The overall plan of any weight trainer should be to establish a routine that helps to develop lean muscle mass in a completely balance fashioned. That means that each muscle group is targeted through consistent and alternating workouts. The result is that each of the muscle groups will work in tandem with each other to produce optimal results.
Whether you’re working out to increase form and tone or you want serious strength for the purposes of power and increased metabolism then the top 5 exercises for increasing quads is where you should turn your attention. The legs, specifically the upper leg muscles, are the largest grouping of muscles in the body. For all intents and purposes they are the source of strength and power within our bodies.
The muscle groups of the legs should be a strong consideration during all of your workouts specifically because of this. With many lifting exercises you are indeed using your shoulders, chest and arms but keep in mind that your legs have to support you in every one of these workouts. Having strong legs will allow you to...
- Lift a greater amount of weight.
- Lift far more weight than other muscle groups.
- Create a foundation for the other muscle groups to lift on.
- Provide a powerful source of lean muscle to fuel a higher metabolism.
The Anatomy of the Quads
The quadriceps (quads) are a group of muscles that stretch across the front (anterior) of your thigh. In any person with a toned body, these muscles can be seen quite clearly – especially if they utilize the top 5 exercises for increasing quads in their normal workout. The quads are a massive muscle group and are made up of hundreds of smaller muscles that move to support the larger muscles:
- Rectus Femoris
These muscles begin at the top of the femur (with the Rectus Femoris crossing the hip joint) and run down to the front of the tibia in the lower leg. The primary purpose is to extend or straighten the knee.
The Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Quads – The Breakdown
While nearly every weight training exercise will use the legs to some degree, you can’t rely on this passive usage alone to work the muscle groups of the legs. This is indirect and won’t benefit your legs as much as direct improvement through specific training. These top 5 exercises for increasing quads will ensure that through a variety of workouts your quads and leg muscles will match the tone of the rest of your body.
Top Quad Exercise #1 – Sprints
Sprints are easy, and you can do them just about anywhere you have enough space to get your sprint on. You don’t need to go a long distance, and the massive benefit from sprints is that they’re both aerobic and anaerobic. Not only will you be conditioning your legs but you’re improving your overall endurance and cardiovascular system.
While this workout is easy, avoid sprinting on hard surfaces. Try to do sprints on a soft surface that will give you some measure of traction; woods, grass, trails. If you want to change the pace and you have a limited work area (such as in the city) try doing stair sprints.
When sprinting, pump your arms to gain momentum. Bring your knees up high and really work your legs in the extension in order to get the most action and power out of your quads. You’ll get the most performance the most workout this way as well.
Top Quad Exercise #2 – Barbell Step-Ups
One of the best ways that you can train your body is to work through functional exercises. A functional exercise is any workout that mimics real life movements that you perform every day when you’re at home, or at work or out in the world. The barbell step up is one of the top 5 quad exercises because it’s so similar to the lunge and it mimics those movements we do every day while stabilizing our bodies across multiple planes.
To set this exercise up, use a barbell (or dumbbells, though the weight will be significantly less) across your shoulders similar to a squat. Step forward onto a small box or bench at a low height. Make sure the item you’re stepping up to can support the weight. When you step up, use your forward leg to propel yourself up. Bring your back foot forward and raise your knee up as high as you can. Step that foot back down while maintaining tension on the leg you first stepped forward onto the box with.
Top Quad Exercise #3 – Barbell Lunges
This exercise is very similar to the barbell step-up, and is an extremely effective workout that targets your quads. Additional weights on a barbell aren’t necessary, as variations of this workout can be done with dumbbells or simply using your own body weight to tone the quads. It’s all a matter of preference and the intensity of the workout.
Your goal is to work through a set of lunges, just like you would normally do them, while maintaining a weighted barbell on your shoulders or with dumbbells at your sides. When you lunge, you want one foot forward and one foot back with both knees bent. Your forward thigh should be parallel to the floor in order to achieve an optimal lunge – without your back knee touching the ground.
Top Quad Exercise #4 – Barbell Squats
Squats have long been the king of all leg exercises. The barbell squat activates all the muscle groups in the legs. This compound exercise requires complete body stabilization which makes it one of the most physically demanding exercises to perform. Adding additional weight can put a hard strain on your leg muscles to spur on the growth and recover of new and stronger muscle tissue. While effective, this exercise does require stronger shoulders as the barbell is held either across the top of the chest or across the shoulders behind the neck.
When performing the squat, it’s important to keep the back straight and lower the body slowly under tension to a point where the thigh is parallel to the floor (though you can go lower). Raise yourself back to a standing position and repeat.
Top Quad Exercise #5 – The Leg Press
It’s important to keep in mind that the leg press is not a functional exercise. It does not mimic the gestures or movements of work we do on a daily basis. This is more for weight trainers that are serious about applying heavy weight to the muscle groups of the legs.
Using machines and various foot positions, it’s possible to apply a large amount of weight to the legs from a safe and comfortable position that will target all of the muscle groups within the upper and lower legs. If your aim is to tone the individual muscles and muscle groups in the legs then the leg press is an ideal choice to supplement the other top quad exercises.
- 40 Yard Sprints - 3 Sets
- Lunges - 2 Sets of 12-15 Reps on each leg
- Barbell Squats - 3 Sets of 8 Reps
- 40 Yard Sprints - 3 Sets
- 40 Yard Sprints - 2 Sets
- Barbell Squats - 3 Sets of 5 reps
- Step Ups - 2 Sets of 10 reps on each leg
- Leg Press - 3 Sets of 8 Reps
- Lunges - 2 Sets of 12 Reps on each leg
Weight lifters and trainers all too often forget about the legs beyond some run, sprint or walk time. It’s necessary to do various exercises that will not only tone the legs but strengthen the core muscles of the quads and lower legs as well. Remember that your legs provide the core strength that your other muscle groups need to function throughout your workouts. Make an effort to combine these top 5 quad exercises in your workout routine for maximum muscle gain.
As always if you have any questions regarding the article above or just fitness in general please don’t hesitate to send me an email. AlexBigStew@gmail.com.