Workout Routines

The Best Quadriceps Workout for Beginners

Fill out those gym shorts—and bulk up your legs—with this straightforward circuit workout. But be warned: Just because it’s novice-friendly doesn’t mean it’s easy.

The Best Quadriceps Workout for Beginners
Westend61 / Getty
Westend61 / Getty
Duration 35 min
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

Newcomers to lifting often overlook the quadriceps in favor of higher-profile aesthetic muscles such as the biceps, triceps, and calves.

That’s a shame, since the quads play such a key role in everyday movement. To dismiss the quads as simply aesthetic muscles or “lower-body triceps” is to neglect a crucial part of your body’s operating system. (Plus, if you’re gonna pull off the short-shorts that are so popular these days, then you’d better get working on your legs.)

The four-pronged quadriceps muscle serves to extend the lower leg, making strong quads crucial for walking, running, jumping, and squatting. The quads also play an important role in stabilizing the knees and helping to flex the hips.

In other words, the quads come into play in just about every movement. And, yes, a well-developed set of quads is a thing of beauty, giving a body symmetry and curvature. It’s perhaps the one muscle group that looks equally impressive on men and women.

DIRECTIONS

This quadriceps workout reflects the movements of everyday life. It’s designed as a circuit: Perform 10 reps of each of the following five exercises, without stopping. Do three circuits total. A one-minute break for water between circuits is permitted.

Kick off your quads workout by spending some time on a foam roller. Roll over the quads, either one at a time or both at once. This is very effective in working out muscle spasms, and serves as an active warmup before the next quads exercises.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Quadruped Rocking You'll need: No Equipment How to
Quadruped Rocking thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest
Get down on all fours and let the lower back sag. Push your hips back as far as you can, holding the lumbar arch. You should feel a stretch in and around the hips. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Exercise 2

Split Squat
exercise image placeholder
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest
Step out into a lunge with dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides. Lower your hips by squatting back and down. Without letting your back knee touch the floor, drive your weight back up with the front leg. Do 10 reps on one leg and repeat with the other.

Exercise 3

Squat Jump
Man doing jump squat.  thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest
Stand with feet just outside shoulders and hands behind head. Squat, keeping knees behind toes. Hold for 2 seconds, jump vertically. Land softly in starting squat position, hold 3 seconds and repeat.

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Lateral Slide Squat
exercise image placeholder
10 sets
-- reps
-- rest
Stand holding dumbbells on your shoulders, with your elbows pointed up. Step to one side and squat back and down with the stepping leg, keeping the other leg straight. Return to starting position by pushing up with the bent leg. Switch sides and repeat th

Exercise 5

Goblet Squat You'll need: Dumbbells, Kettlebells How to
Goblet Squat thumbnail
10 sets
-- reps
-- rest
Hold a kettlebell with two hands against chest. Squat by sitting the hips back and down, keeping the weight in the heels of your feet. Maintain contact between the kettlebell and the chest. Elbows should barely touch knees. Rise and extend through hips.
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