"Speak softly and carry a whole bunch of iron." That should be Abel Albonetti's motto. This MuscleTech-sponsored and Team Bodybuilding.com athlete has no time for spit-inflected diatribes. He's all business, quietly reducing even the fittest individuals who follow workouts like this one to whimpering puddles of sweat.
All right, guys, go kill those quads.
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Albonetti starts off with leg extensions to force as much blood as possible into his quadriceps. He performs sets of 30, 20, 10, and 10 reps. This is essentially a warm-up, so don't go to failure. Pick a weight that lets you do all the reps with good form. Don't let the weight rest at the bottom. Maintain continuous tension on the target muscles throughout. Your rest period should be about 90 seconds.
Get into the meat of the workout with back squats, one of the major leg builders that takes the kind of energy you have at the start of a workout. Before you jump into the deep end of the pool, warm up. Albonetti typically starts with about 3 sets of 8-10 reps at a lower weight. As with the leg extensions, don't go to failure. Keep your back straight and maintain constant tension in your legs. Don't lock out at the top.
"When I'm squatting, I like to use knee wraps to keep my knees warm and flexible," Albonetti says. "I also use squatting shoes to help me break parallel just a little bit more. Then, when I start my working sets, I'll throw on a weight belt. These accessories aren't necessary, but I believe they reduce injury risk."
Albonetti likes to hit the front squats after back squats. Most lifters can't handle as much weight on front squats as they do on back squats, so lower your poundage and focus on maintaining a mind-muscle connection and using proper technique.
"When you do front squats, you mainly feel it in your quads," he says. "Front squats decrease the stress on your glutes and hamstrings, so you can go down to parallel and get in the hole a little bit deeper."
Superset: Leg Press and Walking Lunge
Start with higher reps for the leg press: 20 reps on the first set, 10 on the second, and 10 on the third. Rest 60 seconds between sets. For the fourth set, do a 100-rep dropset. That's no typo—100 more leg presses.
Here's how to do the dropset: Stay with the same weight you worked up to with the last 10 reps, but when you hit failure, strip off some weight and go to failure again. Strip the weight again, and do as many reps as you can until you hit failure again.
"When you get down to about 45 percent of the weight you stripped off, don't go any lighter," says Albonetti. "Instead, rest longer. Rack the weight, rest for 10-15 seconds, then keep repeating this until you hit those 100 reps."
From there, move directly into the lunges, which are a struggle even when you do them first thing. Doing them now will make you want to crumple to the floor, but keep your back straight and focus on form. The good news is that you can still rest 60 seconds between sets, and Albonetti says you can go light and work on your mind-muscle connection.
At this point, your legs are probably killing you. Oh well, time to knock out 4 sets of 12 hack squat reps. Piece of cake! Albonetti suggests bringing your feet together a bit more than you did on the leg press.
"At this point in the workout, it's not about the weight anymore," Albonetti says. "I'm not going for extremely heavy weight. This is all about the feel and focusing on that mind-muscle connection. In a workout this intense, there's always a danger of hurting yourself. The hack squat protects your body and reduces injury risk."
Superset: Leg Extension and Sissy Squat
Now that you've had a chance to "rest" doing hack squats, it's back to the torture table for more leg extensions—this time with blood-flow restriction (BFR) thrown into the mix. Place the band as high up on your quad as possible with a tightness of 7-8 out of 10.
"If you don't have any wraps for BFR, just do straight sets without them," says Albonetti. "You'll get a decent pump, but I really recommend getting ahold of some bands and giving BFR a shot. The pump you experience is unreal."
For the sissy squats, grab a band and hang it up high. As you lean back and descend, feel that stretch in your quads before coming straight back up. Do 5 sets, going to failure on each one, which should be at a range of 10-15 reps. Rest 45 seconds between sets.
Depending on your rest periods, Albonetti's quad workout can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. As he puts it so well, "By the end of this workout, you should be dead."