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Super Shock for a Lagging Lower Body

Q: Do you have a great workout for bringing up my quads and hamstrings? I can front-squat bodyweight and back-squat 50 pounds over bodyweight.

A: An agonist superset is a good method for shocking your legs into growth. Rather than supersetting work for groups that are antagonist, or opposing, muscles—such as when you pair a biceps exercise with a triceps exercise—you alternate two exercises that work the same muscle group. Working the same muscle group for the second exercise significantly increases the amount of work for that muscle group.

Here are two samples of agonist supersets for the quads and two for the hamstrings. You’ll see that the rest between supersets is only 10 seconds, which in effect increases the time the targeted muscles are placed under tension.


Quad Superset 1

A-1: Front squats, 4 x 4-6, 4/0/X/0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds, then decreasing the weight by 10 to 15 percent

A-2: Heels-elevated back squats, 4 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0 tempo, resting 3 minutes


Quad Superset 2

A-1: Bent-knee deadlifts, 4-6, 4/0/X/0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds, then decreasing the weight by 10 to 15 percent

A-2: Dumbbell lunges, 4 x 10-12 per leg, 2/0/X/0 tempo, resting 3 minutes


Hamstring Superset 1

A-1: Lying leg curls, feet neutral, 4 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds, then decreasing the weight by 10 to 15 percent

A-2: Romanian deadlifts, 4 x 10-12, 4/0/2/0 tempo, resting 3 minutes


Hamstring Superset 2

B-1: Poliquin neutral leg curls, 4 x 6-8, 8/0/X/0 tempo, resting only 10 seconds, then decreasing the weight. In this exercise variation you lift the weight with feet dorsiflexed—toes pulled toward you—and lower them plantar flexed—toes extended. Because you’re stronger with the feet dorsiflexed, you can use more weight and increase the eccentric load on the hamstrings, therefore increasing how hard the muscles are contracted.

B-2: 45 degree back extensions, 4 x 10-12, 4/0/2/0 tempo, resting 3 minutes


Because of the difficulty of these workouts and because you need to prevent overtraining, perform only one quad and one hamstring superset twice per week. Using the examples presented here, on Monday you could do quad superset 1 and hamstring superset 1; on Thursday perform quad superset 2 and hamstring superset 2. After three weeks switch to a different training protocol.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit  IM




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