The Quadriceps can be subdivided into four muscles or heads: Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis and Rectus Femoris. This group of muscles combined is the largest muscles of the leg. They are extremely crucial muscles aiding in important actions such as walking, running, jumping and squatting in addition to stabilizing the patella.
Tight quads? Don’t worry: foam rolling your quads is quick, easy, and truly effective. There are two main variations on foam rolling your quads: rolling both legs at the same time and rolling each leg individually. Neither is better, it’s really a matter of personal preference and what works best to release your fascia. If you’ve never used a foam roller before, or never foam rolled your quads, you might want to start with the two leg variation. It maintains an even pressure on both quads at the same time, distributing your weight onto to legs, and so it’s a little lighter. The single leg variation thereby exerts more pressure onto the fascia, so it’s better for those that have rolled their quads before, and know that their quads require harder pressure.
Please, read the general instructions on how to foam rolling, here.
For this exercise, you will need to use a leg extension machine.
First, choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad (feet pointed forward) and the hands holding the side bars. Adjust the pad so that it falls on top of your lower leg (just above your feet).
Also, make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg. If the angle is less than 90-degrees, means the knee is over the toes which in turn creates undue stress at the knee joint. If the machine is designed that way, make sure that when you start executing the exercise you stop going down once you hit the 90-degree angle.
Exhale and use your quadriceps to extend your legs to the maximum. Ensure that the rest of the body remains stationary on the seat. Pause a second on the contracted position.
Inhale and slowly lower the weight back to the original position, ensuring that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit. Repeat.
There is a challenge waiting for you!
The squat targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes but also improves balance and stability throughout the core and on both sides of the body.
Place a stability ball against a wall and gently lean against it, positioning the top of the ball into the small of your back.
Your feet should be hip-width apart with toes facing forward or turned out slightly.
Pull your shoulders blades down and back. Do not allow your low back to pull away from the ball. Gently lean into the ball, as you shift your weight into your heels.
Inhale and begin to lower the body, keeping the tailbone, low and mid-back against the ball as you bend your knees.
Push back with your hips, allowing them to drop under the ball. The ball will glide down the wall with you as you lower your body toward the floor. Do not move the feet. Continue to lower yourself until challenged or until your thighs align parallel to the floor.
Exhale and slowly push up away from the floor. Extend your hips to bring them back underneath your body. Continue pushing upward, returning to your starting position. Repeat.
The squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the thigh, hips, and butt, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs, as well as developing core strength.
Squats with resistance bands offer many options and are super effective. You can do bands squats with arms up, arms down, connected to the bottom of the door and so on. If you are used to heavy squats with weights, you will LOVE squats with bands. The pain in your knees and back will be considerably less.
An effective squat pattern is essential to most exercises. The dumbbell front squat targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes but also improves balance and stability throughout the core and on both sides of the body.
Stand with your feet wider than hip-width. Hold a dumbbell with each hand, with your palms facing each other. Engage your abs to stabilize your spine. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Curl the dumbbells to a position where they rest in front of your shoulders. Keep your chest up lifted and your chin parallel to the ground. Shift your weight into your heels.
Inhale and bend your hips and knees simultaneously. As you lower your hips the knees bend and will start to shift forward slowly. Try to prevent your knees from going forward past the toes. Keep the abds engaged and try to keep your back flat (do not tuck the butt or arch the low back).
Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. If your heels begin to lift off the floor or your torso begins to round, return to start position. Work to ensure that the feet do not move, the ankles do not collapse in or out and the knees remain lined up with the second toe.
Exhale and return to start position by pushing your feet into the floor through your heels. The hips and torso should rise together. Keep the heels flat on the floor and knees aligned with the second toe.
You can do lunges anywhere and the effects can be seen in no time, in the form of shapely, toned legs and backside. Lunges are a good exercise for strengthening, sculpting and building several muscles/muscle groups, including the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the glutes. A long lunge emphasizes the use of the gluteals whereas a short lunge emphasizes the quadriceps. It is a basic movement that is fairly simple to do for beginners.
Some people tend to avoid lunges because it can put too much strain on the knees. If you feel pain, take smaller steps. Increase your lunge distance as your pain gets better. Some people also find that doing a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge also helps reduce knee strain.
Stand with your torso upright holding two dumbbells in your hands by your sides.
In preparation to step forward, slowly lift one foot off the floor and find your balance on the standing leg. Try not to move the standing foot and maintain balance. Hold this position briefly before stepping forward. The raised foot should land on the heel first. Slowly shift your body weight onto the lead foot, placing it firmly on the floor.
Inhale and lower your upper body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put more stress on the knee. Keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.
Exhale, push up activating your thighs and butt muscles to return to your upright, starting position.. Repeat or change legs
The static lunge is a powerful exercise to engage your quads and gluteal muscles. It isn’t too far from a forward lunge 🙂 The key difference in the static lunge is that you hold your position. Instead of stepping forward to perform your lunge, stand with one foot forward and the other back, making a triangle with your legs. Without moving your feet, lower your rear leg until your knee almost touches the floor while bending your front leg. Repeat with the other side.