Quads of Steel: 3 Exercises to Work Your Quadriceps

Muscles that make up the Quadriceps

The quadriceps are made up of four muscles:  Rectus Femoris, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Lateralis and Vastus Medialis.

Photo courtesy of www.floota.com

These four muscles assist in basic functions such as walking, running and climbing stairs.  They also help to stabilize the patella (aka the knee).  To make sure you have strong quadriceps, try these three exercises that can be done at home or at the gym.  For beginners, it is recommended to do these exercises without weights as to focus on form first, then add in light weights.  The key to doing these exercises are forum and keeping your balance.

1.  Squat

Photo courtesy of www.womenshealthmag.com

The squat is a great exercise not only to work the quads, but is an excellent lower body exercise to incorporate into any workout routine.  When doing a squat, the main focus will be to focus on form. When performing a squat, you will want to simulate the act of sitting in a chair, and if necessary, until you become familiar with performing a squat correctly, you can use a chair to simulate sitting, just allowing your rear to touch the seat of the chair before coming to a standing position.

Another key form issue is to never let your knees go over your toes when you are in a "seated" position (see B in above photo).  Hyper extending your needs during any type of squat position can, over time, potentially cause knee issues/injuries.

2.  Walking Lunges

Photo courtesy of www.womenshealthmag.com

Walking lunges are another great all over leg and butt workout.  You will want to focus on stepping out with one leg far enough so that your knee does not go over the toes (see A and C in above photo). Also, focus on going as close to the ground as possible with the rear leg.  Depending on your flexibility and strength of the lower body, you may or may not be able to touch the ground with your knee.  This is ok, the most important aspect is to focus on form.

3.  Bulgarian Split Squat

Photo courtesy of www.lifehack.org

The Bulgarian Split Squat may look difficult at first, but can be easily modified for beginners or even those that need to work on balance and core strength.  As shown in the photo above, you can use a workout bench or even a chair to balance one foot on while the other leg will be doing the exercise.  If you do not have enough balance to perform the move, you can use a broom handle, back of chair or weighted bar to help you balance.

As mentioned in the above exercises, you will want to make sure that your "working leg" is out far enough so when you perform the squat, your knee does not go over your toe.

Exercise Routine

As mentioned above, it is recommended for beginners to perform these three exercises without weights.  As you go along and your form is perfected, you can begin to add in weights.  

A sample workout routine featuring these three exercises would be as follows:

Squat:  3 sets; 10-12 reps per set
Walking Lunges:  3 sets; 10-12 reps per leg
Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets; 10-12 reps per leg

When using weights, you can slightly increase the amount of weights for each set so that by the third set, the exercise is challenging, but you are still able to keep your form.

Note to the Ladies

Ladies, please do not worry about bulking up by doing these exercises.  It is not possible to bulk up the legs like you see in muscle building magazines.  However, you will gain some muscle, depending on how hard you push yourself and the amount of weight you add when doing these workouts.  You may even find that your jeans may not fit the same in the legs.  But don't panic.  You are building muscle.  Muscle burns fat longer than just doing cardio.

Another note:  Keep track of your measurements, not the scale.  Losing inches by gaining muscle is always best.  

What is your Favorite?

Now that you know my favorite and best quadriceps exercise to add to your workout routine, what is your favorite exercise that you will try next?

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1 comment

  1. Great tips. I really am hoping to use the coming month to kickstart a fresh take to working out. Hoping these might help!!


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