How To Build The “Tear Drop” In Your Quads

How To Build The “Tear Drop” In Your Quads

The famous quad tear drop! It is an important piece of a fully developed set of quads and a visible sign that maybe your legs cry on leg day. The tear drop nick name comes from the visible shape of the muscle. The tear drop is properly known as the Vastus Medialis Obliquus (VMO). Many physical therapists will work on the VMO primarily after knee surgery as they point to atrophy and the importance of the VMO in patella tracking. Bodybuilders will most often isolate this muscle with leg extensions where the knee and thigh are rotated out and away from the center in an effort to isolate the VMO.

Can the VMO really be isolated? Studies show that one cannot effectively isolate the VMO since the quadriceps work in unison. There is a false premise believed by some that externally rotating the femur will result in further activation of the VMO. The quadriceps resist external force via neural activation of the muscle group. This means that regardless of the rotation your quadriceps muscles will act as a team to flex the knee. Why is this? The VMO does not have a separate nerve supply.

Just because a muscle or part of a muscle group cannot be isolated does not mean that it cannot be targeted. Certain exercises may recruit more muscle fibers in the VMO than they do for the other muscles of the quads. The takeaway though is to not be so concerned with attempting to isolate one part of a muscle group that it holds back the development of the entire muscle group. Some will argue that bodyweight movements are what is needed to effectively target the VMO, but you won’t be seeing any of those guys on stage in bodybuilding trunks with some sick ass teardrops. Those bodyweight movements may be great for some mobility work or even improving proprioception, but to grow muscle we need to load it up a bit.

Try these tips for better quad development:

Leg Press
  • Lower your foot placement. High feet will target glutes and hamstrings while low foot placement will tear up your quads
  • GET DEEP! Just because this isn’t a squat does not mean you do not get down. Increase your depth and feel the stretch. You will feel your VMO (inner muscle on your quad) working hard as you come out of the hole
  • Keep the tension on your quads by stoping just short of lockout
  • NO REST! Begin the eccentric phase of the movement as soon as you have finished the concentric

Squats
  • Cut your range of motion. Deep squats do wonders for your glutes and hamstrings, but leave something desired for your quads. Try stopping your eccentric motion just at parallel.
  • Do not lock out the knees or even come all the way up! I am not advocating 2 inch squats so be smart about it, but keep the tension on the muscle

Leg Extension
  • Pause at the top of the movement and count to 3. Instead of rotating your toes out and putting undue strain on your knee simply pause at the top and make sure all the fibers in your quads are firing as you squeeze the life out of them
  • As you release on the eccentric phase of the motion control the weight as slow as possible
While the VMO cannot be isolated nothing is holding you back from full quad development. A good set of quads will contribute to healthy pain free knees. Bottom line is that if you want a good set of tear drops on your quads you need to develop the entire muscle group then get lean enough for each part of that muscle group to be visibly separated.

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