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7 Exercise Hacks for Building Strong Quads

7 Exercise Hacks for Building Strong Quads

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If you are looking at building strong quads, look no further! We have compiled some of the best exercises to help you develop your quads.

Short for quadriceps, this muscle group that runs down the front of leg is important for any activity, especially running. Their main functions are knee extension and flexing of the hip.

If you want to build strong legs, there are different muscle groups you will need to focus on. Today we will help you learn more about building strong quads.

Building Strong Quads or Hamstrings First

Nude Statue with Strong LegsIf you are looking at building strong legs, you will need to work all muscles. It would be a mistake to ignore hamstrings, but as a different muscle type, they also require different exercises.

This is why if you also want to spend time and effort on your hamstrings, they require a different type of exercise.

By building those two separately it will also be more efficient, this is why you want to have dedicated exercises instead of a standard leg workout only. If your quad workout is solid enough with specific exercises done in proper form, you will probably only need to do it once a week.  

Below we have detailed some of the best moves to build stronger quads. You can use those to build your quad workout. Of course, if you have any concerns about doing these properly, you should consult a coach or trainer in order to help you out.

Weighted Step-Up

Dumbbell and barbell step-ups are great when training quads. Either a dumbbell or barbell will work depending on what is available to you.

While holding dumbbells in each hand (or a barbell in back position across your shoulders), you can use a knee-high bench, ledge, or platform. Just ensure that whatever platform you are using is stable.

Start with your feet around shoulder-width, and step up onto the platform. Make sure that you stand up all the way on the platform (although do not lock out your knee – just get full extension).

After full extension, step down from the platform. You can either repeat on the same leg to do a set of reps or alternate legs, depending on what feels the most comfortable to you.

If you have bad knees or feel starting with weights could be too much, then do simple unweighted step-up reps before you move on to adding weight.

Leg Extensions

Leg extension exercises are some of the most efficient methods to work out your quads.

Sitting Leg Extensions

This exercise is, most likely, going to be done on a leg extension machine at a local gym. This machine will have a seat with two pads on your legs. One pad will go across your upper thigh and this one helps hold your upper leg still during the movement. The other pad will be down around your ankle. This pad is what you will “extend” upwards to complete the movement.

If you have bad or weak knees, or if you are just starting working on building your quads, this might be a bit difficult for you or not ideal. 

You can also do this movement in a chair without using added weight. Simply sit and plant your feet on the floor, about hip-width. With a straight back, extend one knee to lift your lower leg, then return to starting position and alternate legs. You can start with 15 to 20 reps.

Standing Leg Extensions

On top of working out your quads, this will also help with your core and balance.

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Raise one foot about knee height by bending your knee, then straighten your knee to extend your leg in front of you. You should keep that same knee up and do 10 to 15 reps, then change legs. Make sure you keep your core engaged and maintain a straight back. You can use a wall to rest a hand for extra support.

Best Squats for Quads

Squat exercises can be varied and they are important for building strong quads. Depending on your fitness level and the equipment available to you, you can choose to use some of the following.

Barbell Front Squat

Guy Doing Front Squat with Barbell on ShouldersThis exercise is slightly different than your standard squat, so you may want to try without weight before using a barbell.

To get into position for this exercise you will need to rest the barbell on the front of your shoulders. It is important to have the bar resting on the shoulders to protect your wrists.

From there, you should lower your body into a deep squat, while your back is upright and tall.

At the lowest position, your hamstrings should be close or touching the back of your calves. But, be careful as you begin to develop this movement. You may not have the flexibility to get that low in the squat. Just keep working towards a parallel squat.

When reversing and going back up, you want to control the movement and do it slowly until you get back into the starting position.

You may have asked yourself how to build lower quads? The front squat is a compound movement that will strengthen your core, shoulders, and quads, including the tricky lower quads.

Bulgarian Split Squat

You can do this exercise without weight at first, and later add dumbbells or a barbell when you feel stronger.

You will need a bench or even a chair that will be stable. Standing in front of the bench, place the right foot behind and on top of the bench.

There should be enough distance so that you can lower your front leg comfortably. It may take a few tries to achieve the right position and balance.

You want your feet to be roughly hip-width apart to help with balance. Once you feel comfortable, with a straight back, lower slowly towards the floor. Your back right knee should be close to the floor, while your left quad ends up parallel to the floor. Try to ensure that your forward knee does not extend over your front toe.

Slowly go back up to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of reps and then move on to your next leg.

Lunges for Quads

Standard lunges are a great exercise for quads. There are some variations that you can use to push your quad muscles a bit harder and get stronger quads.

Reverse Lunge

This is a good exercise, that is also knee-friendly. For beginners, this is also an easy move to achieve. Also, this is a great way to build  bigger quads at home since you don’t need any equipment.

Start standing with your core engaged. Take a big step back with your right foot, while bending both legs until your back knee touches the floor.  This knee should be directly beneath your hip.

While doing so, you should bend your arms and bring your hands together to your chest. To reverse, simply push through your feet to get back to start position. Again, try to ensure that your front knee does not go past your front toes – as that could place your knee in a weaker position.

You can alternate legs with each movement or do two sets of reps, one for each leg.

Barbell Lunge

Woman in Doing Barbell Reverse LungeLike the barbell squat, this is an excellent exercise to build strong quads. You can also modify this and do it with dumbbells or kettlebells if either of those is better for you.

While holding the barbell on your back, take a large step forward. Then lower directly in this position until your back knee touches the floor.

Your back should remain straight while your abs should be contracted. Then slowly push back to get back to the starting position. 

You can repeat the movement on the same leg or alternate.

Building Strong Quads With Bad Knees

If you have suffered a knee injury or have weakness in one of your knees, some of the exercises mentioned above might not be recommended for you. However, you can also build strong quads by using different moves.

Banded Leg Extension

This is a good exercise that only requires a resistance band.

Wrap the resistance loop around both your ankles, while in a seated position. You need to keep your knees in line with each other and flex your feet.

Slowly extend one leg out with your knee as straight as possible, then lower it back down and repeat. Once you have done a set of reps for one leg, move to the other leg.

Wall Sits

This simple exercise will work out your quads without placing too much pressure on your knees.

Start by standing with your back against a wall, place your feet shoulder-width apart.

Slowly start sliding your back down the wall and bend at the hips and knees.

Your buttocks should get closer to the floor and your thighs should be parallel, pretty much like sitting with your back straight in a chair. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly come back up.

Don’t underestimate this exercise. Even for seasoned weightlifters, this movement is challenging. As you get stronger quads you can also add some weight in your lap during the hold.

How Often to Workout Quads

With all the listed exercises above, you can now build your own personal quad workout! Make sure to mix up the exercise, as each offer unique benefits to quads.

Most people choose to do a specific leg day once a week and this is usually enough. However, if you really want to focus on building stronger quads, consider adding a day with quad focus and another day with a hamstring focus. This way your quads are getting attention every week.

If some of these exercises are new to you or you don’t feel confident performing them in proper form, do not forget to ask a trainer or coach to help you out to make sure you do them right!

By using those, you should be on the way to building stronger quads! If you want to learn about other tools you can use to push your personal development then be sure to check out our other articles here!