Quadriceps Exercises

Quadriceps Exercises For Beginners. Quadriceps are muscles that run along the front of your thigh. Because the quadriceps is one of the largest muscles in the body, we must give it enough attention.

Training the legs is something you don’t want to miss. It provides a complete and aesthetic physique. On this page, we have collected many effective exercises for you when training the quadriceps.

  • squat
  • lunges
  • leg press
  • Leg extension

#Important to train hard

If your goal is to create serious muscle mass in the thigh muscles, then training with a relatively heavyweight is important. The quadriceps is a very large muscle group that requires a lot of work to grow the muscle.

With smaller muscle groups, it is often more effective to keep the weight relatively low, but this works the other way around with larger muscle groups. Therefore, it is not for nothing that heavy exercises such as the barbell squat and leg press are so effective when building muscle mass in the quadriceps.

#Which Quadriceps Exercises should I choose?

It is important to maintain proper distribution when it comes to quadriceps exercises. As just discussed, heavy training is important. Exercises such as the squat, front squat, leg press are therefore essential. With these exercises, you have the opportunity to load the muscles with a relatively large amount of weight, with the quadriceps having to do most of the work.

As is the case with all compound exercises, you use many more muscles than just the muscle group you are trying to load. For these reasons, isolation exercises are very effective. They can be used after your training to completely isolate the muscle. The leg extension is a very suitable exercise for this.

Barbell squat exercise

“The king of all exercises”, the barbell squat is nicknamed for a reason. Whether your goal is to build muscle mass or lose weight, the barbell squat always deserves a place in your training schedule.

The exercise can give you a lot of benefits, you will have to perform it properly. In this article, we discuss the execution of the squat and we discuss it in a number of clear steps. In addition, we give tips that help you perform the barbell squat safely and effectively.

The king of all exercises – this is why

The barbell squat lays the foundation for training schedules for professional bodybuilders, strength trainers, Olympic weightlifters, but also for football or rugby players. Actually, there is no reason not to implement the barbell squat in your program, because the benefits are endless.

1. Compound Exercise

The barbell squat is one of the basic compound exercises, meaning you use more than one joint to perform the movement. The exercise primarily loads the quadriceps (thighs) , glutes (glutes), and hamstrings.

So the exercise gives you a lot of “value for money” when it comes to the amount of muscle activation you get in return.

2. Health

Besides the fact that the exercise is effective at stimulating muscles, there are also many health benefits associated with the exercise. It strengthens the joints, ligaments, and tendons that are around the knee and hips.

3. Stability

The barbell squat also offers benefits in areas you wouldn’t expect it to. In addition to strengthening the targeted muscle groups, it also improves ankle and core stability and improves shoulder mobility by keeping the barbell in the same position all the time.

4. Testosterone & Fat Burning

The last big advantage of the barbell squat is the effect on your fat burning and testosterone. Because a large part of your body is put to work, you burn a lot of calories. It also has a proven effect on the natural production of testosterone and growth hormones.

Working towards a barbell squat

If you are completely new to the exercise, we do not recommend starting straight away with the barbell squat. In this case, it is wiser to start with easier variations of the exercise, so that you become familiar with the exercise and movements.

Start with bodyweight squats. Pay particular attention to keeping the core tight and straight. Your feet are shoulder-width apart and your toes point slightly out. Lower yourself in a controlled manner until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

When you can easily perform more than 20 repetitions of bodyweight squats, you can switch to the goblet squat. Here you perform the same movement while holding a weight in your hands, this makes the exercise more challenging.

Performing the barbell squat

To do the barbell squat you need a squat rack, barbell, and weight plates. The barbell squat can therefore be performed in most gyms and fitness facilities. Below we take you through the execution of the exercise on the basis of a number of clear steps.

  1. Start by setting the squat rack to the correct height. Position the barbell slightly lower than your shoulders. Next, add the weight to the barbell you plan to use.
  2. Place your hands in the correct width on the bar. The width with which you can grip the bar is different for everyone and mainly depends on your shoulder mobility.
  3. Position yourself under the barbell. Make sure the barbell makes contact with the top of your back muscles, not your neck! Extending your legs will lift the weight up and out of the squat rack.
  4. Step back with both feet, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor and point your toes out. At this point, you are in the starting position of the exercise.
  5. Take a deep breath and, keeping your head straight, slowly lower the weight down. Do not lean forward as you lower the weight but keep your back in a straight position.
  6. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Blow out as you push the weight up in a controlled manner by generating power from your heels.
  7. Don’t straighten your knees all the way, but keep a slight bend.
  8. Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is achieved.
  9. Carefully take two steps forward to return the barbell to the squat rack. Only move away from under the barbell when it is completely still in the squat rack.

Helpful Tips

Now the barbell squat is a complex and difficult exercise that will require a lot of practice if you want to master the barbell squat completely. To help you with this, we have listed a number of handy tips and reminders that are useful when performing the exercise correctly!

1. Keep your head straight

It can be tempting to look down to see if everything is going well, but this will only make you unbalanced faster. Constantly keep your focus on one point directly in front of you, teach yourself this from the start.

2. Push your chest up

By consciously keeping your chest up, you can more easily maintain a straight position in your back. This keeps you upright and prevents you from leaning forward too much.

3. Press from your heels

Many people tend to keep pressure on the front of the foot. Sometimes we even see the heels lift off the ground while pushing the weight upwards. This puts unnecessary stress on your joints and tendons, especially around the knee. Curling your toes can help you learn this technique faster.

4. Knees in line with your toes

Keep your knees at least in line with your feet. It doesn’t matter if your knees go over your toes, but you definitely want to prevent your knees from coming in. By letting your toes point outwards enough, you can prevent your knees from falling inward.

Common mistakes

By now you are familiar with the basic performance of the barbell squat and you know what to look out for. Finally, we want to give you some common mistakes, so you don’t have to make them yourself.

1. Round the lower back

Rounding the lower back is a mistake made in many exercises, including the barbell squat. It is crucial to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. This also applies to other compound exercises such as the deadlift.

Some mnemonics that help keep the back straight:

  • Keep looking straight ahead
  • Squeezing shoulder blades together
  • Push chest up
  • Keep core tight

2. Insufficient heating

This sounds logical, but especially with the barbell squat, warming up muscles is crucial. Especially doing dynamic stretching exercises is very important.

This ensures that you can get into a better squat position by improving mobility in your hips and ankles for a short period of time. Dynamic stretches are therefore definitely recommended if you have trouble getting enough depth in your squat.

3. Not sinking deep enough

This brings us right to the third point, not sinking deep enough. As we just discussed, dynamic stretches can help create more depth. Film yourself or have someone film you if you are not sure how deep you are going.

Limited hip and ankle mobility is the most common cause of not being able to lower deep enough during the barbell squat. A squat shoe with a raised heel is often a good tool to help with this. Alternatively, you can also place two thin-weight plates under your heels.

Safety and Precautions

The barbell squat is the exercise that can give you the most benefits, but unfortunately, it also comes with the most risks.

A compound exercise such as the barbell squat in which the whole body is put under heavy pressure is not without risks. It is therefore of extra importance that you take the right precautions and prevent annoying injuries.

  • Start the exercise with only the barbell and slowly build up in weight so that you are sufficiently warmed up. When you find that you can no longer maintain your form with a certain amount of weight, take a step back.
  • Do not round the lower back during the barbell squat. Keep your back in a straight position at all times so that you can perform the exercise safely.
  • If you feel a lot of pressure or even pain in your lower back, experiment with wearing a powerlifting belt. Make sure you don’t become dependent on a powerlifting belt, but only use it when it’s really necessary.

Lunges exercise

The lunge is a very effective lower body exercise. There are many different variations of the lunge, the exercise is very diverse. This way the lunge can be done almost anywhere, in the gym but also at home.

We extensively discuss the perfect execution and technique and also give a number of useful tips that ensure that you can get the most out of this effective fitness exercise.

The benefits of lunges

There are a number of fitness exercises that should not be missing from your training schedule and lunges are definitely one of them.

Exercises like the lunge are very effective because they train multiple muscle groups at once. This ensures that you achieve more in less time and this is a plus for everyone.

The exercise is not very difficult, but it is very heavy. The lunge is therefore also suitable for beginners who want to train their legs effectively.

#Multiple muscle groups

The lunge primarily focuses on the quadriceps (thighs), but the hamstrings and glutes (glutes) are also directly loaded when doing the exercise. This way you can effectively train three muscle groups at the same time with one exercise.

In addition, other muscle groups such as the calves and core will play a secondary role when doing the lunge. With a compound exercise such as the lunge, you get a lot for your money.

#Good for fat burning

Anyone who has done lunges before knows that they can be very heavy. Not only for the muscles in your legs but also for endurance. Besides that the exercise is effective for training different muscle groups, it also ensures a higher fat burning.

Execution and technique

As we mentioned earlier, the lunge is a relatively simple fitness exercise. In addition to maintaining your balance, there are a number of other points that you should definitely take into account.

Below we briefly go through the exercise in a number of clear steps.

  1. Inhale deeply and take a step forward with one leg. Make sure the stride is neither too big nor too small, about 1 to 1.5 times your normal stride length.
  2. Slowly bend your knee and hip while maintaining balance. Your knee should be roughly in line with your toe.
  3. As you exhale, push your body weight up from your heel and place your foot back in the same position it was in before.
  4. Make the same movements on your other leg and do this until the desired number of repetitions of your set is achieved.

Different variations

There are quite a few variations of the exercise, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Below we briefly discuss some popular variations of the lunge.

#walking lunges

After the traditional lunge, the most popular variant, walking lunges. With this variant, you constantly take steps forward and you do not stay in one place. This is often a more natural movement for many, making it easier to maintain balance.

So for this variant, you need a large piece of free ground that you can walk on freely. If you don’t have enough space to continue walking in one piece, you can turn around halfway through the set.

#dumbbell lunges

Dumbbell lunges are the most popular variant where you can add extra resistance to make the exercise harder. Do you notice that you can still continue with the normal lunge after 15 reps per leg?

This means that just using your body weight is not challenging enough to put maximum strain on your muscles. By adding extra weight in the form of dumbbells, you can make the exercise more challenging over a longer period of time by increasing the weight over a period of time.

#barbell lunges

As the name probably suggests, in this variant you use a barbell to create extra resistance. You place the barbell on the top of your back muscles as you would with a barbell squat.

You can also perform this variant on foot or in the same place. Using a barbell is often more challenging than dumbbells because it requires more of your core and abs.

#Reverse lunges

With the reverse lunges, you actually do the same as with the traditional lunge, only you step back here instead of forward. This variant puts a lot less strain on the knees and is therefore suitable for people who quickly suffer from the knees.

Lunges vs. squats exercise

Both lunges and squats can be done with bodyweight, but also with added resistance. Both exercises target the same muscle group, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. The big difference is that with the lunge the legs are trained individually.

As a result, more stabilizing muscles are used during the exercise. It can also help with inequalities in muscles between your left and right leg.

Because lunges require more balance, you can add less weight than you can with a squat. For example, the barbell squat is a very suitable exercise for using a relatively heavyweight, which results in an increase in strength.

The lunges, on the other hand, are better suited for a relatively low weight where the focus is on taxing different muscle groups, which will ultimately result in muscle growth.

Leg press exercise

The leg press is a very popular fitness device with which you can add a lot of muscle mass to your legs. At first glance, it seems like a simple exercise, but it is important that you perform the exercise correctly.

By performing the leg press with good form you increase the benefits in strength and muscle gain. Correct form is also very important in preventing nasty injuries.

The benefits of the leg press

The benefits of doing the leg press are largely similar to the benefits of the barbell squat. The primary focus is on the quadriceps, but secondary muscle groups such as the hamstrings, glutes, and calves are trained.

By adjusting your foot position, you can shift focus to and from different muscle groups. This makes the leg press very suitable for reducing inequalities in muscle groups.

Execution and technique

It is important that your body is in the correct position while performing the leg press. We will go through the correct implementation with you in a number of clear steps.

  1. Sit in the device and rest your head and back against the supports. Place your feet the same width as your hips on the footplate. Your knees are in line with your feet, so don’t let them bend in or out.
  2. Place your feet in a comfortable place on the footplate. If you place them too low, there will be unnecessary tension on the knees. If you place the feet too high on the plate, the tension will shift to the hamstring and glutes.
  3. Don’t be explosive, but stretch your legs in a controlled way. Just before your legs are fully stretched you stop, always keep a slight bend in your knees when doing leg press!
  4. Then lower the weight in a controlled manner, keeping your head, back, and buttocks in position. So you keep constant contact with the seat and the back support of the leg press on all these points.
  5. Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is reached.

Common mistakes

When doing the leg press there are a number of mistakes that you absolutely want to avoid. Not just because they are potentially dangerous. The following mistakes also ensure that you do not get the maximum benefits from the exercise.

Too much weight

This is actually a mistake that is made with every fitness exercise, but we see this most often with the leg press. Especially with the ‘free weight’ leg press machine, it can be tempting to hang a lot of weight on the device.

It is important that your form remains a constant factor. For example, a set on the leg press without weight and a set with your maximum weight should be identical. If you sacrifice the correct form for more weight, you will get fewer results from the exercise.

Make the buttocks come up

This error is often a result of the error we just discussed. When you lower the weight, there is a danger that your buttocks will be pulled off the chair.

So be aware of this and make sure you keep in constant contact with the seating area of ​​the leg press. Does this not work? Then see if the angle of the leg press can adjust or reduce the weight.

Limited range of motion

Range of motion is one of the most important factors in stimulating and growing muscles. So lower the weight completely down and push it all the way back again.

Leg extension exercise

The leg extension exercise is usually done with a machine of the same name. The exercise mainly focuses on stimulating the quadriceps. The leg extension is one of the few fitness exercises with which you can completely isolate the quadriceps.

Advantages

The leg extension focuses on the quadriceps, which are the muscles at the front of your thighs. The leg extension differs from the more infamous exercises we know for training the quadriceps, such as squat variations and lunges.

In exercises such as squats and lunges, you train the hamstrings and glutes in addition to your quadriceps. This is generally positive, but you may want to isolate purely and solely the quadriceps.

This can be interesting, for example, for avid runners who, because of running, have a higher degree of muscle development in the hamstrings and glutes.

Execution and technique

Good execution and correct technique are always the number one focus. Make sure you have complete mastery of the exercise and movements before increasing the weight. Below we go through the leg extension in five simple steps.

In the video, you will find a detailed explanation about how to perform the leg extension in the most effective way.

  1. Set the leg extension to a weight that allows you to challenge yourself between 10 to 15 reps.
  2. Adjust the device to your body so that you can sit comfortably. Grab both handles and constantly pull yourself into the seat.
  3. Push the weight up in a controlled manner and consciously contract the quadriceps in the top position.
  4. Then lower the weight again in a controlled manner until you feel the quadriceps stretch.
  5. Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is reached.

Common mistakes

The leg extension is an exercise that is generally beginner-friendly. However, there are a number of mistakes that you want to avoid so that you can get all the benefits from this effective isolation exercise.

Too much weight

Correct form is more important than the amount of weight. This is the case with any fitness exercise, but especially with an isolation exercise such as the leg extension.

This is not meant to test your one-rep max (1 RM), but to stimulate your quadriceps in a higher repetition range.

No control

All too often we see the leg extension performed in an explosive way. The feeling in the quadriceps (thighs) is not always pleasant while doing the leg extension and we understand that you want to get rid of it quickly.

However, try to perform the movement slowly and in a controlled manner. This increases the TOT (time under tension) and excludes any form of momentum.

Full stretch

Full range of motion is important, also with the leg extension. It is important that you maintain a very slight bend in your knees and not fully extend your legs. This can lead to injuries in the knee joints.

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