Shaun Clarida recently tackled an intense quad focused leg workout as a part of his competition prep. The Giant Killer started his prep earlier than most competitors as he looks to defend his 212 Olympia title later this year. This will certainly give him a head start over the competition and contribute positively towards his efforts.
Shaun Clarida is an accomplished professional bodybuilder from the USA. He competes in the 212 division of the IFBB Pro league but has produced some memorable performances in the Men’s Open division as well.
Clarida reached the pinnacle of his profession when he won the 212 Olympia title in 2020. However, he lost the title to Derek Lunsford in 2021. To the surprise of the bodybuilding community, Clarida announced the move up to the Men’s Open division in 2021. The decision was heavily scrutinized as Clarida [5’-2” tall] is significantly shorter than most Open division bodybuilders.
Clarida silenced the doubters by winning his Men’s Open debut at the 2021 Legions Sports Fest Pro. The win earned him a direct invitation to the 2022 Mr. Olympia and Clarida desired to create history by winning both the 212 and Open titles at the show. However, he stayed in his original division and recaptured the 212 Olympia title at 2022 Olympia.
Shaun Clarida started out the 2023 competitive season with an ambitious plan. His goal was to compete in the Men’s Open division at this year’s Olympia if he won the 2023 Arnold Classic. However, he managed to get a fifth-place finish at the show, temporarily foiling the plan to move up. Clarida has plenty of work to do in the 212 division and has now dedicated himself to that.
Shaun Clarida goes through a quad-focused leg workout
Giant Killer’s 2023 Olympia prep started when he was 18 weeks out of the show. He weighed 215 lbs at the beginning of his prep, which is the heaviest off-season weight he has ever reached. Clarida’s goal is to bring a bigger physique and excellent conditioning on the Olympia stage, and feels that hamstrings and chest need the most development.
The 40-year-old’s physique, especially the arms, and shoulders, has looked phenomenal in the physique updates, suggesting that the third 212 Olympia title might head over to Claridas’ residence. Clarida’s current training split comprises two separate leg day workouts. In addition to this quad workout, he has a dedicated session for hamstrings and glutes and performs it on a different day.
In a recent video posted on his YouTube channel, Shaun Clarida went through the quad-focused leg workout. So let’s check out how the champ is getting ready to bring home another Olympia trophy!
Hip Adduction Machine
Clarida initiated the workout by targeting the adductor muscles. Located in the inner thigh region, these are responsible to adduct [bring together] the legs at hip joint along with several other important functions. Clarida explained the reasons for choosing the hip adduction machine as the warm-up movement and said:
“I like to warm up with adductors… One, because it’s an area that I still want to fill in, front shots like the front double biceps… You see that big gap in the middle [of the legs]. I’m trying to avoid that from happening. I want to fill in that gap. And Two, for me, personally, when I warm up with these, it just makes everything around the quads, the hips, everything feels a lot looser and more warmed up before going into regular movements.”
Clarida took his own sweet time to get sufficiently warmed up. After three warm-up sets, he got a couple of feeder sets in and followed up with three working sets on the machine. For the third working set, however, the 212 Olympia champion went extremely heavy and loaded a 45 lbs plate in addition to the full weight stack to challenge the muscles. He moved on to the next exercise only after reaching failure and getting a few more partial reps in.
Seated Leg Curls
Even on a quad-dominant day, Shaun Clarida sneaks in at least one hamstring movement as he feels the need to develop the hamstrings more. Secondly, leg curls are extremely efficient at warming up the knee joints and hamstrings which translates well to other movements in terms of injury prevention and a smooth workout experience.
The hips are flexed during the seated variation of leg curls, which puts the hamstrings in a lengthened/stretched position. This results in the hamstrings working at a longer length, making the exercise slightly more advantageous.
“I’m gonna be a little more deliberate with the leg curls today. When I say deliberate, I’m not just getting into the movement up-and-down, up-and-down at a fast pace. You’re trying to control the negative and the positive… Get really good contraction at the bottom, really squeezing at the bottom. So the weight doesn’t need to be necessarily heavy obviously for that.,” Clarida said.
Clarida performed two warm-up sets on seated leg curls and got a couple of feeder sets in. He then advanced over to the quad exercises for the rest of the training session.
The Giant Killer started the quad work with this isolation exercise. Leg extensions are an excellent exercise to fire up the quads but they get a lot of shade for stressing the knees. However, the rectus femoris head of quadriceps muscles reaches peak contraction only with an isolation exercise like leg extensions. Hence it is essential to incorporate it in the training routine. The risk of knee damage exists only when excessively heavy weights are used for this exercise. So using moderate weights can solve the problem.
A lot of people tend to raise the hips in the concentric phase of leg extensions, which takes the load off the target muscles. Shaun Clarida used a strap to brace himself against the bench. It stopped him from elevating the upper body and forced the quads to do the work uninterrupted.
Clarida wanted to take up belt squats as the first heavy compound movement of his quad session. However, he admitted having realized that the exercise does not give his muscles the necessary stimulus because of his short stature. As a result, he has checked out from trying to get something out of it.
Instead, he performed the pendulum squats next to fire up the quads further and pushed through some heavy sets. For all of his compound exercises, Clarida used knee wraps to protect the knees and mitigate the risk of injuries.
“I want to protect my knees. I’ve got one set of knees. I want to make sure they stay healthy, they stay good,” Clarida explained.
The 40-year-old bodybuilder is a huge admirer of the Cybex squat press machine because of the way it hits the quads. While the alternatives to it are available, Cybex is Clarida’s go-to option. He annihilated some heavy sets of the exercise using ‘cluster’ method.
“Cluster is, do a set [of] as many [reps] as you can. Rack it, then rest for 28 to 30 seconds and then hit it again!” Shaun Clarida explained.
After getting the most out of the squat press, the Giant Killer proceeded to the next one.
Kettlebell Walking Lunges
Shaun Clarida put a cap on the training session by doing kettlebell walking lunges in the end. He pushed covered the menacingly long distance on this one and called it a day in the gym.
Overall, the following are the exercises that made up the whole quad-focused leg workout:
- Hip Adduction Machine – 3 warm-up sets, 2 feeder sets and 3 working sets
- Seated Leg Curls – 2 warm-up sets, 2 feeder sets and 2 working sets
- Leg Extensions – 2 warm-up sets, 2 feeder sets, 3 working sets
- Pendulum Squats – 3 sets [estimate based on the video]
- Cybex Squat Press – Cluster set – 3 sets of 20, 8 and 5 reps
- Kettlebell Walking Lunges
Clarida has 13 more quad workouts left till he hits the 2023 Olympia stage. Which, by default, means that there will be a lot more detail, muscle definition, and size to his already impressive legs. Shaun Clarida aims to break legendary bodybuilder Flex Lewis’s record of seven 212 Olympia title wins. If he continues on this path of commitment and hard work, his dream can very well turn into a reality.
You can watch the full workout video below, courtesy of Shaun Clarida’s personal YouTube channel: