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What are Quadriceps?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Positioned on the front or anterior of the thigh, the quadriceps consist of four muscles. These muscles are called the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris. Attached to the front portion of the tibia, most of the muscles of the quadriceps begin at the top portion of the femur. However, the rectus femoris starts at the pelvis and extends across the hip joint.

The quadriceps work to allow for the straightening of the knee and leg extension. Like the other muscles of the quadriceps, the rectus femoris helps in extending the knee. However, it also serves as a hip flexor.

It is important to keep your quadriceps strong to allow for the highest level of flexibility, as well as to prevent injury. There are exercises and stretches helpful in keeping quadriceps strong and limber. Taking care of your quadriceps not only helps to guard against muscle injuries, but can also help to support the knee joint and protect it from injury. Such exercises can be found on the Internet, as well as in fitness magazines and books. Keep in mind, however, that it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise or stretching program.

Straight leg raises are helpful for encouraging strong quadriceps. To do a leg raise, lie on the floor with your legs held straight out in front. Next, bend one of your knees at a 90-degree angle; keep the foot of that leg flat on the floor. Keeping your other leg straight, flex your foot and lift the straight leg slowly until it is six inches off the floor. Hold it in that position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower it to the ground. Repeat ten times before switching to the other leg.

Many exercises for the quadriceps are useful for strengthening the hip flexors as well. Be sure to concentrate on contracting the quadriceps while performing the exercises. Also, it is best to start slowly with any new exercise routine. Exercising too fast and too hard can lead to injury.

You can also use exercise machines to train and strengthen your quadriceps. Among the best exercises you can do with a machine are leg extensions, lying machine squats, hack squats, leg presses, and thigh abductors. To enjoy the maximum benefit of these and other machine exercises, be sure to pay attention to proper form. Proper form is also important for preventing injuries.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By GreenWeaver — On Jun 21, 2011

@Cupcake15 - I love the stair climber. I think that doing water aerobics is great for quadriceps rehabilitation. Whenever I have running injuries, I do water aerobics because it does not strain my legs and it does burn fat and gives me a great workout.

I think that the water acts as a natural resistance just like a band or weights would. It also is relaxing and you feel so refreshed when you are done.

If you want a more high impact workout, you could always jump rope. I do five sets of three hundred jumps and my quadriceps muscles have gotten so strong that I can’t believe it. In fact, my hamstrings are getting a lot of definition as well.

It is a great workout that only takes about 25 minutes to do. You can also do a combination of jump roping sets along with lunges and squats with weights for a total body workout.

By cupcake15 — On Jun 18, 2011

@Crispety - I agree which is why I don’t lift weights. I use bands instead and so far I have not had any injuries. I also wanted to add that there are a lot of low impact exercises that help strengthen the quadriceps muscles.

Using a graduated step bench and doing step aerobics really helps to shape the quadriceps muscles. I also think that the stair climber machine is excellent for building the quadriceps muscles and it gives you a great cardio workout as well. I am always out of breath when I am done.

By Crispety — On Jun 16, 2011

I know what you mean. I am an avid runner and I always try to do lunges and squats to make sure that my quadriceps muscles remain strong. It is important to stretch before you work this muscle so that you don’t receive a quadriceps injury.

You can start with three sets of ten repetitions and then gradually increase the repetitions as you gain strength. After a while, you can even do lunges and squats while holding dumbbells. That is what I did. I first started with two pound weights and then gradually increased to ten pounds. I really wouldn’t use more than ten pounds.

One thing that you have to remember when you do these exercises especially when using weights is that you have stretch beforehand, maintain proper form and stretch afterward.

If you don’t do this you will be sorry because you will be incredibly sore and it can keep you off your feet for a few days. I definitely don’t ever want to deal with a quadriceps strain like this.

By mabeT — On Jun 16, 2011

Strong quadriceps are really important for anyone who wants general good health, but for runners it’s crucial. You see, the quad muscles help support the knee. And, if a person’s knee is injured, it can be devastating to their running.

It seems like once the knee is really hurt, it is very hard to ever regain all of the strength and ability that it once had. Even those who are really dedicated to making a comeback might just not be able to.

So, anyone who really enjoys their running should take special care to strengthen their quadricep muscles and stretch them before taking off!

By blackDagger — On Jun 16, 2011

Dancing, singing, acting – they have always been right up my alley. And, there are some major benefits to dancing on a regular basis. One of these is for sure legs that won’t stop!

But, as I get older and after having two kids, my quadriceps are starting to look a little…run down, I suppose. I’ve never had any extra flab on my legs, but now I’ve got these little patches of soft spots!

My flexibility has also gone way downhill. I still exercise, but I just don’t have the time to keep the pace like I used to.

I would really appreciate any quadriceps exercise suggestions for how to keep them looking great even after babies and life start to wear on them a little.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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