Having a well-developed quad is an indicator of the athletic ability of a person. It signifies that a person is capable of doing athletic movements that require functions from the lower body. A well conditioned and developed quad also makes the delivery of daily task such as climbing stairs and lifting objects easy for a person. This article will talk about the best exercises that will improve the strength and power that come from your quads to help you perform better in your next strength and conditioning class.
What Is The Quad?
The quadriceps femoris, typically known as the quads, is a set of muscles in the front of the thigh. It is one of the largest muscles in the body whose function is to stabilize and straighten the knee joint. The quadriceps is composed of four muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis, where each of the vastus muscles starts from the femur bone and is attached to the kneecap.
The rectus femoris is the muscle that mainly helps with hip flexion. Vastus intermedius is used for knee extension and stabilizes the patella (the small bone in front of the knee). Vastus lateralis is the muscle that connects the thigh bone to the kneecap and is responsible for the same actions as the vastus intermedius. The vastus medialis is used for knee extension and to stabilize the kneecap.
Build Your Quad Strength With These Exercises
Incorporating the following exercises into your program will undoubtedly increase the strength of your quads when done correctly. Aside from the strength that you will gain, performing the following exercises regularly will help you build a stronger, lower body in general, which builds stronger tendons, ligaments, and bone density that will help prevent injuries in the long run. Below are the 10 best quad exercises to build strength.
1) Front Squat
The front squat is a quad-dominant type of squat used by many athletes in their programs, especially weight lifters. It is performed by placing the barbell in front of your shoulders, as opposed to the traditional barbell back squat, while keeping your chest up and the spine neutral.
Front squat requires shoulder mobility, so it is advised to perform shoulder mobility exercises to properly warm the shoulder up to prevent elbow and shoulder pain before attempting this exercise.
2) Barbell Back Squat
The barbell back squat is one of the classic ways to build leg strength. Although the bar’s positioning will depend on the structure of our bodies (as some people are born with longer femurs, making them more comfortable with the low bar), the high bar back squat is considered the better variation to target the quads.
3) Walking Lunges
The walking lunges are a dynamic movement and a great exercise to strengthen the quads. This can be done with any type of free weights or even just with bodyweight to begin with. You can perform these lunges by either a racking barbell on your back or holding a dumbbell/kettlebell in each hand.
Sprinting, when done correctly, is an effective way to strengthen the quad and build your cardiovascular endurance. It is one of the oldest exercises known to strengthen the leg muscles. Sprinting can be performed on most flat surfaces, but it is more effective when performed on an incline. Keep in mind to stretch and warm up before this exercise to avoid injuries.
5) Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat is a variation of the single-leg squat which greatly targets the quads. This exercise is performed with your back leg placed on an elevated surface or a bench while squatting with the lead leg. It can be done with your bodyweight or any type of free weight to add more difficulty.
6) Pistol Squat
Like the Bulgarian split squat, the pistol squat is a single-leg squat used to isolate the legs. Single-leg exercises are a great way to improve muscle imbalances. It is performed with one leg straightened in front of your body while the other squats. Pistol squats may be challenging to perform if you are a beginner, so make sure to hold on to something that assists your balance throughout the movement.
7) Box Squat
The box squat is an excellent exercise that helps you increase the strength and explosiveness of your legs. It is a squat variation that builds incredible power because you need to stay tight as you move your weight upwards. You can perform this squat variation before or after your leg workouts to add more volume.
8) Box Jumps
The box jumps are a plyometric exercise that adds strength, speed, and power to your quads. It is performed by jumping on a box or an elevated ground with a soft landing and with the knees slightly pointing outwards. The box jump is a great exercise to add to your routine to improve overall athletic performance.
9) Barbell Hack Squat
The barbell hack squat is one of the most underrated quad exercises that significantly improves leg strength. It is performed like the deadlift where you grab a barbell, but it is placed behind the legs. To add difficulty to this exercise, you can also elevate your heels by placing a plate underneath.
10) Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift is a deadlift variation that primarily works the quads. Trap bar deadlift is an excellent exercise for a beginner, as there is minimal mobility required. This type of deadlift is performed with a trap bar, also known as the hex bar. Likewise, perform the movement in a half-squat position while sticking your chest out and lifting the bar.
The trap bar deadlift uses a hip hinge pattern, mainly because of the hip extension that happens throughout the movement. This exercise requires less mechanical understanding compared to the barbell deadlift and is much safer for beginners.
Doing lower body exercises like squats and its many variations will surely boost your athletic ability and performance. It offers significant benefits not just for strength, speed, and power but also for better bone density, stronger tendons and ligaments, and better production of hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, and human growth hormone.
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