We all wanted to know the best quad exercises for muscle growth and it is one of the most misunderstood gym training area. In this article, we’ll use empirical science to give you the 11 best quad exercises and give you the ones we recommend are best at developing the quad muscles.
Our Selection Criteria:
To select the 11 best quad exercises, we rated each exercise against the following criteria:
- The exercise moves the quadricep’s operating level (the tibia) toward the origin of the muscle.
- The exercise provides a full range of motion.
- The exercise provides alignment of the direction of movement, the direction of resistance, and the origin/insertion of the muscle.
- The exercise provides simple and direct muscle contraction.
- The exercise provides a direction of resistance that is directly opposite the muscle’s origin.
- The exercise provides early phase loading
Ok, with that understanding, let’s give you the best quad exercises . . .
1. Barbell Squats
A great compound exercise working multiple muscle groups.
- Begin by positioning a barbell on a squat rack at about chest height. The barbell should be loaded with an appropriate weight for your fitness level.
- Step under the barbell and position it across your upper back, resting it on your trapezius muscles. Your hands should grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
- Push up with your legs to unrack the barbell from the squat rack. Take a step or two back to clear the rack and find your starting position.
- Initiate the squat by hingng at your hips and knees simultaneously. Lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below. Aim for a full range of motion without sacrificing form.
- Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
Works multiple muscle groups: Squats work several muscle groups at once, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, lower back, and core. This results in overall body strength development.
Functional movement: Squats replicate actions that are utilized in everyday activities like standing, sitting, and lifting objects. You can improve your ability to carry out these practical motions effectively and securely by perfecting the squat technique. Better balance, stability, and coordination are made possible by flexible and strong lower body muscles, which facilitate daily tasks and minimize the chance of injury.
Sets & Reps:
We recommend doing 4-5 sets of squats, with a descending pyramid scheme of 15, 10, 8, and 6 reps.
At the top of the movement, your hips and knees should be fully extended, and you should be standing upright.
Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged throughout the exercise. Maintain a neutral spine and avoid rounding your back.
Read our article on barbell back squats vs barbell front barbell to learn more on which variation is right for you.
Challenges with barbell squat
When you begin to descend by bending your knee, you will begin to load the quads. The more acute the angle of the lower leg, the greater the load on the quads. However, even if you were to do a full ‘ass to the grass’ squat, your lower leg would not even get to a 45-degree angle. In fact, you are lucky if it bends to 30 degrees.
So, what? Well, your lower leg is the operating lever on the quads. So, if it only achieves a 30-degree angle, you are only getting 30 percent of the weight on your back on your quads. So if you are squatting with 300 pounds, your quads are only benefiting from 90 pounds, while the full 300 pounds are compressing down on your spine!
Read our article about how deep you should squat to learn more.
2. Hack Squats
A safer alternative to the barbell squat
- Position yourself on the hack squat machine. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart on the foot platform and your shoulders should be pressed up on the back pad. Grip onto the machine’s side handles. Place your head in a neutral posture and your back against the back pad. Keep your shoulders back, chest high, and core tight.
- Hinge at the hips to descend until your quads are slightly lower than parallel to the ground. In the bottom position, your glutes should be near to the calf muscles and your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees or just a little beyond that.
- Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
Lower Body Strength and Stability: Hack squats are a compound exercise that work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, among other joints and muscle groups. Hack squats increase the stability and strength of the lower body by training these muscles jointly. You may improve your performance in a variety of physical activities by strengthening these muscles, which also helps with balance and general functional fitness.
Safe Squat Alternative: Hack squats can be a safer option than standard barbell squats for people with particular limitations, such back problems. The hack squat machine offers stability and support, lowering the chance of injury.
Set & Reps:
We recommend doing three sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps of the hack squat.
Control the Pace: Hack squats should be controlled during the exercise’s eccentric (lowering) and concentric (raising) parts. To lift the weight, avoid using momentum or bouncing. This lowers the chance of damage while ensuring that the targeted muscles, particularly the quadriceps, are performing efficiently.
Pause at the Bottom: Pause briefly at the bottom of the exercise while your knees are bent at roughly 90 degrees or slightly less before starting the ascent. This pause lengthens the period of time the muscles are under tension, making the exercise more difficult and encouraging the development of muscle mass and strength.
Do Not Round the Lower Back: Rounding the lower back during a movement is a common mistake. As a result, there is a higher chance of damage and undue stress being placed on the lumbar spine. Concentrate on keeping your spine neutral throughout the exercise to prevent this. To stabilize your lower back and keep it in the right alignment, keep your chest up, shoulders back, and core tight.
Foot Placement: If your feet are on the foot platform too high or too low, it will change the mechanics of the workout and reduce its effectiveness. An uncomfortable lower back and severe knee stress may result from having your feet raised too high. You might not be able to go through the entire range of motion if your feet are too low, which would limit the quadriceps’ involvement. Choose a position on the foot platform that enables you to complete the squat with your knees comfortably bent at about 90 degrees or just a little bit more. Adjust the foot platform accordingly to ensure correct alignment and range of motion.
Challenges with Hack Squat
The big problem with the hack squat (or the leg press and most other versions of the squat including goblet squats, the Bulgarian split squat), is that the lower leg still does not bend to more than 30 degrees. As a result, your quads are only getting a 30 percent load. There is no doubt that hack squats are hard work. Unfortunately, if your goal is to build quad muscle, 70 percent of that effort is being wasted.
3. Leg Extension
Most people consider the leg extension to be an add-on ‘isolation’ exercise to be thrown in for a couple of sets after the main work of squatting is done. The truth is that the leg extension is the single best exercise that you can do to build muscle in your quadriceps.
- Setting up the machine correctly is essential before beginning the leg extension exercise. Adjust the foot pad to align the pivot with your knees. Angle the seat back as far as possible to more fully activate the quads.
- Sit on the seat and place your feet under the foot pads.
- Lift your lower legs, stopping 10% short of full lockout.
- Lower to 10% short of bottoming out. Continue performing your reps through the middle 80% of the range of motion.
Remember how we compared the quads to the triceps at the outset. Now, when it comes to the triceps, the lying triceps extension, otherwise known as skull crushers, is regarded by all as a primary mass builder of the triceps. Well, the leg extension is the exact same movement for the quadriceps. The fact that the skull crusher is not a compound movement does not cause it to be dismissed as a lesser exercise. So, why should we think that way about the leg extension?
The leg extension does exactly what the quadriceps are designed to do – it extends the lower leg. Whereas, as we’ve seen, the squat does this to, at best, 30 degrees, the leg extension does it to 90 degrees. Furthermore, the leg extension does not activate the glutes or the hamstrings, so there is no reciprocal innervation to shut down any of the working muscles.
The leg extension is the only exercise you need to do in order to develop your quads. By performing as many as thirteen sets through a complete rep range, you can maximally stimulate your quadriceps without wasting any effort and compromising the integrity of your spine.
Sets & Reps:
Here is the leg extension set and rep range that I recommend:
Set One: 50 reps
Set Two: 30 reps
Set Three: 20 reps
Set Four: 15 reps
Set Five: 10 reps
Set Six: 10 reps
Set Seven: 8 reps
Set Eight: 8 reps
Set Nine: 6 reps
Set Ten: 6 reps
Set Eleven: 4 reps
Set Twelve: 4 reps
Set Thirteen: 50 reps.
Perform this workout every five days, increasing your weight on every rep increase, and you will experience your quads firing like nothing you have ever known
Do not lean forward: Keep your back against the seat throughout the entire movement.
Don’t Use Too Much Weight: It’s critical to select a weight that enables good form and control during the exercise. Feel the tension in your quadriceps throughout the action as you concentrate on the mind-muscle connection.
Avoid Using Momentum: Some people prefer to swing their legs or use momentum to lift the weight rather than using their quadriceps to carry out the activity. This lessens the exercise’s effectiveness and places undue stress on the knee joint. Leg extensions should be done slowly and deliberately throughout both the raising and lowering stages to prevent swinging.
4. Cable Squat
The cable squat is a variation on the standard squat that uses a cable machine for resistance instead of free weights. Compared to other squat variations, this exercise effectively targets the lower body muscles while lowering lower back compression.
The cable pulleys are set at a low angle, so that the cable is at a diagonal angle. This provides a direction of movement whether the tibia (lower leg) is more perpendicular than when you’re doing a regular barbell squat. This increases the load on the quadriceps, providing it with nearly 100% of the resistance. That means that you don’t have to use as much weight as when doing barbell squats. You’ll be achieving a greater load with less resistance, while getting virtually no compression on the spine. All of that makes the cable squat an excellent quad exercise.
- Set the pulleys on a double weight stack cable machine at their lowest settings.
- Stand about three feet away from the machine, facing it. I recommend using a slant board or other elevated platform to raise your heels. This will direct more effort toward your quads. Your palms should be facing inward as you hold the cable handles put in front of you.
- Lean back as you descend until your quads are parallel to the floor.
- Pause briefly in the bottom position before pushing through your heels to return to the start position.
Quad focused: The cable squat is a fantastic lower-body workout because it works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Yet, places nearly all of its resistance squarely on your quads, making it a very efficient thigh developer.
Reduced Lower Back Compression: The cable squat puts less compressive strain on the lower back than standard barbell squats or heavy weighted squats do. People who want to reduce lumbar tension or have lower back problems may find this helpful.
Enhanced Core Stability: The cable resistance puts your core muscles through a stabilizing struggle as you move, which helps to strengthen and balance your core.
Sets and Reps:
Use a pyramid set and rep scheme where you start with 30 reps, then increase the weight and do 20, 15, 10 and 6 reps.
The cable squat is a versatile exercise that lets you control the resistance throughout the range of motion. Focus on keeping perfect form throughout the exercise and avoid curving your back or letting your knees collapse inward to maximize the benefits and reduce lower back discomfort.
5. 45-Degree Leg Press
The Leg Press is a great exercise to target the quad muscles while being joint friendly
- Sit back against the backrest of the leg press machine while placing your feet on the foot platform shoulder-width apart and toes pointing outward.
- Release the safety grips and gradually lower the weight until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
- Push through your heels to extend your legs entirely without locking them in the top position,
- Maintain consistent tension in the leg muscles as you lower the weight while bringing your knees back to the beginning position.
Strength in the quadriceps: The 45-degree leg press mainly works the quadriceps, which contributes to the development of the front thighs’ strength and size. Leg presses also activate the hamstrings and glutes, which help to build the entire lower body even if the quads are the primary focus.
Joint-Friendly: The leg press is a complex exercise that puts less strain on the lower back and spine, making it a suitable choice for people with lower back problems or limited mobility. The leg press reduces the risk of damage compared to free-weight squats because it uses a machine with a guided track.
For more benefits read out article leg press benefits.
Sets & Reps:
Your training objectives and level of experience may affect the amount of sets and reps. Three to five sets of eight to twelve repetitions each are a typical leg press routine.
Changing your foot placement will focus on different muscle groups. To learn more read our article leg press variations.
Warm up: To improve blood flow to your muscles and joints and prepare them for heavier leg press sets, warm-up before doing this exercise.
Use a full ROM: Aim for a full range of motion, making sure your knees are bent at around 90 degrees or slightly less at the bottom of the action.
Controlled Movements: Keep the weight under control throughout the workout to reduce the danger of damage. Proper form involves avoiding locking your knees at the apex of the action and keeping your back and head firmly against the backrest at all times.
Read our article leg press form tips to learn more great tips.
Challenges with 45-Degree Leg Press
The 45-degree angle of the machine that you sit on dictates the direction of resistance (45 degrees). That’s not good because it means that the lower leg which is the lever of the quadriceps) is only minimally active. So, to sufficiently challenge the quads, you are going to need to use a lot more weight than you would on a more efficient exercise.
The increase in weight will put enormous stress on the knee, ankle, hip joints and result in short range of motion. Furthermore, you will also find it virtually impossible to maintain the ideal neutral spine position when you are performing the leg press on a 45-degree leg press machine. There is an inherent rounding that takes place. That is bad news for your lumbar spine.
The maybe interested in are article Can Leg Press Replace Squats
6. Sissy Squats
A great bodyweight exercise for the quad muscles with no compression on the spine, which has been used by many bodybuilders.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and you, with a straight line from your head to your knees. arms out extended directly out in front of your body. You may prefer to hold onto an upright support for stability, such as a power rack frame.
- Lean back as you transfer your weight to your heels. Maintaining a tight core
- Put your weight back on your heels and lean back slightly, keeping your abs tight and keeping a straight line from your head to your knees.
- Bend your knees to descend to the floor, allowing your knees to track over your toes. Go down as low as you can. Your heels will come off the floor in the bottom position.
- Push through your heels to return to a standing position.
Quad Strength: Despite only using your body weight, the sissy squat places tremendous tension on the quadriceps. It is an excellent exercise to develop strength and muscle in the thighs.
Lower Body Muscle Activation: In addition to the quads, the sissy squat also works the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Core Stability: The bodyweight sissy squat challenges your body stability, helping to balance and strengthen your core.
No Additional Equipment Required: This exercise can be done without the need of any extra apparatus, making it available to people without access to a gym or weightlifting machines.
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 12-15 reps of the sissy squat.
Beginners should be aware that the sissy squat is an advanced exercise that calls for solid knee and ankle stability. Avoid this workout if you’re a beginner, have knee problems, or go to a physical therapist or other healthcare provider.
To avoid injury, perform the exercise slowly and deliberately. Don’t jerk or rush through the squat.
Maintaining your center of gravity and maintaining your body in alignment will help you stay balanced and stable throughout the action. In order to improve balance, you might try doing the sissy squat in front of a solid object or wall.
Read our article if you want to know the best sissy squat machines.
Challenges with Sissy Squats
The sissy squat fell out of favor because people thought that it placed too much stress on the knees. This was based on the erroneous belief that if your knees tracked over your toes, this would lead to shearing of the knee joint. That all changed when a guy named Ben Patrick called himself the ‘knees over toes guy’ and began setting the record straight – knees over toes is not bad for your knees; it’s great for your quads!
You may want to try air squats, please rad our article air squat benefits for more detail.
7. Step Ups
Step-ups are one of the best functional quad exercises, which can be perform by people of all abilities since the height of the step or platform can be changed to accommodate your level of fitness.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart facing a sturdy bench, box, or step.
- With your right foot, step onto the platform, making sure your full foot is firmly placed there.
- Push through your right heel to raise your body up onto the platform, leading with the left foot.
- Follow through to bring your right foot onto the platform.
- Reverse the movement to step back down, leading with your left foot.
Functional: Step-ups are a practical exercise that helps enhance daily activities because they mirror commonplace actions like ascending stairs.
Unilateral Training: Step-ups include each leg separately, which helps to correct any imbalances in strength and muscular growth between the left and right legs.
Core Stability: Step-ups require core stabilization to maintain balance throughout the exercise, which helps to strengthen and stabilize the core.
Cardiovascular Benefits: Step-ups can increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health when performed dynamically with more repetitions or as part of a circuit.
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 30-second steps on each leg
Focus on Form: Maintain good form throughout the entire exercise, maintaining a raised chest, tight core, and straight back throughout each step-up.
Use Controlled Movements: Complete the step-ups deliberately and controlled. During the movement, avoid using momentum or swinging your body.
Select the Right Platform Height: Begin at a lower platform and progressively work your way up as you gain comfort and confidence in your abilities.
Alternate Legs: To promote balanced development, either execute an equal number of reps on each leg, or alternate the leading leg with each repetition.
Add Resistance: Step-ups can be made harder by holding dumbbells or kettlebells in your hands.
8. Goblet Squats
The goblet squat is a variation of the standard barbell squat that has you holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest. Holding the weight near to your chest necessitates more core stabilization, which improves your balance and general core strength. It is also one of the best quad exercises that is lower back friendly.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly out. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands at chest level.
- Maintaining a neutral spine and upright torso, hinge at the hips to lower into a squat. Try to go slightly lower than parallel.
- Push through your heels to return to the start position.
Core Stabilization: You must engage your core to keep your balance and stability while holding the weight close to your chest. This increases functional fitness overall and core strength.
Improved Squat Form: Because the weight acts as a counterbalance, encouraging better alignment and limiting excessive forward lean, goblet squats can aid in improving squat form and depth.
Lower back-friendly: Goblet squats are typically seen to be lower back-friendly than standard back squats, making them a good choice for people with lower back problems.
Accessibility: Goblet squats are accessible to people of different fitness levels because they are reasonably simple to master and can be executed with little equipment.
Read our article dumbbell goblet squat benefits for more detail.
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps of the goblet squat.
Focus on Form: For safety and effectiveness, proper form is essential. Keep your core tight, shoulders back, and chest up throughout the entire action.
Foot Positioning: Place your feet shoulder-width apart or somewhat wider to preserve balance and stability.
Depth: To completely use your quadriceps and lower body muscles, aim to squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground or just below.
Breathing: Take regular, natural breaths while performing the exercise, exhaling as you lift your arms and inhaling as you lower them. Start with a Light Weight: To learn how to perform goblet squats, start with a light weight. As you get more comfortable, you can progressively increase the resistance.
Warm-up: To boost blood flow and get your body ready for exercise, warm up your muscles with dynamic movements before beginning your goblet squat practice.
Variation: To provide variety and challenge your muscles, think about introducing several variants, such as pace changes, pauses, or single-leg goblet squats.
Controlled Movement: To maintain appropriate form, perform the squats with controlled movements. Avoid using momentum or swinging the weight.
Lunges are one of the best quad exercises that can be done with either bodyweight or added resistance, such as dumbbells or barbells. Lunges are a good workout for developing strength and muscle in the front of the thighs since they concentrate largely on the quadriceps. They also activate the glutes and hamstrings, which results in the development of the entire lower body.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Take a step forward with one foot, keeping your upper body upright.
- Lower your body down by bending both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and your back knee hovers just above the ground.
- Push through your front heel to return to the starting position.
- Complete the desired number of repetitions on one leg before switching to the other leg.
Quad development: Lunges are among the best exercises for focusing on and developing the quadriceps, which are necessary for motions like walking, running, and jumping.
Glutes and Hamstring Activation: Lunges also activate the glutes and hamstrings, which helps the lower body’s general balance and muscle growth.
Unilateral Training: Lunges are performed one leg at a time, which helps resolve any strength discrepancies between the left and right legs and encourages more evenly distributed lower body strength.
Core Stability: Maintaining balance and appropriate form during lunges requires core stabilization, which increases core strength and functional stability.
Functional Movement: Lunges are a functional exercise with benefits for daily tasks since they imitate common actions like walking and climbing stairs.
Versatility: Lunges come in a variety of varieties to target different muscle groups and make workouts interesting (forwards lunges, reverse lunges, walking lunges, lateral lunges, etc.).
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 12 reps of lunges.
Controlled Movement: To lessen the danger of damage, lunges should be executed slowly and deliberately.
Positioning of the Feet: Make sure that both of your feet are securely planted on the ground and that your front and rear feet are equally bearing your weight.
Range of Motion: To fully engage your quadriceps and lower body muscles, aim to descend down until your front thigh is parallel to the ground or just below.
Step backward: To target different muscle fibers and maintain balanced muscle development, do both forwards and reverse lunges in your exercise.
10. Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian split squat, which is a version of the standard split squat, place a lot of emphasis on the quad muscles. This is one of the best quad exercises to assist in correcting any strength imbalances between the left and right legs, creating more balanced lower body strength.
- Stand facing away from a bench or platform with one foot elevated on it, and the other foot positioned a step or two forward.
- Lower yourself until your front thigh is parallel to the ground or slightly below, and your back knee hovers just above the ground.
- Push through your front heel to return to the starting position.
- Complete the desired number of repetitions on one leg before switching to the other leg.
Quadriceps Isolation: Bulgarian split squats are useful for developing strength and muscle in the front of the thighs since they isolate and strengthen the quadriceps.
Unilateral Training: Bulgarian split squats are a single-leg exercise that can help correct any strength discrepancies between the left and right legs, improving the stability and symmetry of the lower body as a whole. In addition to the quadriceps, Glute and Hamstring Activation: Bulgarian split squats also activate the glutes and hamstrings, which promotes the development of all the lower body muscles.
Core Stabilization: The exercise forces you to balance on one leg, which activates and stabilizes your core, improving core strength and functional stability. Bulgarian split squats can help in improving ankle mobility, which is necessary for good form in many lower body exercises.
Lower Back-Friendly: Bulgarian split squats put less compressive force on the spine than some other heavy barbell squat variations, making them a good choice for anyone with lower back problems.
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 12 reps of Bulgarian Split Squats.
Focus on Form: Always maintain good form when doing the exercise. Keep your core tight, your shoulders back, and your chest high.
Foot Positioning: Make sure your back foot is elevated on a bench or platform behind you and that your front foot is placed far enough forwards to establish a secure basis.
Depth: To completely work your quadriceps and lower body muscles, lower yourself till your front thigh is parallel to the ground or just below.
Balance and Stability: If you’re new to the exercise, concentrate on a gradual, controlled movement to build balance and stability.
Progression: Begin with your own weight or small dumbbells, then add weight as you become more adept at the technique. Foot Stability: Keep the ball and heel of your front foot firmly planted on the ground while equally dispersing your weight.
11. Trap Bar Deadlift (Heels Elevated)
Elevating the heels during the trap bar deadlift causes the quadriceps to receive more attention, making this form of the exercise more quad-dominant. Changing the movement’s mechanics increases the demand placed on the quadriceps to extend the knee joint. The exercise involves standing inside of a hexagonally shaped frame bar and holding it at arm’s length. You then perform a deadlift/squat movement.
For people with limited ankle dorsiflexion, this version may also aid to increase ankle mobility.
- Stand in the center of the trap bar with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. You should have your heels on a slant board.
- Hinge at the hips and knees to grip the handles of the trap bar.
- Maintain a neutral spine and brace your core.
- Lift the bar by extending your hips and knees, driving through your heels.
- Lower the bar back to the ground under control, ensuring proper form throughout the movement.
Quad focus: Elevating the heels causes the quadriceps to receive more attention, making it an efficient exercise for targeting and fortifying the front of the thighs.
Quad Strength and Hypertrophy: This variation’s increased emphasis on the quadriceps may result in enhanced quad strength and muscle development.
Lower Body Activation: Although the heel elevated trap bar deadlift primarily targets the quadriceps, it also activates the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, giving the lower body a well-rounded workout.
Improved Ankle Mobility: Elevating the heels can aid in increasing ankle dorsiflexion, which makes this version advantageous for people with restricted ankle mobility.
Lower Back-Friendly: Compared to traditional deadlifts, the trap bar deadlift naturally puts less strain on the lower back. While still delivering a beneficial lower body exercise, elevating the heels might further lessen lower back stress.
Sets & Reps
We recommend doing three sets of 12,10, and 8 reps of the trap bar deadlift.
Focus on form: Always maintain good form when doing the activity. Maintain a straight back, an elevated chest, and a tight core.
Graduate Heel Elevation: Start with a moderate elevation of your heels by placing weight plates or blocks under them. You can change the height as you get more accustomed to the movement to suit your comfort and mobility.
Toe Positioning: Position your feet with your toes pointing slightly outward and at least shoulder-width apart.
Brace Your Core: As you lift the object, contract your core muscles to protect your lower back and stabilize your spine.
Controlled Movement: When performing the heel-elevated trap bar deadlift, make sure to move slowly and deliberately.
Warm-up: Warm up your muscles with dynamic movements before beginning your deadlift to boost blood flow and get your body ready for activity,
Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight as you get better at the workout to continue pushing your muscles. Read our article how to squat more weight to learn more.
Quadriceps Anatomy & Function
The quadriceps is a group of four muscles in the front of the upper leg:
- Rectus Femoris: This muscle originates on the hip bone and runs down the mid-thigh to insert at the top of the tibia (shin bone).
- Vastus Lateralis: The vastus lateralis originates on the lateral side of the thigh and runs down the thigh bone to insert into the patella (kneecap). It is the largest of the four quadriceps muscles.
- Vastus Medialis: This muscle is found on the inside of the thigh. It originates on the upper femur and inserts into the patella.
- Vastus Intermedius: The vastus intermedius originates on the femur, is located between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis, deep to the rectus femoris.
The primary job of the quadriceps is to straighten the knee. When you contract the quad muscle, the knee joint will extend. This action is required for walking, running, and standing up.
If your knees crack or pop when you squat read our article Why do my knees crack when I squat to learn more.
FAQs about Quad Exercises
What is the number 1 Quad exercise ?
The number one quad exercise is the leg extension. This exercise meets all the criteria for an effective exercise, including fully activating the target muscle, exercising it through a full range of motion, and aligning the direction of movement, the direction of resistance, and the origin/insertion of the muscle.
How do you hit all 4 quad muscles ?
When you do an exercise that moves the quads through their full range of functional movement, you will engage all four of the muscles that make up the quadriceps. The leg extension is the best exercise to do that.
How can I build my quads fast ?
Train your quads twice per week, using the three exercises we have rated as the best:
- Leg Extensions
- Cable Squats
- Sissy Squats
Use a rep range from a high of 30 to a low of 6 on the leg extensions over 7-8 sets. Then go directly to cable squats and do five sets of 15, 12, 10, 8, and 6 reps, increasing the weight on each set. Finish with four sets of sissy squats, doing 12-15 reps on each set.
How many sets of quads a week ?
You should train your quads twice per week, with a 72-hour gap between workouts ( i.e. Monday and Thursday). Do a total of 16 sets per workout, divided between three exercises.
Best Quad Exercises Conclusion
You now have the best 11 quad exercises for your workout if your are a beginner or experienced for you to do at home or the gym.