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December 24, 2012
Quad Pump for Healthy Knees
For the last few years, glutes have been one of the hot topics in strength training. The premise is that many athletes lose optimal function of their glutes due to the repetitive demands of their sport, as well as poor body positions and prolonged misuse (sitting on a bus for 13 hrs). As a result, athletes lose the ability to properly activate the glutes which leads to decreased strength, poor inter-muscular coordination and faulty motor programs. Some have called this “Glute Amnesia”. At Sparta we take great care to address weak and inhibited glutes based on an athlete’s movement signatureTM. By looking at athlete’s GRF profiles and movement signaturesTM, we have now started to recognize that quad dysfunction is just as prevalent as glute dysfunction. This is most prevalent in the Loose signature.  For many of the same reasons (prolonged sitting, repetitive movement specialization), athletes lose ankle mobility, stop bending their knees, and develop “Quad Amnesia”. This loss of neural activation, inter-muscular coordination and strength is key to knee health and performance. As athletes lose the function of their quads, the vasti (medialis and lateralis) no longer maintain ideal tracking of the patella. The result is often tendinopathy (see Sparta Point).

Quads Are The New Glutes

Strategy for restoring quad function:
  • Soft tissue release (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, IT band)
  • Ankle mobility
  • Squatting (Squat, 1 Leg Box Squat)
Last but not least, we use a special exercise that specifically targets the quads – Sled Drags. Sled drags do a great job of restoring the inter-muscular coordination that affects tracking of the patella (see Sparta Point). Additionally, they result in a pump, that will guarantee to “wake up” your quads

Coaching Keys

  • Sit the butt (90 degrees at the hip and knee)
  • Upright posture through the torso
  • Keep the toes pointed straight ahead
We use sled drags as accessory movements, as well as in our GPP complexes. Heavy weights and time under tension are the keys. Load up your sled with enough weight that you can still maintain a slow but steady pace and go for time or distance (at 15-20 sec). Add several sets to the end of your workout and you will experience a crazy pump that will also make your knees feel better.
December 24, 2012
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13 thoughts on “Quad Pump for Healthy Knees”

  1. So how have you come to find this quad amnesia? What tests or assessments are you using to find this?

    Just wondering as I still feel most athletes are anterior chain dominated, although I do find high weaknesses in higher degrees of hip flexion.

    I do agree that quad strength is very key in injury prevention and force absorption, and is a valuable athletic quality.

  2. Michael,

    We use a force plate to assess vertical jump, and quad amnesia is shown by a lack of RATE. Many baseball players are lateral or posterior dominant due to the rotational nature of their sport.

  3. Why is a lack of rate linked to lack of quad strength or output?

    Wouldn’t a lack of rate be linked with a strength dominated athlete, who lacks reactive abilities. I would guess that high levels of rate would be associated with a greater output from the SEC and PEC muscles series, and a great nervous system.

    I really think your program and concepts are very interesting, just trying a get a better understanding of them. Thanks!

  4. Awesome ?s and thoughtd.

    That widely viewed concept of rate is based off isometric tests, the most common assessment of force time curves. A great nervous system is someone that moves efficiently, so too much RATE compared to FORCE and TIME is a poor movement signature.

    As far as strength dominant, that is also a general term. We have athletes strong on split squat and poor on deadlift, and vice versa. Strength is simply the ability produce force.

    Rate is essentially the ability to stop a movement, deceleration. The quadriceps are the chief muscle group involved in this phase, the limiting of knee flexion.

  5. GPP simply refers to “General Physical Preparation”. We use a series of sled marches, drags, and farmers walks to “ease” our pros back into training after a long taxing season.

  6. “For many of the same reasons (prolonged sitting, repetitive movement specialization), athletes lose ankle mobility, stop bending their knees, and develop “Quad Amnesia”. This loss of neural activation, inter-muscular coordination and strength is key to knee health and performance.”

    What’s the main purpose of “Soft Tissue Release” in this case?
    *** Increase ROM or Improve Neural Activation? ***

    I check this research:
    [An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force.]

    In conclusion, an acute bout of SMR of the quadriceps was an effective treatment to acutely enhance knee joint ROM without a concomitant deficit in muscle performance.

    And the researchers found no detrimental effects on muscle activation after the foam rolling.

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