IFBB Pro Nathan Epler takes you through a grueling leg workout and shows you the four best exercises to build your quads.


Nathan Epler’s Quad Dominant Leg Workout 

Standing Calf Raise 2 20
2 30
Safety Bar Squat 2 6-8
2 8-10
Leg Extension 2 20-25
2 20, 12, 8
Hack Squat 1 15
1 Failure
Leg Press 2 15


Nathan fuels his brutal leg workout with HOSSTILITY pre-workout Watermelon Candy flavor. At just under eight weeks out from the Mr. Olympia, a big heaping scoop of HOSSTILITY is needed to help crank out daily cardio and weight training in the final weeks of prep.

In this workout, he does a lot of compound movements, which involve multiple joints and more than one muscle group. The primary focus is on the quads as this is a body part he is paying more attention to for the stage. Additionally, he hits his calves, a lagging muscle group that he has been working to bring up.

Standing Calf Raises
Nathan starts with standing calf raises, hitting them early in the workout to ensure they get the attention they need. He begins with two warm-up sets of 20 reps each set. He then moves into two working sets of 30 reps each, where he does 10 reps then pauses for 5 seconds at the top of the movement, and repeats every 10 reps until he hits 30 reps total. This training technique is one that he learned from John Meadows (aka Mountain Dog). The time under tension creates intense stimulation of the calves to help spur new muscle growth.

Leg Extensions
Next, he moves on to leg extensions, which he usually begins his leg workouts with each time. He starts with two warm-up sets of 20-25 reps each set. Following his warm-up, he does add sets of 20, 12, 8 reps each set. Add sets are similar in style to drop sets but working in the opposite direction. With drop sets, you begin with a heavier weight and reduce the weight as you move through the rep scheme, whereas with add sets, you start with a lighter weight and add weight as you move through the rep scheme.

Safety Bar Squats 
Squats follow leg extensions. Nathan has a limited range of motion when performing squats, so he uses a safety bar squat. He starts with two sets of 6-8 reps to get the muscle used to the movement, then moves into two working sets of 8-10 reps, going as heavy as possible to really tax the muscle. The goal is to go heavy enough that you hit failure in the 8-10 rep range.

Hack Squats
He then moves onto hack squats. He performs only two working sets of hack squats; one set of 15 reps and then another slightly heavier set to absolute failure. He uses a close-stance foot position on this exercise and focuses on driving up the weight from the outside of his foot. This puts most of the tension on the vastus lateralis, the long muscle on the outside of the quad, often referred to as the quad sweep.

Leg Press
Nathan finishes his quad workout with the leg press. He positions his feet wider than shoulder-width apart and completes two heavy working sets to absolute failure. The key here is to go to full depth to really tax the quads.