Posted on April 15 2019
Think about everything you use your leg muscles for: walking, sitting, lifting weights, and running are just a few examples. To ensure that you can do these everyday movements without pain, you've got to strengthen your legs along with other muscles like your core for support, stability, speed, and power. One of the main muscle groups in your legs that you'll want to be strong is your quadriceps, which is the group of muscles at the front of your thighs.
Get ready to sculpt and strengthen your thighs with the 7 moves ahead.
- Start with a loaded barbell; 75 pounds is a great starting point. Beginners should start with just the barbell and gradually add weight as they become familiar with the movement.
- Position your hands about shoulder-width apart on the barbell, and lightly grip the bar with an overhand grip.
- Step in front of the rack, and rest the bar on your trapezius muscles (the muscle closest to your neck/upper back).
- With your feet about hip-distance apart, lift the barbell off the rack. Take one to two steps backwards.
- Shift your weight back into your heels. Brace your abs as you begin to lower into a squat, keeping your head and spine in a neutral position. Your knees should be as close to 90 degrees as possible. Hold for one second.
- With your core still braced, drive through your heels to stand back up. Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of your squat. That's one rep.
- Before getting started, add weight to the machine. 25-35 pound plates on each side is a good starting point. If this is too heavy or too light feel free to adjust the weight.
- Sit on the seat and place your feet hips-width apart on the footplate.
- Once your feet are in place, press the footplate with both feet as you simultaneously disengage the safety latches on the side of the seat with your hands.
- With your feet still on the footplate, bend your knees letting the footplate come toward your body. Once your knees are at a 90-degree angle, press the footplate up and straighten your legs. Be sure not to lock your knees.
- This counts as one rep.
- Once you've completed a set, press the footplate and engage the safety latches.
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
- Stand upright, feet together, with 10-pound dumbbells at your side. Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. Your back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over your ankle.
- Press your left heel into the ground, and push off with your right foot to bring your right leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes one repetition.
Bulgarian Split Squat
- Grab a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Begin by placing the toes of your left foot on a bench, box, stair, or chair, with your right leg straight.
- Make sure your right foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
- Bend your right knee, squeeze your left glute, and lower your pelvis toward the ground.
- Press your right heel into the ground to straighten your right knee. This completes one repetition.
Reverse Lunge With a Knee Drive
- Stand with feet together. Take a controlled lunge (or large step) backward with your left foot.
- As you lunge back with your left foot, drive your left arm forward to maintain your balance.
- Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor and your right knee is positioned directly over your ankle. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
- From the ground, drive your left knee up coming into a standing position with your left leg lifted at a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously drive your right arm up to maintain your balance.
- If it's too hard to come into to perform the knee drive from the lunge, step your left foot in to meet your right, then raise your left knee up.
- This completes one rep.
- Start with a loaded barbell; 65 to 75 pounds is a great starting point. Beginners should start with just the barbell, gradually adding weight as they become familiar with the movement.
- Position your hands about shoulder-width apart on the barbell and lightly grip the bar.
- Rest the bar on your clavicle and shoulders as you lift your elbows up. Your elbows should go as high as your mobility allows.
- With your feet about hip-distance apart, lift the barbell off the rack. Take 1 to 2 steps backwards.
- Shift your weight back into your heels. Brace your abs as you begin to lower into a squat, keeping your head and back straight. Your knees should be as close to 90 degrees as possible.
- With your core still braced, drive through your heels to stand back up. Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of your squat.
- That's one rep.
- Find a sturdy bench, coffee table, wooden box, or kid's chair that, when you place your foot squarely on it, your knee is at about a 90-degree angle or larger.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side.
- Step up onto the chair and lift your right knee forward and up.
- Lower the right foot back to the ground, landing softly.
- This counts as one rep.