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10 Best Quadriceps Exercises To Strengthen Your Thighs

If you have been doing exercises to tone your thighs and not getting positive results, then you should consider changing them. Getting toned thighs isn't easy; one needs to target the muscles of the thighs i.e., the quadriceps, the four muscles located on the front of the thigh.

Quadriceps meaning four heads, work by bringing stability to the knee joints. The muscles contract together to help flex the hip and extend the knee.

Most often than not, an injury or a surgery performed on the thighs may make the quadriceps weak. Also, people with certain conditions may have weak quadriceps and these include patellofemoral stress syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome and patellar tendonitis [1] .

So, here we bring to you some quadriceps exercises that will not only strengthen your thigh muscles but also will tone them.

1. Straight Leg Raises

This exercise is an effective way to get your quadriceps muscles working properly by improving the strength of your quadriceps and muscles in your hips [2] .

How to do:

  • Lie on your back and bend the knee of one of your legs to a 90 degree angle and keep your foot flat on the surface.
  • Straighten your other leg and slowly lift it 12 inches off the floor by contracting the front thigh muscles.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds and lower your leg to the floor.
  • Repeat it 10 -15 times.

2. Wall Slide Exercise

The wall slide exercise works all the major muscle groups including quadriceps, calf muscles, and gluteus. It helps improve your balance and posture [3] .

How to do:

  • Stand with your back against the wall and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slowly and slide your back down the wall until your knees are bent to a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly slide back up straightening your knees.
  • Repeat it 10 times.

3. Short Arc Quads

The short arc squads exercise is a simple, yet effective exercise to enhance the strength and endurance of the quadriceps muscles. Usually, this exercise is a physical therapy exercise that is often performed after an injury to strengthen the quadriceps muscles [4] .

How to do:

  • Lie on your back and place a small towel under your knee.
  • Straighten your bent knee and tighten your quadriceps for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your leg down and repeat it for 15 reps.

4. Terminal Knee Extension

This exercise is a simple way to strengthen and build your quadriceps muscles. It is considered an effective exercise because your quadriceps will be working while supporting your body weight [5] .

How to do:

  • Stand straight and tie a resistance band around one of your knees to the leg of a table.
  • Bend the leg and straighten your knee, placing tension on the band.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat for 15 reps.

5. Bodyweight Squat

Bodyweight squat works for all your multiple muscle groups and increases strength in the thighs. It also strengthens the legs and tendons in the knees and improves hip mobility [6] .

How to do:

  • Stand with your feet and shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit on your knees and lower your body, keeping your back straight and chest up.
  • Stay in this position for 5 seconds and then stand up.
  • Repeat for 10 reps.

6. Barbell Front Squat

This exercise works several major muscle groups. It enhances your core strength, improves flexibility, helps build powerful thighs, strengthens lower back and firms your abdominal muscles [7] .

How to do:

  • Place a barbell in front of your shoulders.
  • Keep your chest up and core tight.
  • Bend your hips and knees as low as you can in a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat for 10 reps.

7. Leg Press

Leg press exercise works on all the major muscle groups, including the quadriceps, glutes, calf muscles, and feet. It helps in building the quadriceps muscles during the push-off and lifting phase of the exercise [8] .

How to do:

  • In a leg press machine, sit in such a way that your hips are situated under your knees.
  • Lower the knees towards your chest until they are at a 90-degree angle and then press back up.
  • Repeat this exercise for 15 reps.

8. Sprints

During the sprint exercise, your quadriceps and hamstrings are involved hugely. This helps in strengthening the muscles and improves flexibility [9] .

How to do:

  • Lean your body weight forward and keep your feet strong on the ground.
  • Push your body and feet and sprint forward.
  • Rest 2-5 minutes in between sprints.
  • Do it for 5-10 minutes.

9. Box Jump

Box jump works all the major muscle groups including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, core and calf muscles. When you are landing on the box during the exercise, your quadriceps muscles work the most [10] .

How to do:

  • Stand in front of a box.
  • Swing your arms down and back as you jump on the box.
  • Land softly in a squat position.
  • Stand up and then step down.
  • Repeat for 10 reps.

10. Lateral Lunges

The lateral lunges exercise targets both the glutes and quadriceps muscles. It is an effective lower body exercise that builds the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, while also targeting both the inner and outer thighs [11] .

How to do:

  • Stand straight with your shoulder-feet width apart.
  • Put the weight on your heels and take a big step to the side.
  • Lower your body until the knee of your leading leg is bent at 90-degree angle, keeping your trailing leg straight.
  • Stay in this position for 5 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 15 reps.
View Article References
  1. [1] Kaya D, Doral MN, Callaghan M.How can we strengthen the quadriceps femoris in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome?Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2012;2(1):25–32.
  2. [2] Soderberg GL, Cook TM.An electromyographic analysis of quadriceps femoris muscle setting and straight leg raising.Phys Ther.1983;63(9):1434-8.
  3. [3] Hardwick, D. H., Beebe, J. A., McDonnell, M. K., & Lang, C. E. (2006). A comparison of serratus anterior muscle activation during a wall slide exercise and other traditional exercises.Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy,36(12), 903-910.
  4. [4] WYATT, F. B., Milam, S., Manske, R. C., & Deere, R. (2001). The effects of aquatic and traditional exercise programs on persons with knee osteoarthritis.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,15(3), 337-340.
  5. [5] Dontigny RL.Terminal extension exercises for the knee.Phys Ther.1972;52(1):45-6.
  6. [6] Kritz, M., Cronin, J., & Hume, P. (2009). The bodyweight squat: A movement screen for the squat pattern.Strength & Conditioning Journal,31(1), 76-85.
  7. [7] Clark, D. R., Lambert, M. I., & Hunter, A. M. (2012). Muscle activation in the loaded free barbell squat: a brief review.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,26(4), 1169-1178.
  8. [8] Alkner, B. A., Tesch, P. A., & Berg, H. E. (2000). Quadriceps EMG/force relationship in knee extension and leg press.Medicine and science in sports and exercise,32(2), 459-463.
  9. [9] Young, W., Benton, D., & John Pryor, M. (2001). Resistance training for short sprints and maximum-speed sprints.Strength & Conditioning Journal,23(2), 7.
  10. [10] AF, K. J. F., Stieg, J. L., Tran, T. T., AF, L. E. B., AF, J. W. C., & AF, D. A. J. (2011). Effects of depth jump vs. box jump warm-ups on vertical jump in collegiate vs. club female volleyball players.Med Sport,15(3), 103-106.
  11. [11] Riemann, B., Congleton, A., Ward, R., & Davies, G. J. (2013). Biomechanical comparison of forward and lateral lunges at varying step lengths.J Sports Med Phys Fitness,53(2), 130-138.
Read more about: muscles thighs fitness exercise
Story first published: Saturday, November 16, 2019, 15:53 [IST]
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