Overtraining quads

May 8, 2018



This article is about why, when & how I have “overtrained” my legs in order to dramatically shrink my quads & overhaul the shape/condition of my legs to make my physique more streamlined like the look that is doing well in IFBB Pro Bikini

My Background

To help you understand why I created this training protocol for my legs it helps to know my background.

I started ballet at the age of 3 & have consequently had dominant & muscular quads my whole life. I was also a horserider which I can attribute my dominant hamstrings to. My glutes are my lagging part – growing up I didn’t do any sport or activities that really developed the glutes & so my strengths & weaknesses today in terms of my physique are, much like yours or the next persons, a direct result of all that I have done in my life.

When I begun training to compete I never really focused on my quads with my training because I didn’t want them to grow. Despite not trying to grow them, over time they did naturally develop more muscle mass as an incidence of my other leg/glute training & of course, cardio.

Because my quads were quite muscular my lower body tended to look out of proportion with my upper body. The more I developed my shoulders, back & arms, the less drastic my lower body overpowered my upper, but nevertheless, the “look” that was doing well in bikini was far more streamlined than the athletic shape I had, mostly because of the muscle mass on my legs.

After the 2016 Olympia my feedback was to downsize my quads & many people suggested that I stop training quads altogether. Problem was, I really hadn’t been training them as it was. So, I asked myself what principles I would apply if I wanted to BUILD muscle. I then thought about the opposite – if someone wanted to burn through muscle, what could they do? And if someone was trying to build muscle & struggling, what might they be doing wrong?


Inadequate Fuel & Overtraining

Two things that will dramatically affect your ability to build muscle are being inadequately fuelled during your workout (or in general) & not allowing enough time to recover & therefore grow (i.e. doing too much/overtraining).

So, after the 2016 Bikini Olympia I begun a process of experimenting with this idea that I could shrink my legs by doing the exact opposite of what I would encourage anyone to do if they wanted to build muscle.

Instead of not training my quads at all, I begun training them so often that they were unable to recover – every morning! I also trained them in a fasted state, so that my workouts weren’t fuelled in a way that would encourage growth & repair.


The Protocol

I begun training my quads every morning with a focus on high repetitions/volume. It wasn’t long before any weight at all felt heavy – I was training my quads so often that right from the first rep, they would burn. I got kinda hooked on that feeling & I still love it now!

The protocol I developed involved training high volume quads in the morning on an empty stomach followed by fasted cardio (cardio amounts varied depending how close I was to a show & I did have periods of rest from tis protocol & from cardio in between shows etc.)

The changes that I made in a short period of time by doing this were HUGE. In fact, right after the 2016 Olympia, in the first month of implementing system my stage weight came down 10lb (from 130 to 120).

Those changes that were HUGE in weight to begin with as my quads shrunk almost in half have steadied off but I continue to use this protocol almost all of the time in order to further condition & tighten my legs.


Type of Cardio

Y’all know I am the Stair Master Queen & there are a few reasons for this.

  1. The stairs are HARD. I want my cardio to be tough, I want to get my heart rate way up, get a sweat on & feel like I am working hard.
  2. I suffered from shin splints multiple times as a teenager from a lot of ballet so I really struggle to run as a form of cardio. I cannot run at all on the road outdoors without flaring up my shins & even the impact on the treadmill leaves me with super sore shins if I try to incorporate sprints. Of course, if I was struggling to bring condition, sprints are something tough that I could incorporate but the stair master is a better option for me with the lesser impact.
  3. The bike is another cardio form that isn’t great for me as I find that if I bike with any degree of resistance my quads are inclined to want to grow! The exception is that I will use a bike close to a show with a very light resistance when I am tapering down my cardio & moving away from the stair master.
  4. I find that I can use the stair master without shrinking my glutes even when doing cardio at a high volume.
  5. Climbing on the stair master has added to the overload of my pre-cardio fasted quad training to help make this protocol super effective.


Muscle Mass versus Excess Body Fat

When I share about my quad dominance & need to shrink my legs for my sport I always have a lot of ladies saying that they have the same issue (bigger quads/legs than they want to have).

I think it’s important to distinguish here between having a lot of muscle mass on your legs, versus, having body fat that you want to lose so that you are leaner & your legs are therefore leaner, tighter, smaller.

My fasted legs protocol is designed to combat the former problem – a lot of muscle mass in your quads making your legs look chunky or making you look bottom heavy as your lower body isn’t in proportion to your upper body.

If, on the other hand, you want to really tighten up your legs by losing body fat then this protocol alone isn’t the magic answer – you cannot spot reduce body fat from any area of your body. If you want less fat on your legs, you must look at you caloric input/output (nutrition/cardio) & perhaps the types of foods you/re eating & the balance of your hormones (girl hormones tell us to store fat on our bum, hips & thighs… Because, child bearing! Joy!). Very generally speaking, if you are not doing enough exercise to burn more calories than you consume, or, you’re just eating an excessive amount of calories, you may not be able to lower your body fat, & therefore, you may not be able to “shrink” your legs the way you want to.

SO, before you dive right into starting to train your legs fasted in this way, take a look at your overall routine with both training, cardio & nutrition & be honest with yourself – do you old a lot of muscle in your quads? Or are you just overall a bit cuddlier than you want to be?

If you need to bring your body fat down in order to see the toned & tight physique you are after, I would love to have you join me on my SJF Bikini Body Project 6 week challenge. This challenge gives you all of the information & tools you need on training, cardio, nutrition, supplements, vitamins in order to achieve amazing results. There are new workouts every single week & the nutrition & cardio is tailored to your caloric requirements to ensure you are seeing the fat loss you want to see. Ladies on my 6 Week Challenge check in with me every week & have 24/7 online support with me personally to ensure they stay motivated & on track.

If you want to lose 20lb or more in the next 6 weeks, click here, to check out the SJF Bikini Body Project 6 Week Challenge starting May 7th. Regardless when you join, even if a couple of days late you will have access to the entire 6 weeks of the program.


Maintaining/Developing Glutes Whilst Shrinking Quads

A lot of people ask how I can train like this & still manage to grow my glutes. It’s hard! Of course it’s harder to try to grow one area whilst shrinking the other, but consistency in both efforts has allowed me to find what works to do both.

I have developed a way of training glutes that allows me to target them very effectively whilst using little to no quad recruitment. The best exercises & techniques that I have used to do this form part of my 6 week glute program – SJF Glute Evolution Training System. This program includes new workouts each of the 6 weeks which progress & evolve in order to force development. Also included in the program is a series of glute activation exercises to ensure that you are correctly “recruiting” your glutes in order to make them fire effectively!

The program contains videos of every single exercise including the glute activation exercises as well as an option to purchase an upper body, core, & cardio program to complete your full body training.

To learn more about my Glute Evolution Training System & to download some free examples of the Glute Evolution Workouts click here.

You may also be interested in an article I wrote previously on developing the glute-ham tie-in. To find that click here.


The Fasted Quad Over-Training Workouts

The type of quad exercises I perform within my fasted quad training are very isolated to the quads only. I’m not aiming to hit my glutes/hamstrings at all – just the quads. I always train glutes & hamstrings later in the day after 2-4 meals to ensure, unlike my quad training, that I am adequately fuelled for my glute/hammy sessions.

I have used this protocol for both myself & a number of my clients who have the same quad dominance to dramatically streamline their physiques.

I have uploaded to SJF Tribe membership platform TWO printable fasted leg workouts that are actual workouts I use under this protocol for myself & my clients. (Tribe members click here to view)

To learn more about my membership platform, SJF Tribe – click here.

The platform features exclusive video content/Q&A sessions, printable workouts that I personally used in preparation for my contests from the beginning of the platform in July 2017 till now. There are handfuls of workouts for download & new ones are being added weekly. As part of my membership platform you can join our excusive SJF Tribe Facebook community where you can reach out to me directly in relation to any questions, training, nutrition or otherwise.



I am always weary to share information & ideas like this without ensuring that I make it clear – there is NO one size fits all. You must look at your own unique genetics & circumstances & make judgments as to which parts of this may work for you & which may not. For example, if you find it hard to build muscle then training anything fasted may risk you making it harder to build muscle.

There are many many variables that affect your body composition & you need to really work with someone who has the knowledge to interpret your bodies response to changes in order to help you achieve your goals. For example, if your hormones aren’t well balanced, it can be near impossible to shift body fat from certain areas or to shift body fat at all. Typically, females tend to store body fat on their bum, hips, thighs, triceps & midsection first. Why? Our female sex hormone, oestrogen, tells us to store it there. In some cases, oestrogen can become unbalanced through a number of stress or environmental factors & that can really upset your ability to achieve the results you deserve no matter how hard you work.

I have a lot of clients who have always struggled to lose body fat in those stubborn “female” spots until we incorporated some natural supplements to aid in balancing & detoxifying oestrogen.

If you are serious about changing your body composition dramatically for the LONGTERM (not crash dieting!) I really urge you to reach out to me so that we can take a look at your current training/nutrition & lifestyle & see what things we can/should alter & experiment with in order to achieve your goals.

If you would like to pick my brains on how to get from where you are now, to your goal, please send me an email & tell me a little about your goals. To email me, click here.


Wrapping up

If you want to achieve something you have never achieved, you must do something you have never done before. I developed this fasted leg training protocol to achieve something that I hadn’t been able to achieve through what I had spent the previous two years doing. I knew I needed to think outside the box & try something different & I found a great system for myself, which I now adapt to many of my clients training programming.

My protocol right now, involves hitting one of these fasted quad workouts each morning followed by 60 minutes on the stair master. I do have coffee before I train, but I am fasted in the sense that I don’t consume any real calories till after this fasted session when I get home for my first meal which is typically oatmeal & egg whites/protein powder isolate. Sometimes in a depletion phase, on a sad carb-less day, there are no oats.


I hope you have found this insight into my fasted training routine to be helpful. For some more discussion on this, check out Episode 2 of my current YouTube Series – Use Your Wings.

Click here for YouTube.


Please reach out with any further questions you may have or any suggestions on things that you would like me to write articles on.


Here’s to tighter pins!


Sheena x



You have Successfully Subscribed!