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Quadriceps Strengthening Exercises

Arjun Kulkarni Nov 28, 2018
Mild exercises can help to get over an injury, while strengthening exercises can help to build strength and muscle mass. Here are exercises for quadriceps explained with pictures.
Quadriceps or simply known as quads is a large group of four muscles, which is located on the front of the thigh. The quads help to perform important actions like walking, running, squatting and jumping. They also provide stability while standing, and aid in maintaining the legs straight.
When it comes to working out, most people tend to concentrate only on their upper body, improving on biceps or their abs. But, it is important to apply just as much effort for the lower body as well. You can't have a total body workout without including all the important muscle sets. Let us look at the various quadriceps strengthening exercises.

Strengthening and Mass Building Exercises

Ensure, you have a trainer nearby when working with weights. Also, if you are a beginner to exercising, then it is important to perform all the workouts under the supervision of an instructor.
Before you start with the following strength training exercises, make sure you do a warm up of at least 10 minutes. Interval running of 20-25 minutes before strength training will help you build better quads.


Squats are one of the most basic of the quadriceps exercises. It is a closed circuit exercise that you need to do with your feet on the ground. 
  • Keep a shoulder-width distance between your feet.
  • Then bend your knees and go down smoothly. The posture should be such that you are sitting on a chair.
  • Then come back up.
  • You can increase the intensity of this exercise by carrying a barbell on your back.
  • You could also carry dumbbells in your hands to increase the difficulty level of this exercise.
  • Do this exercise in 3 sets of 12-15 reps.


While this exercise is primarily for the quadriceps, pressure also falls on the hamstrings while performing this workout.
  • Stand with your left foot in front.
  • Keep some distance between the legs.
  • Bend your knees and go down.
  • Now, switch sides and repeat.
  • You could also increase the intensity of this exercise with a barbell or dumbbells.
  • One set of right leg forward and another with the left leg forward counts as one set.
  • Perform 2 sets of 15 reps each.

Dumbbell Step-ups

Dumbbell step-ups are again a very simple exercise. For this exercise, you need a pair of dumbbells and something to step-up on. You can use a step platform, or stand near a sturdy staircase to perform this exercise.
  • Carry one dumbbell in each hand, first place your right foot on the step and then back down.
  • Repeat this with the left leg.
  • You could do each rep with alternate legs or you could do one full set of the right leg, and then one full set of the left leg.
  • Either way, make sure you do 2 sets of 30 reps per leg.

Leg Press

This is another great gym workout, that targets on the quadriceps.
  • Position yourself in the machine, so that your back and head are supported, grasp the handles.
  • Place your feet on the foot plates.
  • Maintain the feet in line with the knee.
  • Push the platform away, then return to starting position. This was one rep.
  • Perform this exercise in 3 sets and 12 reps each.

Leg Extensions

Leg extensions is one of the simplest quadriceps muscle strengthening exercises. Leg extensions are performed on a machine so anyone can do it.
  • Position yourself in the machine, lock your legs behind the bar and grip the handles at the sides.
  • Brace yourself, and start to lift the bar with your legs. Return to starting position and repeat.
  • You can increase or decrease the weights as per your strength.
  • Do this exercise in 3 sets of 12 reps.

Strengthening (Rehab) Exercises

Exercises, mentioned previously, focus on building mass. However, if you had an injury or an accident, then you can follow the further exercises to improve your range-of-motion. Ensure, you consult a physician before you follow any workout for physical therapy.

Leg Raises

Here is a simple and effective quads exercise.
  • Lie down on a mat on your back.
  • Keep your legs straight
  • Now lock your knee.
  • Now, slowly raise your legs up to 90 degrees and then bring it down.
  • Perform this exercise in 3 sets of 15 reps.

Wall Slides (Squats)

This workout can be done with or without a Swiss ball, however a Swiss ball will make the workout more effective.
  • Position a Swiss ball between your back and a wall. Keep some distance between your feet.
  • Slide down slowly, while keeping the Swiss ball in position.
  • Then slowly slide up. This was one rep.
  • Do two sets, and 8 reps in each set.

Chair Exercises

  • While sitting on a chair, raise one leg till it is parallel to the floor and bring it down. Switch sides and repeat.
  • You can also march while sitting in the chair to strengthen the quadriceps. Lift one foot few inches off the ground and put it down, then lift another foot and put it down. Repeat 8 times. You can do two to three sets of this exercise.

Quadriceps Stretches

What most people forget is to do cool off after the workout. So once you are done with all the strengthening exercises, it is a good practice to cool down with some stretching.

Stretch #1

Stand straight, and bend your right leg and bring it near your back and hold it with right hand. Hold the stretch for a slow count of 10 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. This was one rep. Do two more reps.

Stretch #2

The previous stretch is great, however, if you are a beginner to exercising or following a workout routine for rehabilitation, then you can hold a wall for support with your free hand.

Stretch #3

Another good stretch that works well for quads is the touching toes or seated hamstring stretch. Just sit on the floor with your legs in front of you, and touch your toes, or as far as your fingers can reach. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Do two more reps.
Building muscles around the knee provides support and reduces the risk of injury. Ensure you follow a healthy diet along with a good workout routine.
Studies show that following a diet can impact knee pain, and certain foods can help in quick recovery. Such foods are fruits, green tea, fish, and ginger.
Disclaimer: The information given here should not be used as a replacement for a fitness expert's advice.