
There are four main factors you should get right;
- Exercise selection
- Amount of sets
- Amount of repetitions per set
As said above, there are many exercises that use the quadriceps. Most leg exercises will use the quadriceps. But to really grow the quadriceps (more than the rest of the leg), you have to do some isolation exercises on top of that. Look at exercises like the leg extension.
The bulk of your quad training is still going to come from the compound exercises. Think about lunges, squats, leg pressing, etc. Pick 2-3 compound lower body exercises and add leg extensions on top of that if you really want to focus on the quads.
8 heavy sets per week (spread out over the workouts) is considered the minimum effective dose of volume for quadriceps. That’s the minimum amount to see some growth. On the other hand it’s also not recommended to do more than 12 heavy sets per workout and probably less if you’re a beginner.
If you want one leg workout per week, aim for 10-12 heavy sets that target the quads (spread out over different exercises.) If you want to do two workouts per week, aim for 16-18 sets per week (8-9 per workout). If you do more than that, recovery could become a problem. If you don’t recover fully before the next workout, the extra work can be detrimental. You might not notice this the first or second week but in the long run it will become an issue.
Quadriceps should be trained with 5-20 repetitions per set, like most other muscles. Lower repetitions (with higher weight) tends to build more strength while higher repetitions (with less resistance) build more muscle.
Using a combination of sets with low and high repetitions is a good idea to give the muscle different training impulses. This would be a good use of two workouts: one workout with heavy weight and low repetitions, the second workout with lighter weights and high repetitions.
Also, in general it’s a good idea to do the compound exercises like barbell squats with heavy weights/low reps and isolation exercises with higher repetitions. If you only have one workout a week, it’s a good idea to change the amount of reps between exercises.
The last part of the puzzle is the weight or resistance to use. Most people will use dumbbells or barbells to work out the quadriceps but DIY solutions, bodyweight or resistance bands are also an option. In the end it doesn’t matter that much what you use, it’s all about how difficult it is for your to move that weight.
You want to use a resistance level/weight that you can complete the wanted amount of repetitions in a set with while keeping about 2-3 repetitions in reserve. Don’t go to failure on every set or even the last set of every exercise. There are several research papers about the results of training to failure but they have conflicting results. Some conclude it’s beneficial for muscle growth, others say it doesn’t matter and others yet say it’s detrimental.
Besides results the injury risk of going to failure is higher which is not worth it in my opinion. Especially not on exercises where you are under a heavy barbell. In a machine the risks are lower.
This means you have to balance between the weight being heavy enough to be challenging but not too heavy so you can’t finish all the sets. It’s a fine line that will take a while to find.
Possibly the most important thing for getting sustained muscle growth is progression. Muscle growth is the bodies way of adapting to the stress of the last workouts. That means the next workout should be a bit heavier than the last one to give the body a new level to adapt to.
The easiest way to do that is to add a small amount of weight to the exercises every workout. In the beginning, this will be pretty easy although after a while, adding weight becomes more difficult. Trying to increase the amount of repetitions can also be a good way to progress if a weight increase isn’t possible.