Walker annihilates a quad focused leg workout, points out the common mistakes that hinder leg growth
Written by Andrew Foster, C.S.C.S
Two weeks into his 2023 Olympia competition prep, Nick Walker is looking in phenomenal shape. While becoming Mr. Olympia is the primary focus of his life at the moment, Walker took time out to educate his followers about some minute details of leg training.
Nick Walker is an American bodybuilder that competes in the IFBB Pro League’s Men’s Open division. After earning the IFBB Pro card in 2020, Walker quickly rose through the ranks and became a top contender. He is the winner of the 2021 New York Pro and the 2021 Arnold Classic. Both the wins came within a year of The Mutant turning pro and imparted to him an aura of invincibility. The NY Pro win earned the 28-year-old a direct qualification to the 2021 Olympia. He did well at his Olympia debut but had to be satisfied with fifth place when faced with the top crop of the division.
The performance gave Nick Walker a realistic idea about his standing in the bigger picture and he decided to take time off to improve his physique. The off-season efforts showed their effect when Walker dominated the stage at the 2022 Olympia and achieved a third-place finish. He made a quick turnaround and competed at the 2023 Arnold Classic next, finishing second. He will now attempt to win the Mr. Olympia trophy by getting past Derek Lunsford and reigning champ Hadi Choopan.
Nick Walker is officially two weeks into his 2023 Olympia prep. He recently trained legs at the Dragon’s Lair gym to get a step closer to the Olympia version of his physique. So let’s check out how the Mutant trained his legs in the gym and what message he wanted to convey through this session.
Nick Walker goes through a quad-focused leg workout in the gym
The purpose of the training session was to educate the viewers about the reasons behind having smaller legs. Walker did not overload the weight but maintained a good intensity in the exercises. His message through this workout was simple:
“Just because you stack the entire machine and can do it, doesn’t mean you’re strong and going to grow. Drop the ego!” Walker wrote in the video description.
Lying Leg Curls
Walker started the training session with this hamstring isolation exercise although it was a quad-focused leg day. Leg curls are effective in warming up the knee joints without putting too much stress on them. Since knees are involved in most lower body movements, warming them up is essential for avoiding injuries. As a result, Walker did a few sets of this exercise to get things started.
This served as the first heavy compound exercise of the day. Leg press works all the muscles in the lower body like quads, hamstrings and glutes. Walker started out with a warm-up set using three plates on each side. He applied a progressive overload principle to the working sets and moved on to the next exercise after doing the top set with eight plates on each side.
While this machine exercise has similar benefits as the traditional barbell squat, it varies in a crucial aspect. Barbell squats are a free-weight movement that engages different supporting muscles. However, they can be a little harsh on the lower back. Hack squats remove this drawback and still retain the benefits that you get from a barbell squat. Walker annihilated a few sets of this exercise before taking up a compound bodyweight movement.
This movement served as the finisher of Nick Walker’s leg workout. After pushing through some solid sets with controlled movement, Walker finished the workout but sprinkled a little bit of adductor muscle work before leaving the gym.
Machine Hip Adduction
Hip adductors are a group of muscles on the inner side of the thigh. They are responsible for adduction (bringing together) the legs. The Mutant performed a few sets of this exercise on the machine and called it a day in the gym.
Overall, the workout included:
- Lying Leg Curls
- Leg Press
- Hack Squats
- Walking Lunges
- Hip Adduction Machine
‘Mutant’ gives crucial tips for building huge quads
Walker gave a valuable lesson about leg training during the workout. While concepts like ‘training to failure’, or ‘progressive overload’ come to our mind, Walker’s suggestion is quite different:
“My number one tip that I think will help grow quads, which I think has drastically helped grow mine, is controlling the weight, contracting the muscle as hard as you can, doing some sort of full range of motion. But with that, it’s okay to do partial reps at the end.”
For instance, Walker did two sets with 315 lbs weight on the hack squats. After finishing the second set, he removed two plates from the weight stack and did the lighter set to failure. He employed a partial range of motion and squatted down to a level where his legs were bent at a 90-degree angle, not going all the way down.
“Another one and I think that will help contract the muscle, which in turn will give the muscle a bit of a bigger pump, which in my belief, a bigger pump means bigger muscle. Because now with that bigger pump you’re now gonna go home, feed the nutrients into that direct area where all that blood is and it’s going to grow…” Walker claimed.
The 2021 Arnold Classic winner observed that people usually overload the machines and perform the exercise with poor form and technique. While this can stimulate the muscles to a degree, Walker feels it is never going to produce the results that we hope for.
“You might have a big a**! But your quads didn’t get nothing out of it!” Walker joked.
“So lower the weight, contract the muscle as hard as you can and top trying to ego-lift,” he concluded.
‘You don’t need to use weights on walking lunges’ – Nick Walker explains why
Walker stated that he can contract his muscles really hard doing bodyweight exercises. As a result, his legs were far more pumped after doing lunges than they were after hack squats.
“So again, it’s not about the weight. It’s about control. That’s what grows. If I started with lunges, I might use weights for sure. But towards the end, there is no need for it. Your legs are already fried…”
“In my mind, I could use weight but I don’t really see a need for it, you know. If you’re contracting and training as hard as you are on the other exercises, really shouldn’t feel the need for weight on walking lunges,” Walker stated.
Even if you want to progressively overload, Walker warned that it is not going to help to carry heavy dumbbells on lunges toward the end of the workout.
“You’re not going to feel it and you put yourself at a high risk of injury. It is pointless,” Walker concluded.
Walker listed his learnings about growth and stated that if you know how to control the weight, you will not need high volume. Secondly, training the leg muscles more frequently is extremely beneficial as long as you have a proper way to recover.
Walker gives prep update
Nick Walker gave some important updates about his prep and stated that his weight hasn’t changed too much since starting the 2023 Olympia prep. He is hovering in the 290 to 294 lbs ( kg) territory. The Mutant was hoping to be in the 280 to 285 lbs range. However, he has experienced some noticeable changes in his body composition.
“But overall, things have been going really smooth, really well. Matt’s (Coach Matt Jansen) really happy with how we’re progressing with the training. He’s very happy…” Nick Walker said.
Nick Walker will have a third crack at the Olympia title in November 2023. If he continues to train with the same approach and intensity, he can very well become the next Mr. Olympia.
You can watch the full workout video here, courtesy of Nick Walker’s personal YouTube channel: