The quads are an often-neglected muscle group when it comes to working out.
Memes about neglecting leg day for chest day are so ubiquitous at this point it feels ridiculous to even bring them up, but it’s the cold, hard truth. Working out your quads might seem difficult, less important or less interesting than lifting huge weights, but it’s a critical part of any bodybuilder’s workout routine. Since it isn’t a muscle group that’s used in an obvious way, it can be tricky to think about how to work your quads out at home without equipment. Here are 5 easy moves you can incorporate into your weekly or daily workouts to focus in on developing your quads.
1. The Single-Leg Squat
The holy grail of quad exercises. Unlike the regular squat, which focuses on the muscles at the backs of your legs when done correctly, the single-leg squat zeroes in on the quads. If you do them right, you’ll really feel the burn there. Try adding 10 or 15 single-leg squats at the beginning of your workout, and then another 10 or 15 more when you finish. If you’ve never done a single-leg squat before, it’s easy to do from home: all you need is a low bench or chair. Just stand like you’re going to do a squat, raise one leg at a right angle in front of you and then bend down until you’re lightly sitting on the chair. You just did a single-leg squat.
2. The Paused Squat
This is another great squat for people looking to focus on the quads. It’s also ideal for a home workout since it requires no equipment at all, just your own two legs. Lower yourself into a comfortable squat and then hold the pose for as long you feel able — for some people this will only be about five minutes and for others it could be up to 15. Try doing the longest paused squat you possibly can before starting a workout. It will activate your muscles and double as warming up before the real workout begins.
Sideways or forwards, lunges are an old standby that are always great for stretching and working out your quads. Lunges are easy to incorporate into almost any workout or even just when you’re walking around the house. Make it a goal to get 50 lunges done in a day and then do it however you can. Lunge as you walk from the living room to the bathroom. Lunge your way to the kitchen for dinner. If you do this every day, you’ll see serious results in the definition of your quads.
4. The Jump Squat
Another exciting one that should jazz up any workout routine is the jump squat. Bring yourself into a comfortable low squat and then launch yourself upwards. Bend your knees when you return to the floor to minimize impact on your joints. Add a round of 5 or 10 jump squats to your regular workout to see an improvement in your quads. This one is a great source of cardio, too, since it really gets the blood pumping.
5. Straight-Leg Raises
Basic, but essential nonetheless. Lie on the floor — on a yoga mat if you have one, or anything soft, really, even just a bath towel — with your legs out and your arms at your sides. Lift a perfectly straight leg up at the hip and then gently lower it. Do it over and over and you will start to feel the burn in your quads. What’s really great about this exercise is the way it focuses in solely on your quads and develops their strength. This is a great cool down activity if you’ve already done a hard workout for the day, so consider adding a 5-minute window for straight leg raises at the end of your workout.