Jeff Nippard Shares 4 Exercises for Maximum Quad Activation

jeff nippard on reverse Nordics for quad activation
Image via Instagram @jeffnippard

Nippard says the reverse Nordics are more effective than leg extensions for quad activation. 

The quadriceps play a pivotal role in both bodybuilding aesthetics and everyday mobility. These powerhouse muscles contribute to a bodybuilder’s physique and enable the layman to rise from the couch and move with ease. Therefore, prioritizing quad activation via movements like reverse Nordics is critical regardless of your fitness aspirations.

It’s also crucial to train your quadriceps for your overall health. Research has established a correlation between weak quadriceps, knee pain, and certain types of knee osteoarthritis (1). Additionally, your quadriceps are integral to numerous essential exercises and athletic movements. Strengthening them requires engaging in specific exercises that specifically target this muscle group.

Jeff Nippard, the focus of our quad tips, is a Canadian fitness coach, powerlifter, and professional bodybuilder. He earned the coveted title of Mr. Junior Canada in 2012 and has gained popularity on social media for sharing scientifically supported workout routines. Notably, Nippard has achieved extraordinary personal records, including a 336-pound bench press, a 502-pound squat, and a 518-pound deadlift!


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A post shared by Jeff Nippard (@jeffnippard)

Full Name: Jeff Nippard
Weight Height Date of Birth
155-165 lbs 5’5’’ 10/06/1990
Profession Era Nationality
Bodybuilder, Powerlifter 2010s- Till Date Canadian

Jeff Nippard recently revealed four leg exercises that effectively target and strengthen your quads. However, it’s important to note that these intense routines aren’t for the faint-hearted. Let’s explore these exercises and how they contribute to muscle growth.

Jeff Nippard’s Quad Stretching Routines

Here’s the video Nippard uploaded to his YouTube reviewing the four quad exercises for quad activation:

Jeff Nippard does three machine routines and one bodyweight exercise for these four quad activation exercises. For the bodyweight routine, which is the reverse Nordic, he advises you to start with a resistance band for balance. Nippard shares that these four lesser-known routines will give a deep stretch in your quads.

Smith Machine Squats with Long-length Partials
Reverse Nordics
Sissy Squats
Smith Machine Deficit Split Squats

Smith Machine Squats with Long-length Partials

The first quad exercise that Jeff Nippard shares is the Smith machine squat with a twist. While doing them, you must use long-length partials to keep you in the lower half the entire time. Nippard advises that you keep the intensity moderate on your first set of this exercise. 

“Smith machine squats with a twist; do long-length partials on every rep. That means you stay in the bottom half the whole time. These are tough, so don’t go too heavy the first time.”

Smith machine squats target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. However, your quads benefit the most because your leg placement recruits them more to do the knee extension. Doing long-length partials on every rep would place even more emphasis on your quads, constantly putting them under tension. This study shows partial reps effectively induce muscle hypertrophy during resistance training (2)

Reverse Nordics

Jeff Nippard’s next quad exercise is the reverse Nordic. For this routine, Nippard attaches a resistance band to a squat rack and leans back while keeping his thighs straight. He shares that you can switch to bodyweight only when you get more comfortable and used to them.

“Second, reverse Nordics. These let you go much deeper than any leg extension machine will. Loop a band around a squat rack, kneel down, and lean back while keeping your hips straight. Go as low as you comfortably can and squeeze your quads to lift yourself up. Switch to body weight once you’re strong enough.”

Reverse Nordic curls work on all four muscles that make up your quads. This study shows that this exercise stretches your quad muscles, causing them to increase in length (3)

Your glutes also get some work with this exercise. However, you should note that they differ from the Nordic hamstring curl. That variation works on your hamstrings instead of the reverse, which targets your quads. 

Sissy Squats

Jeff Nippard’s third exercise is the sissy squat on the cable machine. To do this, you use a rope attachment on the lowest setting of the cable machine and lean back while coming up on your toes. Nippard shares that this exercise is brutal, so you shouldn’t let the name fool you.

“Third, sissy squats. Don’t let the name fool you, these are hard. Grab a cable for balance, and as you lean back, come up onto your toes and let your knees travel forward. Don’t worry, studies show this won’t hurt your knees, it will make them stronger.”

Sissy squats are great for your quads as they are the prime movers during this routine. However, this exercise also recruits your hip flexors, glutes, and abs. Using a rope attachment on the cable helps with stability so you can focus on your sissy squat form. 

Smith Machine Deficit Split Squats

The last routine for this quad blaster is another Smith machine routine. However, this time, you’ll be doing deficit split squats. This exercise is no walk in the park, and Jeff Nippard suggests saving this for special days. 

“Fourth, Smith machine deficit split squats. Save these for when you have some serious demons to fight.”

Smith machine deficit split squats target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Due to the deficit, you can face each leg specifically, allowing you to build strength and size. During the Smith machine deficit split squat, you can narrow your stance to make the exercise more quad-focused. 

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  1. Segal, N. A., & Glass, N. A. (2011). Is quadriceps muscle weakness a risk factor for incident or progressive knee osteoarthritis?. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 39(4), 44–50. 
  2. Goto, M., Maeda, C., Hirayama, T., Terada, S., Nirengi, S., Kurosawa, Y., Nagano, A., & Hamaoka, T. (2019). Partial Range of Motion Exercise Is Effective for Facilitating Muscle Hypertrophy and Function Through Sustained Intramuscular Hypoxia in Young Trained Men. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 33(5), 1286–1294. 
  3. Alonso-Fernandez, D., Fernandez-Rodriguez, R., & Abalo-Núñez, R. (2019). Changes in rectus femoris architecture induced by the reverse nordic hamstring exercises. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 59(4), 640–647.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.