Having big quads is definitely saying: "I'm not skipping leg day." And that is important because your lower body supports your upper body. So, if you have a weak lower body, that will affects your joints, trunk stability and more. Don't skip on leg day and just think of those big quads you can achieve, to help you look good, build strength, and support your torso. In order to properly train your quads evenly, you must hit the 4 muscles that make them up: vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris.
The following exercises are designed to recruit all 4 of these muscles, in order to train your quads evenly. For example, an exercise as simple as a leg extension won't cut it, since recruiting the rectus femoris required hip flexion stimulation – which means that you need exercises that involve knee elevation. Vince Sant’s tip for optimal quad activation is to imagine there’s a coin under the arch of your foot and that you need to keep as much weight as you can off it, by focusing your weight on your heel and big toes.
- Place a bar on your upper back and hold the ends to keep it stable.
- Place your feet at hip width apart and stand upright with your chest and shoulders back, while maintaining a neutral spine.
- Step back with one foot and keep your hips facing forward, as you reach the floor with the toe of your back foot.
- Bend both of your knees to descend until your trailing knee is short from touching the floor.
- Remember to keep a neutral spine, don't lean forward, and don't round your back.
- Press back up by pushing through your rear foot.
- Repeat on the other foot!
Narrow Stance Leg Press
- Sit on a leg press machine and place your legs on the platform in front of you. Position your feet just inside you shoulder-width with your toes slightly pointing outwards.
- Make sure that you keep your head up and keep your back on the pad at all times.
- Press the platform upwards until your legs are fully extended. Your trunk and legs should make a 90-degree angle for the perfect starting position.
- Lower the platform with a control movement until your upper and lower legs make a 90-degree angle.
- Push through your heels and using your quads, press the platform back up.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or a kettlebell in the goblet position) and put one of your feet behind you on a bench or elevated platform.
- Descend as low as you can and hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds.
- Push back up to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other foot!
Make sure you implement these exercise in your leg day routine. They recruit all 4 quads muscles for even hypertrophy and strength so that you can rely on your lower body to support your trunk. The rear foot elevated split squat especially is a great exercise to help you stretch the vastus laterialis which is your hardest quad muscle to work. With every exercise make sure you squeeze your quads during the movement, to ensure an effective workout.
Your quads play a key role in walking and ambulatory movements. They help move the knee and they activate when you bend and straighten your knee. The rectus femoris not only contributes to your knee movement, but it's also involved in rotating your hips. Basically, your quads work closely with your other leg muscles in order to promote proper movement, balance, running, and exercise. So it's vital that you strengthen your quads to reap the benefits.
If you fail to properly train your quads or they get overused, you will have difficulty getting around. They require proper care and maintenance and while stretching is a good way to keep them flexible and increase your range of motion, the exercises above are mandatory in order to help you support your trunk as well, especially if you are a lifter who trains for upper body hypertrophy as well. As long as you add these exercise in your leg day routine, you’ll be successful and improve your overall athletic performance!
For more on these quad exercises, make sure you check Vince’s 3 Exercises For Bigger Quads video, for visual aid and insight in the biomechanics involved in performing these exercises. He does a great job explaining and showing you how to perform these exercises correctly and it’s definitely a must watch for anyone who wants to train and grow their quads!