Tom Venuto's

“The Quad Hobbler” (Leg training that will make you limp!)

Tom Venuto

August 17th, 2005. Remember that 1990 movie with James Caan called Misery? If you saw it, how could you forget “that scene?” I won’t spoil it in case someone reading this hasn’t seen the movie, but basically it’s a Steven King thriller where a certain “psycho lady” does something very painful to James Caan so that he can’t walk normally afterwards (she called it “Hobbling”). Since I couldn’t walk normally for days after THIS workout, I decided to call it the “Quad Hobbler.”


A1 Leg Extension
2 warm up sets
Set 1: 260 lbs (stack) X 22 reps, drop to 220 lbs X 10 more reps, drop to 160 X 10 more reps (42
reps total)
Set 2: 200 lbs X 6 reps, 220 lbs X 6 reps, 240 lbs X 6 reps (ascending set)
Set 3: 180 lbs 7 reps bottom half, 7 reps top half, 7 reps full range (21’s)
A2 Dumbbell Static lunge off step
Set 1: 40 lb dumbbells X 13 reps per leg
Set 2: 40 lb dumbbells X 12 reps per leg
Set 3: 40 lb Dumbbells X 11, 10 reps per leg, then 24 reps alternating left leg, right leg, left leg, etc) 12 reps with each leg
B1 Leg press
Set 1: 630 lbs X 20 reps feet high, shoulder width
Set 2: 540 lbs X 17 reps feet low, narrow/together
Set 3: 450 lbs X 15 reps Feet middle, wide, toes out
Set 4: 540 lbs X 10 reps, feet high shoulder width, strip one plate to 450 lbs X 12 reps, feet
low and together, strip another plate to 360 lbs X feet wide middle of platform X 15 reps (drop set with foot position change & ascending rep pattern)
C1 Hack Squat
Set 1: 270 lbs (3 plates per side) X 20 reps (13 nonstop, then 7 with rest pause)
Set 2: 320 lbs (3 plates + quarters per side) X 12 reps


A1 Dumbbell semi-Stiff Legged Deadlift
2 warm up sets
Set 1: 70 lbs X 20 reps
Set 2: 75 lbs X 15 reps
Set 3: 80 lbs X 13 reps
Set 4: 40 lbs X 15 reps, locked knees, flat back, butt out (strict straight leg dead)
B1 Lying Leg Curl
3 sets X 130, 120, 100 lbs X 12 reps X 5021 tempo
B2 45 degree hyperextension
3 sets X 12 reps, strict, hands behind head, squeeze at top 4032 tempo


A1 Standing calf machine
3 sets X 260 lbs X 35, 32, 30 reps
B1 Seated Calf Machine (Bodymaster machine)
3 sets X 205 lbs (2 plates + quarters) X 30, 30, 27 reps
C3 Cybex Rotary Calf Press
3 sets X 205 lbs X 35, 31, 28 reps

Workout Commentary

In my previous blogs, I already listed the leg extension to dumbbell static split squat off a step superset as one of my 5-star workouts. I come back to certain exercise combinations all the time and this is one of them. But today, I took it to an even higher level.

I started with leg extensions: 22 good reps with the 260 lb stack on the Icarian Leg extension, followed quickly by a reduction in weight to 220 lbs for another 10 reps, followed by another reduction in weight to 160 lbs for another 10 reps (triple drop set). That’s 42 reps total on the leg extension with no rest except the time it took to pull the pin and change the weight.

Then, with NO REST, I hobbled over to the Reebok step I had set up conveniently about a yard away from the leg extension machine, picked up the 40 lb dumbbells and proceeded to bang out 13 reps in static lunges (also called split squats). The form is important on these. To target the quads and Rectus Femoris properly, you must keep your torso vertical. Any time I’ve had a training partner attempt this with me (especially after the pre-exhaustion), they always tend to lean forward, which throws the stress onto the glutes and low back and makes it MUCH easier on the quads (cheating!) Standing up straight/totally vertical torso is a must.

That was the first of three pre-exhaustion supersets between leg extension and dumbbell static lunges.

I rested about 90 seconds and started set two: Ascending Set. I did 200 lbs for 6 reps only (which was easy), then immediately set the pin at 220 lbs and did six more (no problem, but a lot harder), then went heavier to 240 lbs for six more reps (the last two or three damn near killed me). Only 18 reps total (6+6+6) this time, but it felt every bit as hard as the first set.

Then, with NO REST, once again, it was back over to the step and 12 reps with each leg holding the 40 lb dumbbells. All of the static lunges were done left leg first then right leg. Also, the reps were full, all the way down til the back knee almost touched the floor, and back up only 3/4 and right back down (continuous tension).

That was set two of the pre-exhaust supersets.

After about two minutes rest, I hopped back on the leg extension for a set of 21’s with 180 lbs: 7 reps bottom half of the range of motion, 7 reps top half of the range of motion, and then 7 reps full range (21 reps total).

Then once again, with no rest I HOBBLED over to my 40 lbs dumbbells picked them up and did 12 reps of static lunges with the left leg, then 12 reps with the right leg, and THEN… (here’s where it got interesting), I kept going alternating left leg, right leg, for 24 more reps, 12 reps with each leg.

That was it… For the first exercise. A lot of people could have ended the entire session right there and been finished (literally and figuratively), but for me it was on to the leg press.

I used the Icarian 45 degree plate load leg press today and worked it differently than in any of my previously blogged leg workouts. My first set was the foot position I had been using most often in recent workouts: shoulder width, feel high on the platform with 630 lbs (7 plates per side). This was lighter than usual, but after the extensions/lunges I did just minutes before this leg press set, 630 lbs felt like a thousand! I barely squeezed out 20 reps and they were a tough 20. I thought I was finished at 12, but somehow got 8 more with short pauses between reps.

For the two sets that followed, I reduced the weight and changed my foot position: feet low and together on the platform for set two, and wide (toes out) and in the middle of the platform for set three (with full range, legs almost to the sides of the body). On the final set I did a drop set with foot position change: 540 lbs X 10 reps, feet high shoulder width, strip one plate to 450 lbs X 12 reps, feet low and together, strip another plate to 360 lbs X feet wide middle of platform X 15 reps.

My quads were screaming bloody murder at this point, but I hobbled over to the hack machine for two final sets: one set at 270 lbs for 20 reps and one set at 320 lbs for 12 reps.

That was it… my legs were destroyed. I hobbled home, ate, and crashed for a nap. I came back about 6 hours later for hams and calves.

I began the hamstring session with a great exercise I haven’t done in a while; dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts. I used only moderate weights (70-80 lb dumbbells) since I hadn’t done these in a while. It was fairly easy; 12-20 reps with very strict and slow form was no problem. On the last set I did straight leg deadlifts with only 40 lbs. Normally when I do so called “stiff legged” deadlifts, my knees stay slightly bent. Some people call these “Romanian deadlifts”. I guess if I called them semi-stiff leg deadlifts it would be more descriptive and accurate. You can go fairly heavy on these.

A true stiff legged deadlift (locked knees) requires much lighter weights, and much more attention to form. You also won’t be able to lower the bar/dumbbells as far unless you are hyper flexible. Most people will finish the rep between mid shin and just under the knee. The back must be kept totally neutral (flat or slightly arched), your head is up, your butt sticking out. Flexing/rounding the back with straight legs can injure your low back. Performed properly however, light-weight straight leg deads really hit the hamstrings hard - much more so than the semi-stiff leg deads which also strongly work the lower and even upper back.

Next it was a pre-exhaust superset of lying leg curls to hyperextensions. This time I did the hypers on a 45 degree bench, focusing on extension in the hip to target glutes and hams and not as much lower back.

After hams, it was onward to three exercises for calves, three sets each, going for high reps today (about 30 reps per set).

By this point, it was less than 8 hours after my late morning quad session and I could already feel them starting to get sore. Usually you get delayed onset muscle soreness at least 24 after a workout. My quads were so sore within 12 hours after this workout they felt like they were bruised (you know, like “Charlie horse”/”knee rammed into your thigh paying rugby type of bruised). It’s all worth it though, because I’m telling you, I could see an improvement in my quads after that one workout.

So there you have it… “The Quad Hobbler.”

Published on 17 August, 2005


Sarah said:

Ugh, sounds like murder. Leg extensions, if you're talking about the ones I'm thinking about (sitting on the machine, feet hooked under a pad and you lift from your knees), 260 lbs ..that's nuts. I myself haven't squatted for a while due to a knee injury. Those one legged split squats off the bench are glute ANNHILATORS.

I know how you feel about the not-so-delayed onset muscle soreness. I got roped into doing this long run (12 miles), which was 3x more than I'd ever done before, and I was nearly unable to walk just 7 hours later. I thought the arches of my feet would break.

Keep up the super work!

Posted on Aug 23, 2005 05:11 AM

Thad said:

Damn bro, this was one killer leg workout. By the time I hit the hack squats I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish off the hamstring work. I was able to make it, but I had to drop the weight in order to finish the workout.

Posted on Aug 30, 2005 01:48 AM

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