6 Quad-Strengthening Exercises You Can Do at Home
Want healthy knees? Then you need to give your quads some love. Your “quad muscles help support your knees,” says Openfit Live Trainer Mary Beth Rockwell. “So keeping them strong will not only help you perform daily activities more effectively but can also stabilize your knees to reinforce proper joint mechanics and, thus, prevent them from hurting.”
Luckily, there are a number of easy quad-strengthening exercises you can do right at home. Rockwell share six of her favorites with us, then ranked them from easiest to most difficult. Take your time working up to the more difficult exercises, and feel free to skip the weights at first.
Step-ups are a great low-impact exercise for beginners, as they strengthen the quads and challenge your balance. Make these easier with a lower step or make them harder by holding dumbbells.
- Stand tall holding an optional pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides, and place your left foot on a bench so that your hip, knee, and ankle are all bent 90 degrees.
- Keeping your chest up and shoulders back, push your body up with your left leg until it’s straight (keep your right foot elevated).
- Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position under control. Perform equal reps on both legs.
The lateral lunge not only targets your quads, but it also works your other muscles, such as the inner and outer thighs, to help stabilize your knees.
- Holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Keeping your feet parallel and your core engaged, step your right foot wide to the right without bending your left knee.
- Keeping your left leg straight, your chest up, and your back flat, bend your right knee, sit your hips back, and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. The dumbbells should frame your right leg at the bottom of the move.
- Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the left side, and continue alternating sides, performing equal reps on each.
This move challenges your balance and your strength, really targeting your quads and glutes. With the non-working leg lifted, “each side gets its own individual workload, so it can help uncover strength differences on either side of the lower body,” says Rockwell.
- Stand tall with your arms extended straight in front of your chest and your right heel raised a few inches off the floor in front of you. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your back flat, core engaged, and left foot elevated, push your hips back, bend your right knee, and slowly lower your body as far as possible.
- Reverse the move to push yourself back up to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.
4. Holmsen Screamer Lunge or Lunge Hops
This is a lower-body movement that helps to build strength, balance, and explosive power. Tip: “The key to a safe landing is to gently absorb the impact by keeping your knees and feet soft as you decelerate into the rear lunge,” says Rockwell.
- Step your left leg back and lower your body until both knees are bent about 90 degrees. Keep your right knee off the ground.
- This reverse lunge is your starting position.
- With explosive movement, jump and drive your left knee up as high as you can. Keep your right leg straight. Your left toes will leave the ground at the apex of your jump.
- Land softly, with the toe, ball, then heel of your left foot.
- Step your left leg back and return to the starting position.
- Complete your desired number of reps, then switch sides. Do equal reps on both legs.
Rockwell says “the split squat can help uncover any muscular imbalances from one side of the body to the other, which can then be addressed by doing some extra strengthening and/or stretching on the more challenged side.”
- Stand in front of your couch or sturdy chair, facing away as if you were going to sit down. Leave approximately 8 to 12 inches of space between the chair and your feet.
- Place the top of your right foot on the object behind you.
- Bend your knee, lowering your body toward the floor. Try to get your left thigh parallel with the floor. Don’t let your right knee touch the ground.
- Pause at the bottom, then rise up, straightening your leg.
- Complete your set, then switch legs, performing equal numbers on both legs.
6. Jumping Lunges
Jumping lunges are a great way to build explosive power. Be sure to build up to this exercise as you must have proper lunge form and joint alignment to do this safely without causing injury.
- A jumping lunge encompasses the movement of a split squat with the added bonus of an explosive jump in between sides.
- Start by stepping your right foot back into a split squat or stationary lunge. Both knees are bent at 90 degree angles.
- Jump explosively up switching your legs in the air. Land with the left leg back and both knees at a 90 degree angle bend.
- This is one rep. Continue alternating sides and repeat for equal reps.