Leg Exercises

4 Killer Moves for Bigger Quads

Crush your quadriceps with this barrage of leg-thrashing exercises.

front squat

Let’s face it, most gym goers are toiling away for hours on end in the weight room to look better, not necessarily to become a better athlete or lift maximal weight. If looking good is what you are after, then big, shredded quads are essential. Posterior chain work is great, and it is a must for any serious lifter. But, aesthetically speaking, shredded hamstrings just don’t compare to big, dense, ripped quads.

Anatomy and Function

“The quads” consist of 4 separate muscles; the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. The lateralis muscles originate on the femur and connect at the patella. The rectus femoris also attaches at the patella but inserts into the hip bone. Together these 4 muscles are responsible for knee extension.

Top Exercises for Quad Development

Count by 5’s, Build Your Thighs

1. Front Squat

The number one move for quad growth is an old favorite, the front squat. Take a look at any successful Olympic lifter and you will see goliath quads. A huge reason for this, among other factors which we will get to next, is the predominance of front squat work that they do when compared to other athletes. The front squat makes you keep an upright torso position (so the bar doesn’t fall off your shoulders) this puts much more of the focus on your quads. Also, because of the upright torso, your knees will track more forward over your toes. This leads to a greater tibia angle and a more quad-dominant exercise.

2. High Bar or Olympic Squats

Another favorite of the Olympic lifting brood is the high bar or Olympic Squat (hence the name.) For this squat variation, the bar will be up high on your traps and you will take a narrower stance than you would for a low bar or powerlifting squat. This will force your knees over your toes (increasing tibia angle) and force your torso to stay upright, leading to a more quad dominant exercise.

3. Leg Extensions

The leg extension movement allows you to isolate the quadriceps better than any other modality. A toes pointed in position puts more stress on the outside sweep of the quads, while toes pointed out puts more stress on the inside of the leg and inner teardrop. The key is to bring the weight up as high as possible and hold it briefly at the topmost position. A “Muscle intention” style of lifting should be applied during the leg extension. Feel those quads working and squeeze them hard at the top.

4. Barbell Step-Ups

The barbell step-up is a great exercise for overall leg development and especially the quadriceps. To perform this lift, set up a box, bench or stack of plates to a height of 18-24”. Put a loaded Barbell on your back and step up with your right foot. Place the right foot on the bench. Stand up on the bench by extending your hip and knee of your right leg and place left foot on bench. Step down with the left leg by flexing your hip and knee on your right leg. Return to original standing position. Start the next step up with your left leg, switching between right and left between each rep. Do 6-10 reps on each leg (for a total of 12-20 reps) for 3-5 sets.

These four exercises will help anybody grow their quads to goliath proportions. If big and shredded is your goal do 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps in these exercises and make sure you are using a weight that makes you work.