A cannonball squat is an excellent quad-building exercise. This movement isolates the front of your legs to support your weight while you squat down, and it demands that your quads lift all that weight back up without assistance from any other muscle groups. These squats can be quite brutal and challenging, especially when done with bodyweight only.
As you can imagine, the cannonball squat is not for those with bad knees. If you’re struggling with knee pain, it may be wise to consider a different leg-focused workout like the traditional hack squat, which involves a wider stance and less extreme knee flexion. Another good alternative is a leg press, which also targets the quads but can be easier on the knees.
If you do choose to do a cannonball squat, be sure to include a proper warm-up that includes movements like lunges and bodyweight squats. Sets, reps, and rest intervals should be dictated by your personal fitness goals and level of training experience.
Once you’ve mastered bodyweight cannonball squats, you can increase the challenge by adding a barbell across your shoulders. The basic idea is the same, but it requires more balance to lift the weight. It’s a great option for those who are more advanced in their leg resistance training and want to increase the amount of leg mass they build quickly. However, if you get too comfortable with the weighted version, it will be difficult to continue gaining muscle mass at a rate that’s faster than the basic bodyweight cannonball squat.